A! Magazine for the Arts

Carter Sickles

Carter Sickles

Acclaimed writer speaks at Abingdon library

February 26, 2023

Carter Sickels, one of the most acclaimed of young Appalachian writers, is the featured speaker for the “Sunday with Friends” presentation Sunday, March 26 at 3 p.m. at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon, Virginia.

Sickels is the author of two novels. “An Evening Hour,” recently made into a feature film, is set in West Virginia coal-mining country and deals with a young man trying to find his place in the changing social and economic landscape of the Appalachian region.

His newest book “The Prettiest Star,” is about a young gay man returning to his Ohio hometown that had rejected him. In 2021 it won both the Southern Book Award and the 2021 Weatherford Prize for the Best Appalachian Book.

“The Prettiest Star” imagines a difficult prodigal son homecoming. It’s 1986, and Brian Jackson has returned to his small southern Ohio hometown. Six years before, Brian left home for New York City, where he found friends, a measure of acceptance and love with his partner, Shawn. Now Brian is 24 and ill with late-stage AIDS. He’s also alone; Shawn has already died.

The novel is about the panic, homophobia and bullying that the AIDS epidemic caused in America in the 1980s. Brian’s family and the townspeople in the small Ohio town struggle to deal with Brian’s homosexuality and his AIDS diagnosis.

Sickels is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award and has been awarded scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, VCCA and the MacDowell Colony.

Sickels is an associate professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers Studio Low-Residency MFA program.

There will be books for sale, book signings and a reception following Sickels’ presentation.

The Friends of the Washington County Public Library is a voluntary, non-profit organization whose activities have included raising funds to improve library facilities, taking a firm stand in support of intellectual freedom, sponsoring literary and cultural events, and providing financial support for special projects.

For more information on the event, call 276-492-2013.