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From the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of Blackberries, Blackberries and Water Street comes an astonishing new novel. A lyrical exploration of love and loss, The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness.

Travels from: Kentucky

Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures.  

Her most recent novel, a lyrical exploration of love and loss, The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness.

Crystal identifies as a southern, feminist fiction writer, and grew up in the hills of Kentucky. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. She had her partner, poet and artist Ron Davis, own Wild Fig Books & Coffee which is located in the North Limestone neighborhood in Lexington.

Crystal Wilkinson’s Opulence, Kentucky is small geographically and in population, but the novel’s concerns are large - life, death, love, betrayal, despair and hope. Wilkinson is a lyrical writer, and, once encountered in these pages, her characters and their stories linger in our memories long after the last page is turned.
— Ron Rash, author of SERENA and ABOVE THE WATERFALL

Talks and Topics

  • The Birds of Opulence: Black Women and Mental Health

  • The Lure of Imaginary People: Readers and Writers

  • Writing from the Belly and the Heart: Fiction Workshop

  • Writing Your Family: Fiction Workshop

  • Mining Memories: Multiple Genre Workshop on Ancestry

  • Birth of a Story in an Hour or Less: Fiction Workshop



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