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 Graywolf Press

Erdrich novel, Graywolf memoir are finalists for Dayton prize

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: August 20, 2013 - 10:53 AM


The shortlist for the annual Dayton Literary Peace Prize was announced today, studded with fine titles about life in North Korea, Ceausecu's Romania, American Indian reservations, and the Vietnam War.


The formidable fiction shortlist includes National Book Award-winning "The Round House," Pulitzer-winning "The Orphan Master's Son," and a couple of dark horses.

The nonfiction shortlist also includes a National Book Award winner, Katherine Boo's "Behind the Beautiful Forevers," as well as a Graywolf Press memoir, "Burying the Typewriter," by Carmen Bugan about growing up in Romania.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize was inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. Winners will receive $10,000 and runners-up will receive $1,000. Winners will be announced Sept. 24.

Here's the whole list, with hyperlinks to our reviews.


"The Round House," by Louise Erdrich

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," by Ben Fountain

"The Orphan Master's Son," by Adam Johnson

"The Life of Objects," by Susanna Moore

"The Coldest Night," by Robert Olmstead

"The Yellow Birds," by Kevin Powers




"Behind the Beautiful Forevers," by Katherine Boo

"Pax Ethnica," by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac

"Burying the Typewriter," by Carmen Bugan

"Escape from Camp 14," by Blaine Harden

"Devil in the Grove," by Gilbert King

"Far From the Tree," by Andrew Solomon.




Graywolf Press book wins PEN award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: August 14, 2013 - 10:33 AM


Kevin Young.

Kevin Young.

The PEN awards were announced today, and Graywolf Press finds itself among the many winners. "The Grey Album," by Kevin Young, took one of two $5,000 Open Book Awards, which go to exceptional book-length works of literature by an author of color. (The other award went to Gina Apostol for "Gun Dealer's Daughter.")

 You can read the Strib review of "The Grey Album" here.

And Monika Bauerlein, former writer and editor at City Pages in Minneapolis, won the Nora Magid award for excellence along with Clara Jeffery, her co-editor at Mother Jones.

Here's a list of the winners:

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000) to an author whose debut work of fiction suggests distinguished achievement: Sergio De La Pava, for "A Naked Singularity." 

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Awzrd for Nonfiction ($10,000): Katherine Boo, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers."

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): Robert Hass, "What Light Can Do."

PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): Leonard Mlodinow, "Subliminal."
PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for an American Playwright in Mid-Career ($7,500): Kirsten Greenidge, and for a Master American Dramatist ($7,500), Larry Kramer.
PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): Frank Deford.
PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing: Mark Kram, Jr., "Like Any Normal Day."
PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): "Gun Dealers' Daughter," Gina Apostol, and "The Grey Album," Kevin Young. 
PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000) Tom Reiss, "The Black Count."
Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein

Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein

PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000): Rowan Ricardo Phillips
PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000) Amy Goldman Koss, "The Intake Office"
PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000), Michelle Markel, "The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau"
PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000) Molly Weigel, "The Shock of the Lenders and Other Poems," by Jorge Santiago Perednik
PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): Donald O. White, "The Island of Second Sight," by Albert Bigoleis Thelen
PEN/Nora Magid Award ($2,500), to a magazine editor whose high literary taste has, throughtout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication: Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, co-editors of Mother Jones.


Good Thunder reading series to host Tracy Kidder, Jesmyn Ward, Tracy K. Smith

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 24, 2013 - 9:33 AM


Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder

A drive to Mankato is nothing if it means you'll find riches at the end. And the 32nd season of the Mankato State University Good Thunder Reading Series sees a wealth of writers coming through town to teach and speak.

Pulitzer Prize winners Tracy Kidder (nonfiction), Tracy K. Smith (poetry) and Jesmyn Ward (fiction) will bookend the series, which will also see poets Alex Lemon, Matt Rasmussen and Tracy K Smith, as well as a host of other writers both national and regional.

All events are open to the public and will be held in the Centennial Student Union at MSU. Most of the writers will also be interviewed for radio programs, which will be aired on KMSU-FM 89.7 as part of the Authors in Transit series.

Here's the whole schedule. Now go gas up your car.

