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

Hamline announces YA reading series

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 24, 2014 - 3:19 PM

Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu

As part of its Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults summer residency, Hamline University will host a ten-day reading series in July, featuring notable writers of books for children. Authors include Twin Cities writer Anne Ursu, whose latest book ("The Real Boy")  was on the long list for the National Book Award; Gene Yuen Lang, whose "Boxers and Saints" was a finalist for the award, and many others. The keynote address, which will take place at graduation, will be by author and illustrator Vera B. Williams, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award.

The series runs from July 11 through July 20 and is free and open to the public. All events will be in Room 110E of the Giddens Learning Center on the Hamline Campus, except for the keynote address, which will be in the Anne Simley Theater of the Drew Fine Arts Center.

Here's the schedule:

Ron Koertge, Marsha Qualey, Laura RubyFriday, July 11, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Clare Vanderpool: Saturday, July 12, 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Gary Schmidt, Jane Resh Thomas, Marsha Chall: Sunday, July 13, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Gene Luen Yang, Anne Ursu, Phyllis Root: Monday, July 14, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Swati Avasthi, Claire Rudolf Murphy, Jackie Briggs MartinTuesday, July 15, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Ricki Thompson, Alicia Williams, Melinda Cordell: Wednesday, July 16, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Sara Kvois, Mike Petry, Katie Knutson: Thursday, July 17, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Maria Macioce, Araceli EsparzaSaturday, July 19, 6:45 – 8 p.m.

Vera Williams: Sunday, July 20, 3:30-4:30 p.m.,Drew Fine Arts Center, Anne Simley Theatre.

Journalist held prisoner 460 days in Somalia coming to the Loft

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 19, 2014 - 1:10 PM

Amanda Lindhout

Amanda Lindhout

As a girl, Amanda Lindhout had always wanted to see the world, and at age 27 she found herself in Baghdad, filing news reports for a couple of American networks and writing for her hometown paper in Canada. She headed for Somalia, where she hoped to do a month's worth of reporting, but on her fourth day she and the photographer she was traveling with were kidnapped by insurgents.

They were held 460 days, freed only after their families managed to raise $600,000 through fund-raisers, borrowing, donations, and other means. Lindhout (with New York Times magazine writer Sara Corbett) wrote a book about the experience, "A House in the Sky," newly out in paperback. (Here's a link to the Strib review.) 

While still a captive, Lindhout decided that if she was ever freed, she would work to help bring education and development to Somalia. She has since established the nonprofit Global Enrichment Foundation, which works with people in Somalia and Kenya. 

Lindhout will be in the Twin Cities at 7 p.m. Tuesday (June 24) at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls., at an event co-sponsored by the American Refugee Committee, the Loft, and Magers & Quinn.

PEN Literary Awards shortlist announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 18, 2014 - 2:44 PM
Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Said Sayrafiezadeh

The shortlist for the PEN Literary Awards was announced today. Winners will be announced Sept. 29.

Here's the whole list, with links to our reviews, when available.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest), Shawn Vestal
The People in the Trees (Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Forty-One False Starts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Janet Malcolm
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown and Company), David Sedaris
The Faraway Nearby (Viking Adult), Rebecca Solnit
Critical Mass (Doubleday), James Wolcott

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 2013.

The End of Night (Little, Brown and Company), Paul Bogard
Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink
High Price (Harper), Carl Hart
Surfaces and Essences (Basic Books), Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander
Wild Ones (Penguin Press), Jon Mooallem

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.

Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013.

Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
Margaret Fuller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Deborah Solomon
A Life of Barbara Stanwyck (Simon & Schuster), Victoria Wilson

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013.

Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
The Sports Gene (Current), David Epstein
League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
The Emerald Mile (Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
Their Life’s Work (Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.

Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
Tea Party Rules (Viking), Ame Dyckman
The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
Crabtree (McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013.

Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Zephyr Press), Andrew Wachtel
Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.

An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
Transit by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Yale University Press), Jeffrey Gray
The Emperor’s Tomb by Joseph Roth (New Directions), Michael Hofmann
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov

Louise Erdrich's O. Henry Prize-winning story inspired by childhood memories

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 13, 2014 - 10:56 AM

The advance copy of "The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014" landed on my desk last week while I was out of town. The annual anthology was edited this year by Laura Furman and dedicated to Alice Munro, the Canadian writer who thrilled all lovers of the short story everywhere last year when she won the Nobel Prize. Furman herself is the author of seven books, including "The Mother Who Stayed," a collection of stories, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.

Among this year's 20 O. Henry Award winners is Minnneapolis writer Louise Erdrich, who won for "Nero," which ran in the New Yorker. Other winners include the great Irish writer William Trevor, who could probably win every year; Laura van den Berg, and Stephen Dixon.

In the notes at the back of the book, Erdrich recounts how she came to write "Nero":  

"My grandparents really had a dog named Nero who escaped continually from the backyard," she writes, in part. "The misery of his life contrasted deeply with the characters of my tough but kind grandparents. I never knew what to make of Nero until suddenly, one morning, I was writing this story. ... The python lyceum, as well, was based on a real show. It is my most enthralling memory from grade two at Zimmerman Elementary School in Wahpeton" (North Dakota).

Aging grandparents, an escaping dog, a python lyceum? If you're not a New Yorker subscriber, this is a story to track down. Or wait for the collection, which pubs Sept. 9. 

