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.

"Braiding Sweetgrass" wins Sigurd Olson nature writing award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book awards, Book news, Milkweed Editions Updated: May 7, 2014 - 10:49 AM

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer's book, "Braiding Sweetgrass," published by Milkweed Editions of Minneapolis, is the winner of the 2014 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, given by Northland College in Ashland, Wis.

Kimmerer, who lives in Fabius, N.Y., is a professor environmental biology and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She will receive a $1,000 parize and will visit Northland College in the fall for a reading an the awards ceremony.

"Braiding Sweetgrass" is about the interdependence of people and the natural world, primarily the plant world. "The gift of Kimmerer’s book is that she provides readers the ability to see a very common world in uncommon ways, or, rather, in ways that have been commonly held but have recently been largely discarded," the Star Tribune review notes.

The Sigurd F. Olson award was established in 1991 to recognize remarkable literature that promotes Olson's values and captures the spirit of the relationship of humans in the natural world.

PEN Literary Awards longlist announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book awards, Book news Updated: May 7, 2014 - 12:11 PM

The long list for the PEN Literary Awards is out--more than 80 titles, selected by 50 judges. The shortlist will be announced June 17, and the 18 award winners will be announced on July 30. The awards ceremony will be September 29. Here's the big long fabulous 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.

Judges: Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard


A History of the Present Illness (Bloomsbury), Louise Aronson
Middle Men (Simon & Schuster), Jim Gavin
Bogotá (TriQuarterly Books), Alan Grostephan
The Morels (Soho Press Inc.), Christopher Hacker
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
We All Sleep In the Same Room (Rare Bird Books, A Barnacle Book), Paul Rome
Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
Godforsaken Idaho (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 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.

Judges: Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed


Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II (New York Review Books), Martin Filler
The Kraus Project (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Jonathan Franzen
Stories We Tell Ourselves (University of Iowa Press), Michelle Herman
The Blind Masseuse (University of Wisconsin Press), Alden Jones
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.

Judges: Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack


Frankenstein’s Cat (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Emily Anthes
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
Gulp (W.W. Norton & Company), Mary Roach
Weird Life (W.W. Norton & Company), David Toomey
What the Dog Knows (Touchstone), Cat Warren
Paleofantasy (W.W. Norton & Company), Marlene Zuk

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

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn


Southern Cross the Dog (Ecco), Bill Cheng
Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
The Cineaste (W.W. Norton & Company), A. Van Jordan
domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
A Tale for the Time Being (Viking Adult), Ruth Ozeki
Visiting Hours at the Color Line (Milkweed Editions), Ed Pavlić
Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi

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

Judges: James Atlas, Lisa Cohen, and Wendy Gimbel


Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
Wilson (Putnam), A. Scott Berg
Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns (Other Press), David Margolick
Margaret Fuller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
Roth Unbound (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Claudia Roth Pierpont
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.

Judges: Joel Drucker, Chad Harbach, and Jackie MacMullan


Mickey and Willie (Crown Archetype), Allen Barra
Monsters (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Rich Cohen
Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
The Sports Gene (Current), David Epstein
League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mike Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
The Emerald Mile (Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
Francona (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Terry Francona & Dan Shaughnessy
Their Life’s Work (Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz
Game Over (The New Press), Dave Zirin

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.

Judges: Mac Barnett, Ted Lewin, and Elizabeth Winthrop


Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
Tea Party Rules (Viking), Ame Dyckman
Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo (Wordsong), Nancy Bo Flood
Look Up! Bird-Watching In Your Own Backyard (Candlewick Press), Annette LeBlanc Cate
The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
Crabtree (McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols
Bugs In My Hair! (The Blue Sky Press), David Shannon
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? (Henry Holt and Company), Tanya Lee Stone

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

Judge: Kimiko Hahn


Black Stars: Poems by Ngo Tu Lap (Milkweed Editions), Martha Collins & Ngo Tu Lap
Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
fungus skull eye wing by Alfonso D’Aquino (Copper Canyon Press), Forrest Gander
Impromptus by Gottfried Benn (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Michael Hofmann
Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
The Colonies by Tomasz Różycki (Zephyr Press), Mira Rosenthal
I Can Almost See the Clouds of Dust by Yu Xiang (Zephyr Press), Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Paul Klee’s Boat (In the Grip of Strange Thoughts) 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.

