Into the Wilderness Wins IPPY Gold Medal for Regional Fiction

Deborah Lee Luskin’s debut novel, Into the Wilderness, has been awarded the Independent Publishers’ Gold Medal for Regional Fiction.

Into the Wilderness Wins IPPY Gold Medal for Regional Fiction
Williamsville, VT, May 24, 2011 --( Set in Vermont, in 1964, Into the Wilderness has again been recognized for its Sense of Place, winning the IPPY Gold Medal for the North East Region. The novel was published by White River Press in February, 2010; an electronic edition was released in April, 2011.

Into the Wilderness tells the story of Rose Mayer, a sixty-four year old Jewish widow from New York, who buries her second husband and wonders what she's going to do with the rest of her life. Reluctantly, she visits her son’s summer place in Vermont, where there are neither sidewalks, Democrats nor other Jews. There, she meets Percy Mendell, a born and bred Vermonter who has never married, never voted for a Democrat, and never left the state. He’s facing retirement after a long and satisfying career as the local extension agent, and he’s facing a crisis of faith with the GOP nomination of Barry Goldwater for President. Rose and Percy can’t help bumping into each other in Orton (pop. 290); when the do, sparks fly – until they attend the Marlboro Music Festival, where music forms their common language.

Frank Bryan, UVM Professor and Vermont’s preeminent scholar of Vermont politics describes Into the Wilderness as “a poignant description of a specific place—the real Vermont—at a specific moment in its fabled history. But it is also a timeless story of human fulfillment, a gift that can only come (if it comes at all) with growing old. Thus it must be and thankfully is a love story. Luskin knows Vermont. But more importantly she knows love. And she puts them together with honesty, fairness and courage.”

The Jewish Independent (British Columbia), says, "Luskin creates characters about whom readers care, masterfully discusses music and brings to life a vivid small Vermont town." Boston’s Jewish Advocate called the book, “An enchanting tale of solitude, friendship and romance.” The novel was recognized at the Vermont Library Association’s 116th Conference for its “Sense of Place.”

The Rutland Herald hailed Into the Wilderness as “a fiercely intelligent love story,” and Seven Days called the book, “a perfectly gratifying read.” Readers regularly say they don’t want the book to end – but can’t put it down.

The Independent Publisher Book Awards, begun in 1996, is the largest independent book contest in the world, intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles produced each year. This year, there were nearly four thousand submissions from 46 states and 8 countries; 346 prizes were awarded. Luskin’s Into the Wilderness won the Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the North East, which includes New York and New England.

Luskin has been writing about Vermont since relocating there from New York City in 1984. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Columbia University and has taught literature and writing to diverse learners, from Ivy League undergraduates to prison inmates. She is a Visiting Scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council, an essayist, a skilled technical writer, and a regular commentator for Vermont Public Radio. Into the Wilderness is her first published novel.

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Deborah Lee Luskin