Rick Bragg, author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’ and a Pulitzer Prize-winning national correspondent for the New York Times, says he learned to tell stories by listening to the masters, the people of the foothills of the Appalachians. They talked, of the sadness, poverty, cruelty, kindness, hope, hopelessness, faith, anger and joy of their everyday lives, and painted pictures on the very haze of the early evening, when work faded into story-telling.
Those stories are the backbone of his third book, AVA’S MAN, the story of a whiskey man, poacher, roofer and folk legend who was his mother's father, and the grandfather he never saw.
His first book, SHOUTIN’, was the story of a mother who absorbed the cruelties of an alcoholic husband haunted by his service in the Korean War, and showed how she gave her life, in endless cotton fields, to make a living for her three sons. The book, a New York Times notable book of the year, won several awards and was selected as one of the best books of the year by several news organizations and reader groups.
Bragg was born in Alabama, grew up there, and worked at several newspapers before joining the New York Times in 1994. He covered the murder and unrest in Haiti while a metro reporter there, then wrote about the Oklahoma City bombing, the Jonesboro killings, the Susan Smith trial and more as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. He later became Miami Bureau Chief for the Times just in time for Elian Gonzalez's arrival and the international battle for the little boy. He is now a roving correspondent based in New Orleans.
He has twice won the prestigious American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award, and more than 50 writing awards in his 20-year career. In 1992, he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. He has taught writing in colleges and in newspaper news rooms.
He is also the author of SOMEBODY TOLD ME, a critically acclaimed collection of his newspaper stories.