Novelist Patrick D. Smith is the winner of the 2012 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing.
"I'm real thrilled," Smith said by phone from his home in Merritt Island on Friday. "This is a real nice award."
Smith, 84, is the author of seven novels, a nonfiction book and a short story collection. His best-known book is A Land Remembered, a historical novel first published in 1984 by Pineapple Press of Sarasota. Smith said it has sold more than 100,000 copies.
The saga of the pioneering MacIvey family, the novel stretches from 1858 to 1968 and brings to life a harsh and wildly beautiful Florida few contemporary residents know. A two-volume edition of A Land Remembered for children is taught in many Florida schools.
"When the kids read it, they really love it," Smith says. "Some of them tell me they never really knew what those words 'family values' meant before, because people don't live with their families in the same way now. It opens their eyes."
Smith, a Mississippi native who has lived in Florida since 1966, is the recipient of many awards and honors. In 1999 he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and in 2002 the Florida Historical Society gave him its one-time-only Fay Schweim Award for Greatest Living Floridian.
The Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing is presented by the Florida Humanities Council. The council's executive director, Janine Farver, said in a statement Friday that A Land Remembered is "the quintessential Florida story and should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the lives and landscape of pioneer Florida."
A panel of five judges (including Times book editor Colette Bancroft) selected Smith for this year's award. One judge, Joe Wisdom, professor of English at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, said copies of A Land Remembered "should be handed out with the orange juice at welcome stations to anyone who crosses the state line."
The award will be presented March 21 at a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee. Smith said he will be unable to attend because of the effects of injuries he suffered in a fall in 2009, but representatives of Pineapple Press will accept the award.
The Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing was instituted in 2010; previous winners are University of Florida historian Michael Gannon and novelist and journalist Carl Hiaasen.
Colette Bancroft can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435.