Kim Heacox has been awarded the the National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature (Fiction) for his novel, Jimmy Bluefeather.
Heacox, a nature writer and photographer, was haunted for over a decade by a character that now lives in Jimmy Bluefeather. Old Keb “spoke to him”—wise and witty—about adventures, love, growing old, and reconciliation. A labor of love, Heacox had worked on the book for twelve years before approaching Douglas Pfeiffer, Publishing Director of Alaska Northwest Books. “We hadn’t published a work of original adult fiction in 56 years, but Kim’s manuscript took us by storm.”
The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is the outdoor world’s largest and most prestigious book award program. Ron Watters of NOBA says, “One of the highlights of this year’s contest was the first award given to a work of fiction. The winning title is Jimmy Bluefeather, authored by Kim Heacox. Heacox’s story is about 95-year old Tlingit Native named Old Keb, the last living canoe carver in a small village in Southeast Alaska. The old native begins work on what will become his last great canoe. Along with his grandson, two friends and a dog named Steve, they embark on a voyage to the Tlingit ancestral homeland. This is a masterful portrait of contemporary Alaska. What makes this story so appealing is the character Old Keb. He is as memorable as any character in literature and adds a humor and warmth that will keep you reading well into the night.”
Throughout the book, Old Keb shares with the reader his sage and quirky, memorable wisdoms learned through living nearly 100 years. Heacox’s favorite Keb-isms include these: “Don’t die before you’re dead. Most of your limitations are in your head. Dig deep and live young, even when you’re old. Find what you’re most passionate about, and do it. Honor the past and where you came from without being blinded by ideology and too much money; stay open to new ideas and other ways of seeing and being, to what’s really true. Honor and caretake the elderly but surround yourself with young people. Be thankful. Live in gratitude. It’s seldom too late to be young again, to find the vibrant you that you might have stopped being long ago. And don’t let anybody take away your language, force you to wear tight shoes, or put too much sugar in your nagoonberry pie.”
“While the setting is distinctly Alaskan, the message in Jimmy Bluefeather is one that transcends boundaries of place, generation, and culture,” says Pfeiffer. “A Tlingit glossary (only 100 people still speak Tlingit today) and a revealing author Q&A at the end add value to the book for readers.”
In this award-winning book, Kim Heacox’s Old Keb character and many others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the reader’s heart, in this memorable story of adventure, love, and reconciliation.
Fun fact: Kim has been staying in a remote cabin, so as of the time of the press release, he still didn’t know that he had won!
For more about Kim Heacox and Jimmy Bluefeather, enjoy the Conversation between the author and his publisher.