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 Local publishers

Looking forward to autumn

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 12, 2013 - 11:31 AM


Robert Bly at the launch of "Airmail." Star Tribune photo by Jerry Holt.

Robert Bly at the launch of "Airmail." Star Tribune photo by Jerry Holt.


And why not look forward to fall, when this summer is refusing to make an appearance? Let's skip it, then, and head right for the fall books. There's lots to look forward to, locally, with Garrison Keillor and Kevin Fenton and Kate DiCamillo and Kevin Kling and Robert Bly and ....

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are some of the books by Minnesota writers we're looking forward to. Starting with .... poetry!

"Stealing Sugar From the Castle: Selected and New Poems 1950-2013," by Robert Bly (W.W. Norton, September). A new book by Minnesota's most venerable poet is always an event.

"O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound," by Garrison Keillor. (Grove Press, October) Named, I think for this poem about, well, about taking, a, well, how can I say this, about, um, going to the .... um.... bleeding the .... um.... let's just say this particular poem is more vulgar than profound.

"Dance," by Lightsey Darst (Coffee House Press, September). Darst, currently writer-in-residence at the Walker Art Center (you can follow her blog here), won a Minnesota Book Award for her first collection, "Find the Girl."


"Leaving Rollingstone," by Kevin Fenton. (Minnesota Historical Society Press/Borealis Books, September). Fenton won the AWP award for the novel for his first book, "Merit Badges."

"Ready for Air," by Kate Hopper (University of Minnesota Press, October). A longtime writer and writing teacher, primarily about motherhood, Hopper here writes about premature motherhood.

"Prairie Sky," by W. Scott Olsen (University of Missouri Press, September). Olsen teaches at Concordia College and is the author of several books. This collection of essays is about viewing the world from the altitude of a pilot.


Mentioned before, but worth mentioning again...

"Big Little Mother," by Chris Monroe and Kevin Kling. The sequel, of sorts, to "Big Little Brother."

"The Illuminated Adventures of Flora & Ulysses," by Kate DiCamillo. A blend of novel and graphic novel, it's the story of a little girl, a magic squirrel, and a broken marriage.

We'll get to fiction in another blog post..... For now, remember: Rainy weather is good reading weather.






Graywolf title wins International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 6, 2013 - 2:53 PM


Kevin Barry.

Kevin Barry.

Kevin Barry's novel "City of Bohane," published last year by Minneapolis' Graywolf Press, has won the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, one of the most significant literary prizes in the world.It comes with a cash prize of 100,000 euros (about $130,000) and is open to any book published in English.


Barry beat out a stellar crowd. Also in the running for the award were "1Q84," by Haruki Murakami, "Pure," by Andrew Miller, "The Buddha in the Attic," by Julie Otsuka, "The Tragedy of Arthur," by Minnesota writer Arthur Phillips, "Swamplandia!," by Karen Russell, "From the Mouth of the Whale," by Sjon, "The Faster I Walk the Smaller I am," by Kjersti A. Skomsvold, and "Caesarian," by Tommy Wieringa.

Previous winners include Colm Toibin, Edward P. Jones, Orhan Pamuk, and Graywolf author Per Petterson, for "Out Stealing Horses."

Barry also recently won the Sunday Times Short Story Award for his "Beer Trip to Llandudno," which will appear in "Dark Lies the Island," a collection of stories to be published this fall by Graywolf Press.


Kling and Monroe, together again.

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 6, 2013 - 1:44 PM



One of the most charming hits of the 2011 season was the picture book "Big Little Brother," a collaboration between a Duluth illustrator and a Twin Cities writer. Chris Monroe (the illustrator) and Kevin Kling (the writer) fit together like green eggs and ham. Both have fantastic imaginations and a quirky sense of humor, and both mine their Minnesota childhoods for their work.

Monroe writes and draws the cartoon, "Violet Days," which runs Fridays in the Star Tribune Variety section, and is the author and illustrator of the "Monkey With a Tool Belt" series. Kling is a nationally-renowned storyteller, as well as the author of the essay collections "The Dog Says How," and "Holiday Inn." 

"Big Little Brother" sprang from a true story from Kling's childhood, and it is about his love-hate-love relationship with his younger brother, who was bigger than he was. This fall's book, "Big Little Mother," is about his relationship with his sister. I promised not to reveal the story, but I think I'm OK in telling you that it involves a cat, cream cheese, and a piano. Sort of.

The book pubs in November from Borealis Books, the imprint of the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Coffee House Press racks up an impressive list of awards

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 22, 2013 - 9:41 AM

Laird Hunt's novel, "Kind One," published last fall by Minneapolis' Coffee House Press, has won a 2013 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Hunt will be honored in September in Cleveland, Ohio, along with the four other winners--Andrew Solomon, for "Far From the Tree"; Kevin Powers for "The Yellow Birds"; Eugenia Gloria for "My Favorite Warlord"; and Wole Solyinka for "The Man Died."

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award was established in 1935 to honor books that make important contributions to understanding racism and diversity.

This is just the latest in a string of impressive awards Coffee House has received. In April, Ben Lerner (author of "Leaving the Atocha Station") and Anne Waldman, who has published many collections of poetry with Coffee House over the years, were both named Guggenheim Fellows.

Lerner's novel was also named runner-up for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

And, as previously reported here, "Kind One" and T. Geronimo Johnson's "Hold it 'Til it Hurts" were both finalists for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award.

Want to know more about these books? Here are the Strib reviews:

"Hold it 'Til it Hurts"

"Kind One"

"Leaving the Atocha Station."


Two Coffee House Press books in running for PEN/Faulkner Award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: March 6, 2013 - 5:40 PM


Judges Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario and A.J. Verdelle sifted through 350 novels and story collections before choosing the five finalists for this year's PEN/Faulkner Award -- and two of the finalists were published by Minneapolis' Coffee House Press. 

Laird Hunt's "Kind One" and T. Geronimo Johnson's "Hold it 'til it Hurts" are up against "Threats," by Amelia Gray; "Watergate," by Thomas Mallon, and "Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club," by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

 In a review for the Star Tribune, book critic Kathryn Lang called Hunt's book "a mesmerizing novel of sin and expiation," comparing Hunt's language to that of novelist Charles Frazier, "Biblically-tinged and spare."

Johnson's novel is a narrative of post-Katrina New Orleans, told by a black veteran of the Gulf War. "Johnson is bringing the news here, rendering beautifully the pleasures (silverware in drawers instead of bins) and pitfalls (guilty liberals at the bar) facing soldiers at home," wrote novelist Matt Burgess in his review for the Star Tribune.

The PEN/Faulkner Award is America's largest peer-juried prize for fiction. The winner will receive $15,000 and the four finalists will each receive $5,000. The winner will be announced on March 19, and all five authors will be honored at a ceremony at the Folger Shakespare Library in May.



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