A “Hall of Fame” dedicated to a region’s writers is rare in the United States, but one launched this week in Lexington. The inaugural class of authors will be named this week to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, which is based at the Carnegie Center in Lexington, will honor native-born Kentuckians who have penned either fiction or non-fiction.
This year, executive director Neil Chethik says they’ll honor only deceased writers.
“This year was just dedicated to the foundational writers. So each year in the future, we intend to induct a couple of new writers from the past and then also some writers who are currently writing. So, I can see living writers as soon as next year,” he says.
Chethik says judges picked six Kentucky-born writers from a pool of two-hundred. But eventually, Chethik predicts all of this year’s finalists will be honored.
“The 13 finalists that we selected out of those 200 nominees, I can’t imagine that over the next four or five years, as we gradually build the Hall of Fame, that all of their names won’t be in there,” he says.
The finalists include the nation’s first African-American novelist, as well as the authors of “All the King’s Men,” “The Dollmaker,” and “Night Comes to the Cumberlands.” Also among them are historian Thomas Clark, theologian Thomas Merton and poet Jesse Stuart. The induction ceremony takes place Thursday evening at the Carnegie Center and is open to the public.