Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Posts about Book news

Saturday's the day to celebrate your favorite indie bookstore

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 29, 2015 - 10:52 AM

It started, as so many things do, in California. Now in its second year, Independent Bookstore Day has gone national, spreading across the country with celebrations, giveaways, parties and special events. More than 400 stores nationwide will take part in Saturday’s celebration, including dozens in Minnesota.

In the Twin Cities, home to nearly 30 indie bookstores, you can play F. Scott Fitzgerald bingo, make your own ’zine in the middle of the night, dance around a Maypole, get your picture taken with a lamb (a real one! actually, two real ones!) and, oh yeah, buy some books and chat up some authors.

For details, it's best to check the Website or Facebook page of your favorite indie, or just stop by. But here’s a sampling of what will be going on:

You might want to start at Moon Palace Books, 2820 E. 33rd St., Mpls., because they have put together a bright green map of all the indie bookstores in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They’re also giving away free tote bags (with purchase), coupons for Peace Coffee (right next door), and will raffle off a big basket of bookish goodies.

Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Ave. S., Mpls., will stay open all night, with prices falling every hour. The later the hour, the more customers save; at the 8 a.m. opening time, book prices will be 1 percent off but by, say, 3 a.m. Sunday they’ll be 20 percent off. They will also have staplers, paper cutters, collage material, and other things on hand if you feel like crafting your own book or ’zine.

Birchbark Books, 2115 W. 21st St., Mpls., will host dancing, crafts, Maypole dancing, face-painting, and food samples from Heid Erdrich’s “Original Local” cookbook.

Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., will have doughnuts and coffee in the morning, literary board games in the evening, and in between will host impromptu poetry and Obscure Book Recommendations from the extremely literary folks at Rain Taxi Review.

Uncle Hugo's, 2864 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., will give you a free totebag with a $50 purchase.

In St. Paul, Common Good Books, 38 S. Snelling Av., will host a full day of events which includes more doughnuts and coffee (if you drive fast, you might be able to hit both places), coupons for Nice Ride bikes (Magers & Quinn is doing this too), a walking tour of Little Free Libraries (not all of them, just the ones near the store), Fitzgerald Bingo and more.

Red Balloon 891 Grand Av., St. Paul, has root beer and cookies (a healthful alternative to doughnuts and coffee), a book-signing with picture book author David LaRochelle and face-painting. Back across the river (on your Nice Ride, maybe), Wild Rumpus, 2720 W. 43rd St., has more face-painting and photo ops with a live sheep and two lambs — there with shepherdess and author Joan Jarvis Ellison.

You know--this might be the day where you visit all of the indies. Think about it! In your painted face, full of Erdrich's food, as well as doughnuts, the winnings from your bingo game stuffed into your free Uncle Hugo bag, you pedal your free rented bike back and forth across the river ... Once you're done with the Twin Ciites, you can keep going. With 400 stores across the country taking part, that could prove to be one busy Saturday.

Milkweed Editions nature writer speaks at the United Nations

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 28, 2015 - 11:30 AM
Robin Kimmerer speaking at the United Nations.

Robin Kimmerer speaking at the United Nations.

Robin Kimmerer, professor of environmental biology at the State University of New York and the author of several award-winning books about nature, spoke at the United Nations on Monday. Kimmerer had been invited by the president of the U.N. general assembly to take part in a panel on how harmony with nature can help conserve natural resources.

Kimmerer’s book, “Braiding Sweetgrass,” published by Milkweed Editions of Minneapolis, won the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. Her earlier book, “Gathering Moss,” won the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing.

She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

"Can we turn our attention away from the covenant of unlimited growth and return to the covenant of reciprocity?" she asked.

"As we give thanks for the earth, will we live in such a way that the earth will be thankful for us? ...We humans are more than consumers, we have gifts of our own to give to the earth." 

Per Petterson on writing, translating, and his reluctance to revise

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 23, 2015 - 4:16 PM
Novelist Per Petterson (right) and Geir Berdahl, publisher at Oktober in Norway, which publishes both Petterson and Karl Ove Knausgaard

Novelist Per Petterson (right) and Geir Berdahl, his publisher at Oktober in Norway, which publishes both Petterson and Karl Ove Knausgaard

Per Petterson does not map out his novels in advance, the Norwegian author told a crowd at Macalester College on Tuesday night. Nor does he work with drafts. He writes slowly and straightforwardly, sentence by sentence, trusting his hard work to lead him to the next sentence, the next idea. He does not know what's going to happen in the end; he often does not know what's going to happen on the next page. "I trust my subconscious," he said.