Awards, awards, awards

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: May 23, 2014 - 2:11 PM

So many awards, no room to say anything more; let's just get right to them. Last week, the Minnesota Independent Publishers Association held its annual gala at Luther Seminary in St. Paul and handed out nearly 50 awards. MIPA (as the group is known) represents small, university, independent and self-publishers in the Midwest and has been holding the gala for 24 years. Here's the list of this year's winners:

Arts: Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District by Karen Melvin, published by Big Picture Press

Autobiography/Memoir: Here Comes the Sun by Brian Lucas, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Biography: Confronting Slavery by Suzanne Cooper Guasco, published by Northern Illinois University Press

Business: Hospitality from the Heart by Brandon W. Johnson & Katherine Foley Roden, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Children’s Fiction: The Colored Car by Jean Alicia Elster, published by Wayne State University Press

Children’s Non-Fiction: Great Ships on the Great Lakes by Catherine M. Green, Jefferson J. Gray, and Bobbie Malone, published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Children’s Picture Books: Angels by Alexis York-Lumbad, illustrated by Flavia Weedn, published by Wisdom Tales

Coffee Table Books: Dances Through Glass by Polly Norman, designed by Dorie McClelland, published by Avant Circle Publishing

Cookbook: Amalia’s Guatemalan Kitchen by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Crafts and Hobbies: First-Time Machine Applique by Janet Pittman, published by Landauer Publishing

Culture: Amalia’s Guatemalan Kitchen by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Current Events/Political Science: A View from the Interior by Susan Riseling, published by MavenMark

Education/Learning: Catch the Sun by Anne Johnson, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Family/Parenting: Ready for Air by Kate Hopper, published by University of Minnesota Press

Fiction: Contemporary: Turtle Season by Miriam Ruth Black, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Fiction: Fantasy/SciFi/Horror/Paranormal: Orphans by Ben Tanzer, published by Switchgrass Books

Fiction: Historical: Seeking Signs by Staci Angelina Mercado, published by Four Feathers Press

Fiction: Literary: Bolt by Douglas W. Rose, published by Three Towers Press

Fiction: Mystery/Thriller: Wolves by Cary J. Griffith, published by Adventure Publications

Fiction: Romance: Turtle Season by Miriam Ruth Black, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Fiction: Short Story/Anthology: Something That Feels Like Truth by Donald Lystra, published by Switchgrass Books

Health: The Gray Zone by Deborah Day Laxson, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

History: Race and Rights by Dana Elizabeth Weiner, published by Northern Illinois University Press

Humor: From the Top by Michael Perry, published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Inspiration/Gift Book: Growing Through the Narrow Spots by Ruth Bachman, published by Tristan Publishing

Midwest Regional Interest: Illustration: One Small Farm by text and photos by Craig Schreiner, published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Midwest Regional Interest: Text: Something for Everyone by Michael Leannah, published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Nature: From Where I See It by Karen Olson Johnson, published by Amber Skye Publishing LLC

Poetry: The Cancer Poetry Project 2 by Karin D. Miller, published by Tasora Books

Publisher’s Website: Beaver’s Pond Press

Recreation/Sports: Fore! Gone: Minnesota’s Lost Golf Courses by Joe Bissen, published by Five Star Publishing

Reference: Royal C. Moore: The Man Who Built the Streetcar Boats by Lori Cherland-McCune, published by Beaver’s Pond Press

Religion/Philosophy: Tillich by Daniel J. Peterson, published by Lutheran University Press

Self-Help: Nourishing the Grieving Heart by Jane Thompson with Holly Cashin, published by Empath Press, LLC

Social Sciences: Old Barns and Country Skills of Southeast Michigan by Derek P. Brereton, published by In-Depth Editions

Travel: St. Paul Almanac by multiple authors, published by Arcata Press

Young Adult Fiction: They’re Always With You by Mary Clare Lockman, published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Young Adult Non-Fiction: The Compassionate Warrior by Elsa Marston, published by Wisdom Tales

Cover: Dances Through Glass by Polly Norman, designed by Dorie McClelland, published by Avant Circle Publishing

Illustration: Graphic: The Otter, the Spotted Frog and the Great Flood by Gerald Hausman, illustrated by Ramon Shiloh, published by Wisdom Tales

Illustration: Photography: Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District by Karen Melvin, with photography by Karen Melvin, published by Big Picture Press

Interior Layout: Children of the Tipi by Michael Oren Fitzgerald, designed by Stephen Williams, published by Wisdom Tales

Total Book Design: Dances Through Glass by Polly Norman, designed by Dorie McClelland, published by Avant Circle Publishing

And then last night, up in Duluth, the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards celebration was held, with Cathy Wurzer as keynote speaker.  Here are the winners:

Fiction: "Tamarack County," by William Kent Krueger, published by Atria Books. 

Honorarable mention: Timber: Fire in the Pines, by A. L. Sanderson, published by Haven Publishing. 

Poetry: "Bound Together: Like the Grasses," by Deborah Cooper, Candace Ginsberg, Ann Floreen Niedringhaus, Ellie Schoenfeld, and Anne Simpson, published by Clover Valley Press. 

Honorable mention: "Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems," by Louis Jenkins, published by Will o’ the Wisp Books.

General Nonfiction: "The Pie Place Café Cookbook: Food & Stories Seasoned by the North Shore," by Kathy Rice, published by Lake Superior Port Cities, Inc..

Honorable mention: "Esko’s Corner: An Illustrated History of Esko and Thomson Township," by Esko Historical Society, edited by Davis Helberg, published by X-presso Books.

Children’s Literature: "The Best Part of a Sauna," written by Sheryl Peterson, illustrated by Kelly Dupre, published by Raven Productions, Inc.

Honorable mention: "Finding Hope," by Michelle Myers Lackner, published by Adventure Publications. 

Memoir / Creative Nonfiction: "Threads of Hope: Caring for Babies Across Three Continents," by Martha Andrea Aas, M.D., published by Lakeberry Press. 

Honorable mention: "The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder, and the Light from an Ancient Sky," by Kent Nerburn.

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