Photographer Philip Gould was awarded the 2016 James William Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies for his “extensive documentation and celebration of Louisiana through documentary and architectural photography,” according to the UL-Lafayette Center for Louisiana Studies, which administers the prize. Gould’s photographs are featured in more than a dozen books as well as other publications, and he has won several awards including the Louisiana Governor’s Arts Award for Best Artist and the first Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography given by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
The 2017 recipient is cultural anthropologist Maida Owens, chosen for her “longstanding commitment to and leadership in preserving and expanding our understanding of Louisiana’s cultures through folkloric survey work and the dissemination of research through innovative and diverse channels and media.” Owens has served as Folklife Program director for the Louisiana Division of the Arts for nearly three decades and received the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for lifetime achievement in public folklore from the American Folklore Society. She is an author, documentary producer and researcher and has won numerous awards, including the 1993 American Anthropological Award of Excellence and the 1993 American Association for the State and Local History Award of Merit.
Books make excellent gifts and provide hours of entertainment, education and enjoyment. If you’re in need of gift ideas, here are some wonderful Louisiana-based coffee table books to consider.
I’ve always been fascinated by Marfa, that small West Texas town that became a haven for artists over the past few decades. Photographer John Slaughter, who shares his time between Marfa and his hometown of Grand Coteau, introduces us to this unique spot of Americana in a gorgeous book of photography titled “Marfa and the Mystique of Far West Texas,” published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. The sunsets are brilliant, the rain bursts rare but breathtaking, the artwork unusual and unique and the sky as big as Texas. I’ll never curse that stretch of I-10 again after viewing Slaughter’s photos. Instead, I’ve got Marfa on my bucket list.
I reported earlier of meeting Emile Waagenaar at the Louisiana Book Festival and hearing his story of how he listened to Cajun music in his home in the Netherlands. Waagenaar traveled to Louisiana to witness and photograph this unique sound and the result is a insightful coffee table book of photographs titled “Arrete pas la musique! Portraits of South Louisiana,” also published by ULL Press.
Melinda Risch Winans was introduced to photographer Theodore Fonville Winans by way of marriage to his son, and over the years she appreciated not only his photographic talents but his culinary creations as well. When she discovered about 250 of her father-in-law’s handwritten recipes after his death, she decided to turn them into a cookbook. The result is “The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist,” co-written with Cynthia Lejeune Nobles and published by LSU Press, recently named a Fall 2017 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. The book naturally includes the recipes, but also Fonville Winans’ story accented by his photos, many of which have never been seen in print. Chef John Folse, whose own cookbooks used Winans’ photographs as inspiration for his covers, writes the foreword.
Another delightful cookbook combines traditional Southern food with French cooking techniques. “Dinner Déjà Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow” by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and a Georgia resident, explains how to create healthy Southern dishes with a French flare. Many recipes will resonate with Louisiana residents and their fusion cuisine, dishes such as braised quail with wild mushrooms and cognac, asparagus and Vidalia onion quiche, succotash with tarragon and crème fraiche and cherry pie with Chantilly crème. Of course, there’s braised collard greens, shrimp and grits, shrimp Creole and other Southern favorites. Booker is also the author of “Field Peas to Fois Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent.”
Jennifer Bates of Lafayette has published her debut novel, a romantic suspense titled “The Boss’s Daughter,” the first book in the “Black Rose Series.” Set in Massachusetts and Louisiana, the daughter of a mob boss must choose between her loyalty to the family and the FBI.
Deborah LeBlanc of Lafayette has published “The Witch’s Thirst” by Harlequin Nocturnal, where if a witch from a long and distinguished line loves a human, all of humanity will suffer. Resisting the temptations of men has never been terribly difficult for Evette Francois — until she meets Lucien Hyland.
William Watson recently wrote to gush about a Louisiana novelist he enjoys. Pat Joffrion has published two novels, “Complicit” and “Unknown Justice,” “each of which I could not lay down but had to continue reading these spellbinding novels based on some real-life experiences of the author,” Watson wrote me. Sounds like good reading to me.
Chere Coen is the author of several Louisiana non-fiction books and the “Viola Valentine” Louisiana paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.