Jory T. Sherman is the 2013 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature. The award is given by Western Writers of America (WWA) as its highest honor and will be presented during the organization’s annual convention in June in Las Vegas, NV.
From his early years as a Beatnik era poet in San Francisco to the present, when he is still writing at age 80, Sherman has been putting words to paper. His body of work — an amazing number of books, poems, articles, and essays including well more than 400 novels — includes the Spur Award-winning novel Medicine Horn, a fur-trade story that was the first of a series he called The Buckskinners.
The publication of Grass Kingdom proved to be a turning point in his writing life. It was a major historical novel, the first in Sherman’s epic Barons of Texas series of novels dealing with the ranching Baron family of Texas through several generations. That series cemented his reputation as a distinguished storyteller of the American West.
“Jory Sherman has inspired many writers throughout the years,” said novelist Matt Braun. “He writes novels of excellence and his work ethic has made him one of the most prolific authors of all time. He ranks among the top Western writers of any generation, and his lifetime contribution to the literature of the American West clearly deserves the honor of the Owen Wister Award.”
But writing fiction is only one facet of a varied career. He is also a book packager, and at one point his Taneycomo packaging company was generating 52 titles a year for various paperback houses. The most notable of these was the Rivers West series, published by Bantam, with stories set upon the great rivers of the American West.
“Jory generously gave of himself in encouraging other writers,” WWA President Dusty Richards said, adding, “He showed many of us better ways to express ourselves.”
His writings are largely prose poems, the poet in him shaping his stories and often giving them a lyrical quality. He has the gift of language, and can paint vivid portraits not only of his characters, but the surrounding world in which their stories play out.
The Wister Award is a bronze statue of a buffalo created especially for Western Writers of America by artist Robert Duffie. It will be presented June 29.