SPD is thrilled to announce that Paul Kerschen is the winner of the 2020 Northen California Book Award in Fiction for his novel The Warm South: A Novel. 

The Northern California Book Reviewers are northern California reviewers, editors, librarians, and members of the book media, who select the awards by reading the books and discussing their merits.

The Northern California Book Awards are co-sponsored by the Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, San Francisco Public Library, and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, with Mechanics' Institute Library, Women's National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter, and Pen West.

The Warm South: A Novel
(Roundabout Press, 2019)
By Paul Kerschen

"The daringly imagined, masterfully realized story of poet John Keats's second life abroad. What if Keats had not died in Rome at only twenty-five, just as he was coming to realize his poetic gifts? In this audacious alternate telling, the young poet is pulled back from the brink of death only to find his troubles far from over. He is short on money, far from home, his literary reputation anything but assured—but his life and imagination have been spared, and a new country awaits. In an Italy at uneasy peace, full of foreign armies and spies, Keats is drawn into Percy and Mary Shelley's expatriate circle, resumes his old profession of surgery and falls in with student revolutionaries who are plotting a more radical cure for their nation. His fiancée in London expects his return, and everyone is expecting his next poem, but he has not returned from his deathbed quite the same person—or poet—that he was. Written with deep knowledge, compassion and brio, Paul Kerschen's debut novel is a spellbinding historical yarn and a heady engagement with the literature of the past, a thing of beauty in itself and a meditation on the writer's duty in troubled times.

"Kerschen's gem-like, crystalline prose is the book's best feature...The plot that gets underway in THE WARM SOUTH is full of both stuff and matter. It's reminiscent of Shakespeare, replete with political intrigue, missed connections, gender-swapping disguises and a nested play, as well as deep themes and foundational questions about the imperfect, porous skins that are never quite able to encase and separate art from politics, life, love and duty."—Tyler Malone, LA Times

You can read more about Poetry Flash and the Northern California Book Award here

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