The Crook’s Corner Book Prize is awarded for the best debut novel set in the American South. The Prize is intended to encourage emerging writers, whether published by established publishing houses, small independent publishers, or self-published by the author.
An iconic restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for 40 years, Crook’s Corner was a keystone in the pantheon of contemporary Southern cuisine. The Book Prize was inspired not only by the literary tradition of the American South but also by the famous literary cafés of Paris. The Deux Magots, the Flore, and Brasserie Lipp, for example, have for many years awarded prestigious writers’ prizes.
The connection between the literary life and café culture is a close one, as the French know well. “It seemed a natural evolution for Crook’s, which is so interwoven with the arts and the literary community, to honor emerging writers,” says Crook’s chef Bill Smith emeritus, himself an author. The restaurant, whose walls were lined with the work of local artists, had a long history as a favorite dining spot for local and visiting writers, artists, and musicians.
Sadly, Crook’s Corner closed in 2021. However, the Crook’s Corner Book Prize will continue its annual award of $5,000 for the best debut novel set in the American South, a fitting homage to the unforgettable restaurant.