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.

P.S. Duffy's book on shortlist for Dayton Peace Prize

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book awards, Local authors Updated: September 4, 2014 - 10:32 AM

Rochester novelist P.S. Duffy is on the long list for this year's Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction for her debut novel, "The Cartographer of No Man's Land." (Review here.)

The story of a Nova Scotia family during World War I, our critic called it a "beautiful novel about a terrible war."

Others in the running for the prize are: 


Alice McDermott, "Someone." (Strib review here)

Anthony Marra, "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena."

Antonio Munos Molina, "In the Night of Time."

Bob Shacochis, "The Woman Who Lost Her Soul."

Margaret Wrinkle, "Wash."


Jo Roberts, "Contested Land, Contested Memory"

Steve McQuiddy, "Here on Edge: How a Small Group of WWII Conscientious Objectors Took Art and Peace from the Margins to the Mainstream."

Katy Butler, "Knocking on Heaven's Door." (Strib review here)

Jesmyn Ward, "Men We Reaped." (Strib review here)

David Finkel, "Thank You for Your Service." (Strib review here)

Karima Bennoune, "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here."

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is given annually to one work of fiction and one work of nonfiction that promotes peace, justice and understanding. Previous winners include Chang- rae Lee, Marlon James, Adam Johnson, and Adam Hochschild.

The winners will be announced Sept. 24. They will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 9, when Louise Erdrich will also be honored with the 2014 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

The serial is over; long live the serial!

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book news 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 under Author events, Book news, Readings 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.

Johnny Libraryseed

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Libraries Updated: July 28, 2014 - 1:11 PM

Lately, I have taken to driving around with a paper sack full of books in my car--not review books, but old books of mine that have been read and loved but maybe not loved quite enough to keep forever. Over the last few years I've given hundreds of them away---to friends, family, neighbors, Goodwill, to a used-bookstore that puts the value of the books into a fund for teachers so they can come and shop the store for free.

More recently, though, I've been seeding Little Free Libraries.

You know the drill--take a book, leave a book, maybe return a book. My St. Paul neighborhood has these little libraries everywhere; I see them on my dog-walking route and on my way to work, and a couple of weeks ago I noticed one in front of the cafe where I took my mother for lunch. (She scored a David Maraniss book about the 1960 summer Olympics from that one.)

If you're unfamiliar with Little Free Libraries, here's a Strib story from three years ago telling you what they are.

If you're interested in starting a library of your own, here's a nice story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about 10 things to know beforehand.

And if you still want to know more, watch for my story--I think it will run on Saturday--about Eireann Lorsung, the Coffee House Press poet who is in residence at the Little Free Library on East Lake Street in Minneapolis.

For now, here's a little photo collection of the libraries I've been seeding. Try it! Once I started looking for them, I found more than I had ever noticed before. And I got to know the byways and backstreets of my neighborhood much better. (The library above is in the Churchill garden, which is tended by neighbors.)

This was the first LFL I noticed in my neighborhood. It has a solar panel for an interior light, and a park bench in front of it so you can linger.

This is the first one I noticed in our neighborhood, several years ago. It has a solar panel, which powers the interior light, and a park bench across from it so you can browse in comfort.

This one is seasonal. The bicycle was parked there last summer, too, and then disappeared over the winter.

This one is seasonal. The bicycle was parked there last summer, too, and then disappeared over the winter.

This one was built by Girl Scouts.

This one was built by Girl Scouts.

I love the little frog door-handle on this one.

I love the little frog handle on this one.

This one had a very colorful setting.

This one had a very colorful setting.

This one is in front of the Como Park Cafe, formerly the Java Train. So colorful!


I liked the hand prints on this one--presumably of the folks who built it.


This one was stocked with children's books.

There are more--one yard had two libraries, a taller one for adults, and a short one for children.  But you get the idea. Check out your own neighborhood.  See what's out there.  I took one book, a YA book I remembered from years ago when I was a YA.  And after I emptied my sack, I went home and read all afternoon.  And then took the YA book and walked down the street and .... you know what I did.


Long lists, short lists, prizes galore

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book awards, Book news, Local authors, Local publishers Updated: July 23, 2014 - 12:08 PM
Joshua Ferris. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

Joshua Ferris. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

So much prize news this morning that I'm just going to round it all up in one place. We have the Man Booker Prize longlist (with Americans, for the first time!); the Dylan Thomas prize longlist (hello, Coffee House Press!), and the New Rivers Many Voices prizes for both poetry and prose (hello, California and Duluth!).

Worth noting: Joshua Ferris' novel, "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour" is on the longlist for both the Booker Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize.

The Man Booker Prize longlist

This is the first year that the prestigious British literary prize has been opened to any author who writes in English. Previously, the award was restricted to writers of Ireland, UK and its commonwealth. The list includes Northfield, Minn., native Siri Hustvedt. Several of the titles have not yet been released in the United States.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent's Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J,  Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape) 
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O'Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both,  Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury) 

The Man Booker Prize carries an award of 50,000 British pounds (about $85,000). The short list will be announced Sept. 9 and the winner Oct. 14.

The Dylan Thomas Prize

The Dylan Thomas Prize, named for the Welsh poet and administered by Swansea College in Wales, goes to a writer 39 years old or younger. Included on this list is "A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing," winner of the Baileys Award (formerly the Orange Prize) and to be published this fall by Coffee House Press.

Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride

Daniel Alarcón, At Night We Walk in Circles
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
John Donnelly, The Pass
Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing
Meena Kandasamy, The Gypsy Goddess
Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Kseniya Melnik, Snow in May
Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
Nadifa Mohamed, The Orchard of Lost Souls
Owen Sheers, Mametz
Tom Rob Smith, The Farm
Rufi Thorpe, The Girls from Corona del Mar
Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway
Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

Many Voices Project, New Rivers Press

The Many Voices Project of New Rivers Press began in 1981 and seeks to highlight new and emerging writers in poetry and prose.

The prize includes $1,000 and publication. This year's winner in poetry is Julie Gard of Duluth, and the winner in prose is Tracy Robert of southern California. Gard's poetry collection, "Home Studies," and Robert's book, "Flashcards & The Curse of Ambrosia," will be released in October 2015.

And that brings us to...

Minneapolis writer Kate DiCamillo, so recently honored with her second Newbery Award, the Christopher Medal, the Library of Congress National Ambassadorship to Young People's Literature, the AP Anderson Award, and the Guardian Children's Prize longlist, has yet another honor. (We don't know how big her house is but we are thinking she might need an addition for all of these trophies). DiCamillo has been awarded the Voice of the Heartland Award, which honors writers and institutions that value independent bookselling. DiCamillo was the brains and the enthusiasm behind the establishment this year of the first Indies First Storytime Day, a day in which writers and illustrators read books (not their own) to children in local indie bookstores. DiCamillo read to a throng at Chapter2 Books in Hudson, Wis.

She will be presented with the Voice of the Heartland award Sept. 30 at the annual Heartland Fall Forum trade show in Minneapolis.


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