If you've read his novels --- "Out Stealing Horses," for instance, winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, or his new one, "I Refuse," published this month by Graywolf Press --- you will have noticed his gorgeous complicated prose, "run-on sentences, tripping over their own dropped clauses, pricked with intermittence, properly punctuated but curiously unpunctual," as James Wood said in the New Yorker.

Petterson said that he works hard on these sentences, works on the rhythm and the meaning. Maybe the sentence ends with a two-syllable word and it really needs three syllables, so he digs around in his brain and finds the right three-syllable word, but that word has a slightly different meaning than the two syllable word, so then he has to go back and rework the rest of the sentence. And when it's done, when it's right, he moves on.

Even a complex novel like "I Refuse," a beautifully braided story that alternates between two time periods (the 1970s, and present day) and two main narrators (but there is a third narrator, and, twice, a third time period), and between first person and third person--even that book, he says, he wrote straight through. He did not map it, did not cut it into pieces and move sections around. Except for one section--he moved one of the sections about the protagonist's mother. "And it felt like cheating," he said. He doesn't normally write that way.

"Out Stealing Horses," also published in the United States by Graywolf, was a world-wide best seller, translated into 50 languages. Petterson admitted to being difficult to work with when it comes to translation. The English version, in particular, was important to him. "I love the English language," he said, and he used to work in translation himself. So once the translator was done, Petterson jumped in, rewriting, changing, working with his editor via Skype. Where was the translator during this? He is over here somewhere, he said, waving his hand to indicate, well, Siberia, maybe, or the boonies.

(When it comes to working on translations, Petterson said in an interview last year with writer Tasja Dorkofikis, "I guess I am a little more than average involved.")

The title of "Out Stealing Horses" was originally translated as, "Out to Steal Horses," which Petterson could not live with. It was wrong, he said. "What does that mean, Out to Steal Horses? Nothing, it means nothing," he said. No worries. He fixed it.

So what of the 49 other translations? The two Chinese-language editions, the Italian, the Spanish? Did he worry about the quality of those translations too? "Of course," he said. But he can only do so much.

An audience member, noting the lyricism of Petterson's prose, asked him if he also wrote poetry. "No," Petterson said. "I read a lot of poetry. All fiction writers should, I think. What I have of poetry in me goes into the prose."

When he began writing "I Refuse," he had the opening scene--a well-known bridge in Oslo---and he had a character: an unhappy man who had lost nearly everything and who had come to the bridge to fish.

What would happen next? Petterson had no idea. He trusted his subconscious, he said. And sure enough, along the bridge came a big fancy car and a rich man in a purple coat. Who was the man? Petterson let his subconscious figure that out. For his part, he just kept writing, one sentence at a time.

Encores for three Minnesota Book Award winners

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 18, 2015 - 9:33 PM
This year's trophy is made of blue glass.

This year's trophy is made of blue glass.

Novelist Marlon James and poet Joyce Sidman each picked up their second Minnesota Book Award on Saturday night, and previous nominees Julie Klassen and Margi Preus also were among the winners. The Star Tribune's editorial writer Lori Sturdevant picked up her first award for writing; she had previously won two Minnesota Book Awards for editing.

The annual event drew about 800 people to St. Paul’s Union Depot for a festive night of music, champagne and celebration of the written word. Here are the winners:

Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:
Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen: “Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. Sidman, a Newbery Honor-winning author, won a Minnesota Book Award in 2010. She lives in Wayzata. Allen is an award-winning illustrator and printmaker in Duluth.

General Nonfiction, sponsored by Minnesota AFL-CIO:
Nancy Koester: “Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life,” published by William B. Eerdman Publishing Co. Koester is an ordained Lutheran minister and spiritual director. 

Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
Julie Klassen: “The Secret of Pembrooke Park,” published by Bethany House Publishers. Klassen is the author of eight novels, including three winners of the Christy Award for Historical Romance.

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual:
Kaethe Schwehn: “Tailings: A Memoir,” published by Cascade Books/Wipf and Stock Publishers. Schwehn is the co-editor of “Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts.” She teaches at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Minnesota, sponsored by St. Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Lori Sturdevant: “Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement,” published by the  Minnesota Historical Society Press. Sturdevant is an editorial columnist for the Star Tribune and has written a number of books on Minnesota history.She won a Minnesota Book Award in 2003 for editing "Overcoming: The Autobiography of W. Harry Davis," and in 2001 for editing Elmer L. Andersen's "A Man's Reach."

Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Education Minnesota:
Marlon James: “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” published by Riverhead Books. James is the author of “The Book of Night Women,” winner of a 2010 Minnesota Book Award. He teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
Sean Hill: “Dangerous Goods,” published by Milkweed Editions. Hill, who was born and raised in Milledgeville, Ga., also is the author of “Blood Ties & Brown Liquor.”

Young People’s Literature, sponsored by the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University:
Margi Preus: “West of the Moon,” published by Amulet Books. Preus, who lives in Duluth, is a Newbery Honor Award-winning author of five books for young readers. 

Also at the event, writer and educator Mary François Rockcastle received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award for her long-standing contributions to Minnesota’s literary community. And Harriet Bart and her collaborative partners, Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne, won the eighth annual Book Artist Award for a new piece entitled “Ghost Maps.” Since 2000, Bart, Gallo and Jevne have collaborated to produce 10 artist books, two of which have received Minnesota Book Awards.

Judges sifted through 250 books nominated for awards this year, with 32 books selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by judges from around the state. 

PEN/Literary Award short list includes small and indie publishers

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 16, 2015 - 11:16 AM

Leslie Jamison.

The shortlists for the PEN Literary Awards were announced today, and there's Graywolf Press (Leslie Jamison and Claudia Rankine) as well as books published by other small presses--a growing force in the world of publishing. Tin House, Sarabande, Princeton University Press, Soho.

The winners will be announced May 13, with an awards ceremony in June.

Here are the lists, with links to Star Tribune reviews when available.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2014—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

The UnAmericans (W. W. Norton & Company), Molly Antopol

Ruby (Hogarth), Cynthia Bond

Redeployment (Penguin Press), Phil Klay

The Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Jack Livings

Love Me Back (Doubleday), Merritt Tierce

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Moral Imagination (Princeton University Press), David Bromwich

Theater of Cruelty (New York Review Books), Ian Buruma

Loitering (Tin House Books), Charles D’Ambrosio

The Empathy Exams (Graywolf Press), Leslie Jamison

Limber (Sarabande Books), Angela Pelster

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2014.

War of the Whales (Simon & Schuster), Joshua Horwitz

How We Got to Now (Riverhead Books), Steven Johnson

The Sixth Extinction (Henry Holt and Co.), Elizabeth Kolbert

The Age of Radiance (Scribner), Craig Nelson

Proof (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Adam Rogers

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): To an author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in 2013 or 2014.

Our Declaration (Liveright), Danielle Allen

League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru

Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink

The Big Truck That Went By (Palgrave Macmillan), Jonathan M. Katz

This Changes Everything (Simon & Schuster), Naomi Klein

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014.

An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press), Rabih Alameddine

Every Day Is for the Thief (Random House), Teju Cole

An Untamed State (Black Cat/ Grove Atlantic), Roxane Gay

Citizen (Graywolf Press), Claudia Rankine

The City Son (Soho Press), Samrat Upadhyay

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2014.

Rebel Yell (Scribner), S. C. Gwynne

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (Scribner), Jeff Hobbs

Strange Glory (Alfred A. Knopf), Charles Marsh

The Queen's Bed (Sarah Crichton Books), Anna Whitelock

Piero's Light (Pegasus Books), Larry Witham

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2014.

Boy on Ice (W. W. Norton & Company), John Branch

Black Noon (Thomas Dunne Books), Art Garner

All Fishermen are Liars (Simon & Schuster), John Gierach

Ping-Pong Diplomacy (Scribner), Nicholas Griffin

Deep (Eamon Dolan Books), James Nestor

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2014.

Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon (Action Books), translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi

I Am the Beggar of the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the Pashto by Eliza Griswold

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz by Juana Inés de la Cruz (W. W. Norton & Company), translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman

Breathturn into Timestead by Paul Celan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the German by Pierre Joris

Guantanamo by Frank Smith (Les Figues Press), translated from the Spanish by Vanessa Place

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014.

The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla (New York Review Books), translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush

The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon

Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt (Two Lines Press), translated from the Danish by Denise Newman

Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa (Deep Vellum Publishing), translated from the Spanish by Samantha Schnee

Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye (Two Lines Press), translated from the French by Jordan Stump

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