Batt Humphreys is the 2010 recipient of the Palmetto Book Award bestowed by the South Carolina Center for the Book for excellence in writing. This is the fifth award debut novelist Batt Humphreys has received for his book Dead Weight, a true story of a murder, trial and hurricane in Charleston at the turn of the 20th century.
Dead Weight has earned significant critical acclaim garnering the IPPY gold medal for best true crime novel in 2010 from the Independent Publisher Awards; first place Benjamin Franklin Award for best work of historic fiction; and a top medal from Foreword Magazine for best historic fiction. Dead Weight was also a finalist for best book of fiction by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.
The novel is based on the true story of the State vs. Daniel Duncan. Dead Weight details the 1910 trial, conviction and execution of Daniel “Nealy” Duncan, a young black man of respectable employment and manners, arrested for murder on the eve of his wedding. The novel tells of a love story, described by one reviewer as “Shakespearean” in its tragic reality. The devastating hurricane that struck Charleston following the hanging is known as the Duncan Storm – divine wrath for the death of an innocent man.
Dead Weight was read in its entirety on National Public Radio this spring. Radio Reader host Dick Estell calls it “a stunning, tragic story.” Novelist Ron Rash says “Batt Humphreys brings both a reporter's gift for research and a novelist's imagination to his vivid recreation of 1910 Charleston.” Dead Weight is published by Joggling Board Press in Charleston.
Humphreys, a former senior producer for the CBS News, will be honored at an awards ceremony on Sept. 8 in Columbia.
The South Carolina Center for the Book is the South Carolina affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and is a cooperative project of the of South Carolina State Library, the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science, and The Humanities Council. Past winners include Mary Alice Monroe and Dr. Walter Edgar. The South Carolina State Library is a national model for innovation, collaboration, leadership and effectiveness. It is the keystone in South Carolina's intellectual landscape.