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.
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.
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.
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.
The names of the judges for this year's National Book Awards were announced this morning, and included in the stellar group are Minnesota writer Charles Baxter and Graywolf Press poet D.A. Powell.
Baxter, author of "The Feast of Love," a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award, is the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota. His most recent book is "Gryphon," a collection of short stories.
He will be joined as fiction judge with novelist Gish Jen ("Typical American"), Rene Steinke, a 2005 National Book Award Finalist for "Holy Skirts," and -- for the first time in many years -- two people who are not authors, Charles McGrath, fromer editor of the New York Times Book Review, and Rick Simonson, a bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.
Judges for nonfiction are Jabari Asim, Andre Bernard, M.G. Lord, Lauren Redniss, and Eric Sundquist.
Poetry judges are Nikky Finney, author of "Head Off & Split," which won the 2011 National Book Award; Ada Limon, Graywolf Press poet D.A. Powell, who won a 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for "Useless Landscape: Or, A Guide for Boys"; Jahan Ramazani, and Craig Morgan Teicher, author of "Cradle Book."
Young people's literature will be judged by Deb Caletti, Cecil Castellucci, Peter Glassman, E. Lockhart, and Lisa Von Drasekis.
The awards will be announced in New York City on Nov. 20.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters issued its annual honors and awards today, and there are so many familiar names on the list--Katherine Boo. (Is there nothing she hasn't won?) Kevin Powers, for "The Yellow Birds." Short story writer Lydia Davis. Graywolf Press poet D.A. Powell (ditto him).
And Macalester visiting instructor Peter Bognanni, author of "House of Tomorrow," (a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and winner of the Los Angeles Times First Novel Award and an ALA Alex Award), has won one of two Rome Prize fellowships.
The Rome Prize is a one-year residency at the American Academy in Rome. Bognanni is a native of Iowa and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
And here's the full list of the American Academy awards:
Arts and Letters Awards in Literature: Katherine Boo, Joanna Klink, Neil LaBute, Bill McKibben, Bruce Norris, Darryl Pinckney, D.A. Powell, and Brad Watson.
Benjamin H. Danks award, $20,000 for an exceptional playwright: Amy Herzog.
E.M. Forster Award, $20,000 to a young writer from the U.K. or Ireland to stay in the U.S.: Adam Foulds.
Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction: Kevin Powers.
Award of Merit Medal: $10,00 for outstanding short story writing: Lydia Davis.
Addison M. Metcalf Award, $10,000 for a young writer: Mischa Berlinski.
Rome Fellowships: Peter Bognanni and Peter Streckfus
Rosenthal Family Foundation award, $10,000 to a young writer for work published in 2012: Claire Vaye Watkins.
John Updike Aard, $20,000 for mid-career writer of excellence: Jennifer Egan.
Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award, $10,000: Christopher Benfey
E.B. White Award, $10,000 for children's literature: Natalie Babbitt.
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