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National Book Award finalists to be announced at Flannery O'Connor's home

June 16, 2010 |  3:27 pm

Flanneryoconnor1962When the National Book Awards finalists are announced this fall, the news will come from the row house in Savannah, Ga., that was the childhood home of Flannery O'Connor.

Savannah, and O'Connor's former neighborhood, is a lovely place -- I was there a few years ago -- I walked past her home, but didn't get to go inside. Loveliness, however, was not the primary consideration, popularity was. O'Connor's home was chosen after awards organizers asked the public where the announcements should be held. More than 75 locations were submitted -- I suggested Mark Twain's house in Connecticut, but O'Connor's house seems like an excellent choice.

O'Connor's "The Complete Stories" won the National Book Award in 1972, and last year, in a competition between all 60 years of National Book Award winners, it was voted the best of the National Book Awards for Fiction.

O'Connor's family lived at the home in Savannah from 1925, the year she was born, until 1938. Later, Flannery went away to college -- including studying at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop, shortly after its inception -- and moved to the northeast. Diagnosed with a disabling form of lupus, O'Connor returned to Georgia. She lived with her mother at her family's farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville, Ga., from 1951 until her death in 1964.

Both Andalusia and O'Connor's childhood home have been preserved. Self-guided tours are available weekly (excluding Wednesday and Sunday) at Andalusia from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; visiting hours at the Savannah home are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Thursday.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Flannery O'Connor in 1962. Credit: Associated Press

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