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

National Book Award long list in fiction

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: September 18, 2014 - 6:29 AM
Elizabeth McCracken, a finalist in 1996 for "The Giant's House," is on this yea's long list.

Elizabeth McCracken, a finalist in 1996 for "The Giant's House," is on this yea's long list.

Someone leaked the National Book Award long list to Huffington Post yesterday evening, and the New York Times published it, and so I did too, on Facebook, but here's the list again, this time with links to the Star Tribune reviews, where available.

And what a strong and interesting list!  A couple of story collections, a debut novel (written by a rock star), a novel set in the future, a novel set in the past, the last in a trilogy. And unlike the nonfiction list, which had only one woman, this one is evenly divided. 

The short list will be released Oct. 15 and the winner will be announced in November. Long lists for poetry, young people's literature, and nonfiction were released earlier this week.

Here goes:

Rabih Alameddine, ‘An Unnecessary Woman,’ Grove Press

Molly Antopol, ‘The UnAmericans,’ W.W. Norton & Company (short stories)

John Darnielle, ‘Wolf in White Van,’ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (debut novel)

Anthony Doerr, ‘All the Light We Cannot See,’ Scribner​

Phil Klay, ‘Redeployment,’ The Penguin Press

Emily St. John Mandel, ‘Station Eleven,’ Alfred A. Knopf

Elizabeth McCracken, ‘Thunderstruck & Other Stories,’ The Dial Press

Richard Powers, ‘Orfeo,’ W.W. Norton & Company

Marilynne Robinson, ‘Lila,’ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Strib review runs in October)

Jane Smiley, ‘Some Luck,’ Alfred A. Knopf (Strib review runs in October)

Graphic book on long list for National Book Award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: September 17, 2014 - 7:10 AM

The National Book Award long list for nonfiction was released this morning. Included on the list are a history of Paris during the time of the Nazis, a biography of Tennessee Williams, and a graphic memoir by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.

The short list will be announced in October, and the winner announced in November.

Long lists for poetry and young people's literature were announced earlier this week. Tomorrow the fourth long-list, for fiction, will be announced.

Here are the nonfiction nominees:

Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury)

John Demos, The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic
(Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House)

Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes
(Metropolitan Books/ Henry Holt and Company)

Nigel Hamilton, The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941 - 1942 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster)

John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (W.W. Norton & Company)

Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Ronald C. Rosbottom, When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 
(Little, Brown and Company/ Hachette Book Group)

Matthew Stewart, Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (W.W. Norton & Company)

Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence (Liveright Publishing Corporation/ W.W. Norton & Company)

Two Graywolf Press books on longlist for National Book Award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: September 16, 2014 - 8:27 AM

Two books published by Minneapolis' Graywolf Press are on the longlist for the National Book Award for poetry. The short list will be announced Oct. 15 and the winner announced in November.

Last year's winner, "Incarnadine," by Mary Szybist, was published by Graywolf.

Here's the list:

Louise Glück, ‘Faithful and Virtuous Night,’ Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Edward Hirsch, ‘Gabriel: A Poem,’ Alfred A. Knopf

Fanny Howe, ‘Second Childhood,’ Graywolf Press

Maureen N. McLane, ‘This Blue,’ Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Brian Blanchfield, ‘A Several World,’ Nightboat Books

Fred Moten, ‘The Feel Trio,’ Letter Machine Editions

Claudia Rankine, ‘Citizen: An American Lyric,’ Graywolf Press

Spencer Reece, ‘The Road to Emmaus,’ Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mark Strand, ‘Collected Poems,’ Alfred A. Knopf

The serial is over; long live the serial!

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: September 3, 2014 - 1:29 PM

And so, on Sunday, summer didn't just come to a close, but so did our summer serial. The last installment of Cary J. Griffith's "Savage Minnesota" ran on the Variety cover, ending both the mystery and the story.

(If you missed it, or missed any installments, or want to read it again, you can buy the e-book on our Website.)

The story was a fun one, set in Minneapolis and the south suburbs, a murder mystery with plenty of local color (and local wildlife).

And now we are starting to scout around for next summer's masterpiece. Got one?  You know you do. The story does not have to be set in Minnesota (though that helps) and it does not have to be a murder mystery, or a mystery at all (though mysteries do make good page-turners). You do not have to live here (though that also helps). The manuscript does have to be appropriate for a family newspaper, and it must be something that we can split into about 75 or 80 or 100 installments.

If you have an unpublished manuscript (unpublished either in print or online) that you would like us to consider, please email the first chapter (and only the first chapter) to If we like it, we'll ask to see more.

We will consider entries through Oct. 31.

Happy writing!

James McBride to headline the fall English @ Minnesota series

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: August 27, 2014 - 1:33 PM


James McBride. Photo by Chia Messina.

James McBride. Photo by Chia Messina.

This fall's English @ Minnesota series will bring in novelist (and jazz musician, and memoirist, and ...) James McBride, who will talk about "The Good Lord Bird," winner of the 2013 National Book Award (and soon to be a major motion picture, starring Jaden Smith) (and produced by McBride himself).

"The Good Lord Bird" is a funny, poignant novel about a young boy (nicknamed Onion) who travels with abolitionist John Brown in the months leading up to the Civil War.

McBride will be at Coffman Union Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8.

The program will also host:

Jeff Sharlet, Edelstein Keller visiting writer and the author of "Radiant Truths," "The Family," and other books of literary journalism. 7 p.m. Oct. 2. Upson Room, Walter Library.

Stacey D'Erasmo, author of "Wonderland" and other books. 7 p.m. Oct. 14, Weisman Art Museum.

A conference on John Berryman at 100, the weekend of Oct. 24-26, at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. Poet Berryman, who died in 1972, won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and taught at the University of Minnesota. 

Hunger Relief, with Jess Row. This will be the seventh annual hunger relief benefit, organized by Charles Baxter. Jess Row, author of "Your Face in Mine," will join the English Department's faculty raising money for Second Harvest Heartland. The benefit will be at 7 p.m. Nov 3 in McNamara Alumni Center. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5.

Jamaal May, Edelstein Keller visiting writer and author of "Hum," will read at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Upson Room of Walter Library.


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