Sept. 12: Tracy Kidder. Author of "Soul of a New Machine" (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), "Mountains Beyond Mountains," and other works of nonfiction.

Oct 3-4: Swati Avasthi, young-adult fiction, and Rachael Hanel, memoir.

Oct. 24: Alicia Catt, creative nonfiction, and Alan Davis, fiction.

Nov. 14-15: Angela Duryee, creative nonfiction, and Luis Alberto Urrea, fiction and nonfiction.

Jan. 30: Sarah McKinstry-Brown and Christopher Howell, poetry.


Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward

Feb. 18-21: Pete Hautman, young adult fiction, and Alex Lemon, poetry and creative nonfiction.


March 20: Matt Rasmussen and Tracy K. Smith, poetry. Rasmussen won the 2012 Walt Whitman Award, and Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for "Life on Mars," published by Graywolf Press.

April 10: Jesmyn Ward, fiction (and winner of the Pultizer Prize for "Salvage the Bones"), and Niky Finney, poetry.

April 24: Candace Black, poetry and creative nonfiction, and Roger Sheffer, fiction.



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.


Robert Bly reads to a packed house

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 3, 2013 - 6:24 AM


Robert Bly at the American Swedish Institute, launching "Airmail." Star Tribune photo by Jerry Holt.

Robert Bly at the American Swedish Institute, launching "Airmail." Star Tribune photo by Jerry Holt.


It was only at the very end of the evening, when Robert Bly read a poem by his longtime friend Tomas Tranströmer, that he grew animated, his voice dipping and swaying, gaining in power. He crisply enunciated the words, added that famous little Bly twist, and looked straight out at the crowd.

Up until then, he had been a bit subdued, reading aloud softly from his new book, "Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer," not looking up. He launched the book Tuesday evening at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, reading aloud some of the letters he had written to Tranströmer in the 1960s and 70s and 80s. Roland Thorstensson of Gustavus Adolphus College read the Tranströmer replies.
The room was packed, 300 people there to listen to three dignified and serious men on stage--Bly, Thorstensson, and poet Thomas R. Smith, who spent ten years editing the collection, which was published this month by Minneapolis’ Graywolf Press.
Do not think he spent the full decade on the book, Smith told the crowd in his opening remarks. “The manuscript languished half-finished in a drawer until October 2011, when Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize for literature--after which I worked on it furiously.”
Jeff Shotts, Graywolf Press’s executive editor, called Smith a “tireless, passionate poet and editor,” noting that in the course of his research Smith had discovered among the letters a Tranströmer poem that had never been published.
“I can’t tell you what a remarkable moment that was,” Shotts said.
Thomas R. Smith and Robert Bly sign books after Tuesday's reading.

Thomas R. Smith and Robert Bly sign books after Tuesday's reading.

Later in the evening Bly and Thorstensson read that poem, “Conflict,” Bly reading it in English, Thorstensson in Swedish.
But the night really belonged to Bly, 86, a man whose “contributions to global literature cannot be exaggerated,” Shotts said.
His famous mane of white hair is shorter, and he was a little shaky mounting the steps to the stage, but his voice remains sweet and nasal and—especially when he read poetry—strong and true.
The letters, sometimes teasing, sometimes serious, always affectionate, reflect the close friendship between the two poets. They touched on life in the country (both in Minnesota and in Sweden), the Vietnam war, Lyndon Johnson, and their own work. Getting published in Bly’s magazine, The Sixties, Transtromer wrote, is “fully comparable to arriving in Valhalla and drinking beer with the heroes.”
At the end of the evening, Shotts read one last letter—a note written Monday by Tranströmer and sent, this time, by e-mail rather than airmail.
“Robert, we both have reached that time in life when we must avoid the really long trips,” Tranströmer wrote. “That’s why I am not right now by your side as our letters are opened in Minneapolis for everyone to read. But, as always, I await a spirited letter from you about this evening.”
He ended with a postscript, congratulating Bly on receiving the Robert Frost Medal, the highest award from the Poetry Society of America. Bly and his wife, Ruth, will travel to New York later this week for the ceremony.
And as Bly sat quietly in his chair on the stage, the 300 people in the room rose to their feet, and applauded.


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