‘To the university I love most:’ MSU receives Neely Tucker papers collection

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Pulitzer-Prize nominated journalist and novelist Neely Tucker reads excerpts from his newest book, “Only the Hunted Run,” to members of the campus and local communities gathered Friday [Aug. 19] at Mississippi State’s Mitchell Memorial Library. During an afternoon program in the John Grisham Room, the Starkville Academy graduate who attended Mississippi State officially donated a collection of papers to the university libraries’ Special Collections department. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—If Neely Tucker had to describe himself in five words or less, “Mississippi” and “Mississippi State” would be among them.

“To be accepted back home and embraced in a very formal way by the university I love the most…a place that is more of my heart than I could say…is great. Thank you for one of the most surreal experiences of my life,” the Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and best-selling crime novelist told an audience of colleagues, family and friends gathered Friday [Aug. 19] in Mitchell Memorial Library’s John Grisham Room.

A seventh-generation Mississippian and a Starkville Academy graduate who attended Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi, Tucker’s donation to Mississippi State includes correspondence, annotated galleys from editors, manuscript copies of published works, diaries and other materials used throughout his extensive career as a journalist and novelist.

A 15-year staff writer for The Washington Post, Tucker has datelined stories from more than 60 countries or territories and more than 30 U.S. states. He currently is assigned to cover the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. A Holmes County native of Lexington, Tucker now resides near Washington, D.C., with his wife and their three children.

Jennifer McGillan, MSU Libraries manuscripts coordinator, explained that Tucker’s donation to Mississippi State is becoming part of the Mississippi Journalism and Literary Collections housed in the library’s Special Collections department.

“Neely’s collection will provide valuable insight into the craft of both journalism and fiction writing to students, faculty and other researchers,” McGillan said. “He has been reporting from a large number of hot spots over the years, so you are really seeing the news in action through his papers.”

Tucker said of the donation, “One of the reasons why I am most proud of having my work here at Mississippi State is the notion of who and what Mississippi is. Our beloved home state is artist-rich, and we have such an insane amount of particularly 20th century contributions to the arts.”

During Friday’s program, Tucker read from “Only the Hunted Run,” the newest addition to his Sully Carter Novel series, which is scheduled for release later this month by Viking.

Additionally, he read from and signed copies of his family memoir, “Love in the Driest Season” (Broadway Books). The 2005 story chronicles his years as a foreign correspondent, particularly covering war and violent conflict, which led to the adoption of his daughter Chipo from an AIDS-decimated orphanage in Zimbabwe.

Among other recognitions, the memoir was named one of the 25 Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly, the American Bookseller’s Association and the New York City Public Library.

MSU Dean of Libraries Frances Coleman welcomed Tucker and his family back to Mississippi State.

“Not all of us can just pick up a pen and write such wonderful books like Neely, but there’s one thing that most of us in this room have in common with him, and that is that he is a Bulldog!” Coleman said. “Neely really represents Starkville, Mississippi State and all of us in such a good manner.”

MSU Associate Dean of Libraries Stephen Cunetto thanked Tucker for his generous donation to Mississippi State. Cunetto also presented Tucker, an avid Mississippi State fan, with a cowbell for his extensive personal collection.

For more on MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library, visit www.library.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.