Tommy Zurhellen Wins Gold Medal at

Independent Publisher Awards

Associate Professor of English Tommy Zurhellen receives gold medal at Independent Publisher Awards

Associate Professor of English Tommy Zurhellen was awarded a gold medal for his debut novel, Nazareth, North Dakota, at the 2012 Independent Publisher Awards in New York City.

Associate Professor of English Tommy Zurhellen was awarded a gold medal for his debut novel, Nazareth, North Dakota, at the 2012 Independent Publisher Awards (IPPYs) in New York City.

“I'm thrilled to have my novel recognized at the IPPY awards this year,” Zurhellen says. “To me, these awards are so important because they honor many writers and editors whose work might fall outside the mainstream. I'm also happy literary fiction like Nazareth, North Dakota still has a sizable audience who enjoy literature that challenges them a bit.”

Nazareth, North Dakota, published by Atticus Books, won the “Best Fiction: Midwest” category for its irreverent retelling of the story of the young Messiah, set in the lonely prairie and Badlands of North Dakota starting in the 1980s. Publishers Weekly said of the book, “[T]his debut novel reveals the hardscrabble life of normal, unguided people who put their last dollars in the jukebox and don’t worry about what will happen when the song ends … Zurhellen’s masterful dialogue often makes for gripping scenes that sustain these characters for decades.”

Zurhellen has taught creative writing at Marist since 2004, and his short fiction and essays have appeared widely in literary journals including Quarterly WestCarolina Quarterly, and Appalachee Review. His second novel, Apostle Islands, was released in September 2012 from Atticus Books (www.atticusbooksonline.com) and has already received critical acclaim, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Zurhellen received his MFA in fiction from the University of Alabama.

The IPPYs have been held annually since 1996 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction titles from academic and small presses around the world. 

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