Monday, February 9, 2014

University of New Orleans Celebrates Launch of My Sunshine Away

University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop Director M. O. Walsh, an assistant professor of English and author of My Sunshine Away, slated as one of the best books of 2015University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop Director M. O. Walsh, an assistant professor of English and author of "My Sunshine Away," slated as one of the best books of 2015.

The University of New Orleans is celebrating this week over the highly anticipated launch of My Sunshine Away, a debut novel by the director of the University’s Creative Writing Workshop that is expected to be one of the best books of 2015.

"The entire Department of English is extremely proud of Neal’s achievement, the publication of a breakthrough novel," said Peter Schock, English department chair.  

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh is a literary novel set in Baton Rouge and told from the point of view of a 30-something man looking back at his youth. Amid detailed descriptions of suburban childhood and lush Louisiana landscape, the narrator recalls the summer of 1989, when a 15-year-old girl who lived across the street from him was raped. He was 14 years old and madly in love with her. No one was ever arrested and the narrator, he confesses, was one of the suspects.

This week, My Sunshine Away appears as a featured debut on Amazon.com and among “favorite fiction” in US Weekly magazine, while making news around the U.S. My Sunshine Away is a February 2015 Indie Next Pick and an Ingram Premier Pick. The debut novel has also received starred reviews in publishers’ reviews in Kirkus Reviews, Booklist and Publishers Weekly. In December, Entertainment Weekly named My Sunshine Away one of 20 books to read in 2015, alongside books by headlines names ranging from Willie Nelson to Toni Morrison.

My Sunshine Away was snapped up for publication in July 2013 by renowned publisher Amy Einhorn, who is the editor of bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks. Einhorn, who oversees her own imprint at Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, bought world rights as soon as she read the book, ensuring that the book never went to auction. The book, which hits local bookshelves on Feb. 10, will soon appear in Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese and French translations.

Walsh, who goes by Neal on campus, is on tour the next 10 days, with stops in Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, Pasadena, Memphis and Jackson. He will hold publication events in New Orleans on Feb. 26 and March 27. His book is expected to be a bestseller. In January, The Times-Picayune named him one of "15 New Orleans Entertainers to Watch."

The book, which straddles commercial and literary fiction, has made headlines in The Times-Picayune, The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Vanity Fair, Writer’s Digest, Garden & Gun, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, More, Library Journal, The Southern Review, and Kirkus.

Publishers from around the country selected My Sunshine Away this spring as one of only seven titles in the adult literature category presented as a “Buzz Book” for 2015 Book Expo America, the largest and most prestigious booksellers event in North America.

Since then, the book has garnered terrific early excitement:

  • "Recalls the best of Pat Conroy... Celebrate, fiction lovers: The gods of Southern Gothic storytelling have inducted a junior member." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Suspenseful, compassionate, and absorbing, Walsh’s word-perfect rendering of the doubts, insecurities, bravado, and idealism of teens deserves to be placed in the hands of readers of Tom Franklin, Hannah Pittard, and Jeffrey Eugenides.” — Booklist (starred review)

  • "This is literature of the highest order . . . an important work of fiction. We need more novelists with the guts and clarity of M.O. Walsh." — Matthew Thomas, New York Times–bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves. 

  • “I really loved this book. . . . I can’t praise it enough. My Sunshine Away is not a thriller; it is not genre fiction; but it’s realism at its nest, and it is a page- turner—a story made memorable in paragraph after paragraph. . . . Such a beautiful book. Such a remarkable book.” — Anne Rice, #1 nationally bestselling author of Prince Lestat

  • “My Sunshine Away is that rarest find, a page-turner you want to read slowly and a literary novel you can’t look away from. It’s a book to read and reread, one that will only get better with time, like its writer.” — Tom Franklin, bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

  • “Try and restrain yourself from flying through the pages of this wonderful novel. . . . The last page is as satisfying as the first. A mystery you cannot wait to solve.” — Kathryn Stockett, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Help.

  • “The magic of My Sunshine Away is in M. O. Walsh’s extraordinary ability to make us long for the heartache of youth and its inevitable sins. This is an awe-inspiring debut.”

— Hannah Pittard, author of Reunion andThe Fates Will Find Their Way

  • “M.O. Walsh has written one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. An outstanding examination of the way that the past and the weight of our memories shape us, My Sunshine Away, thanks to Walsh’s verve and total control over the narrative, feels utterly original.”

— Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

  • "This is one of the best novels I’ve read in ages."

— Steve Yarbrough, author ofThe Realm of Last Chances

  • “Q: When is it a thrill to feel gutted? A: When you start reading the book you hold in your hands. M. O. Walsh’s My Sunshine Away reminds us that art can be wrenching and a delight, that pain—if examined through wit, intimacy,

and wisdom—can be a salve. This novel is great.” — Darin Strauss, internationally bestselling author of Half a Life

Read More

M.O. Walsh
Creative Writing Workshop at UNO
Study Abroad Scholarship! University of New Orleans Hosts Writing Contest
UNO Creative Writing Workshop Director Creates National Buzz with New Book Due Out in January
BEA 2014: Big Debuts and Breakouts Dominate Adult Buzz Panel, Publishers Weekly
Book Buzz: Editors' picks at BookExpo, USA Today
 #BEA14: Editor's Buzz Panel, Shelf Awareness
BookExpo America: What's Officially Exciting, Dallas Morning News
New Orleans Author M.O. Walsh Celebrated for 'Buzz Book' at New York Publishing Expo, The Times-Picayune
Award-winning Authors Aim to Please at MegaRead Planned by the UNO Creative Writing Workshop
Publishers Weekly Touts UNO Creative Writing Workshop in Inaugural Survey of Creating Writing Programs in the U.S.
New Experiences in an Old Country: UNO Creative Writing Workshops Move to Ireland
UNO's Creating Writing Workshop and WWNO Launch "Storyville"
UNO Alumnus Tops the Charts
"15 New Orleans Entertainers To Watch,"The Times-Picayune
20 Books to Read in 2015, Entertainment Weekly