Judges: Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver


Shantytown by César Aira (New Directions), Chris Andrews
Twists and Turns in the Heart’s Antarctic by Hélène Cixous (Polity), Beverley Bie Brahic
An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
The Infatuations by Javier Marías (Knopf), Margaret Jull Costa
Transit by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach (Princeton University Press), Shelley Frisch
The Dinner by Herman Koch (Hogarth), Sam Garrett
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


(The following PEN Awards do not have longlists but are listed below to announce the participation of those authors who are judging the awards. The winners will be announced on July 30th along with all of the winners for the book awards.)

PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000): To a distinguished living American author of fiction.

Judges: E.L. Doctorow, Edwidge Danticat, and Zadie Smith

PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Founded by Barbara Kingsolver ($25,000): To an author of an unpublished novel that addresses issues of social justice. The prize also includes a publishing contract with Algonquin Books.

Judges: Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, Kathy Pories

PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000): To a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.

Judges: Peg Boyers, Toi Derricotte, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips

PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 and $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright. This is the inaugural year of the Award for an Emerging American Playwright.

Judges: John Lithgow, Elizabeth Streb, and Maria Tucci

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): To an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, to complete a book-length work-in-progress.

Judges: Kathi Appelt, Johanna Hurwitz, and Padma Venkatraman

PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

Judges: Kostya Kennedy, David Rosenthal, and John Schulian

PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): To a living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English.

Judges: Idra Novey, Yvette Siegert, and Mark Statman

PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants ($2,000-$4,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English.

Judges: The PEN/Heim Translation Fund Advisory

William Kent Krueger wins Edgar Award

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book awards, Book news, Local authors Updated: May 2, 2014 - 7:08 AM
William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger

St. Paul writer William Kent Krueger has won his first Edgar Award for best novel for "Ordinary Grace"--not one of his Cork O'Connor series, but an evocative mystery set in the 1960s in southwestern Minnesota.

Here's the Strib review.

The Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America, was presented Thursday night in New York City.

Krueger will speak at 10:30 a.m. May 20 at the Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center. Free and open to the public.

Here is the full list of last night's winners:

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books) 
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Simon & Schuster - Scribner) 
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (Penguin Group USA - Penguin Books) 
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War 
by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books) 
America is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture 
by Erik Dussere (Oxford University Press) 
"The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository” – Bibliomysteries 
by John Connolly (Mysterious Bookshop)  2 
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR) 
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown Books for Young 
“Episode 1” – The Fall, Teleplay by Allan Cubitt (Netflix) 
"The Wentworth Letter" – Criminal Element’s Malfeasance Occasional 
By Jeff Soloway (St. Martin’s Press) 
Robert Crais 
Carolyn Hart 
Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Michigan 
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 30, 2014) 
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books) 

Minneapolis poet wins Lindquist & Vennum Prize

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book awards, Book news, Poetry Updated: April 29, 2014 - 10:56 AM

Michael BazzettMichael Bazzett, a Minneapolis poet, has won the third annual Lindquist & Vennum Prize from Milkweed Editions for his manuscript, “You Must Remember This.” The prize, which includes $10,000 and publication, is one of the top poetry prizes in the country.

Bazzett is a graduate of Carleton College and teaches at the Blake School; his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Pleiades and the Best New Poets series. This year’s competition drew more than 150 submissions and was judged by poet and critic Kevin Prufer, who called Bazzett’s manuscript, “frightening, hilarious, and dark.” 

"The big hinge for me was receiving a sabbatical from Blake, for the 2007-2008 school year," Bazzett said in a statement to Milkweed. "I will always be grateful for that year: I essentially read & wrote full-time, for a year. It was the first time writing had been at the center of my life. ... I moved with my family to San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico, where we could live very well on half-salary, and I just started delving in. In the spring of 2008 I had a pile of poems and other half-finished projects, and I started sending work around in earnest; I won the Bechtel Prize that year and Mark Strand picked one of my poems for Best New Poets 2008."

Milkweed will publish his prize-winning manuscript in November.

Bazzett is the second Minnesota poet in three years to win the prize; Patricia Kirkpatrick of St. Paul won the inaugural award in 2012. Last year’s award was won by Rebecca Dunham of Milwaukee.

Hats off to Kristal Leebrick

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Book stores, Competitions, Garrison Keillor, Poetry Updated: April 28, 2014 - 12:33 PM

Kristal LeebrickKristal Leebrick's prize-winning love poem has it all: winter, North Dakota, young love, first love, the northern lights, sentimentality, and the wise perspective of later years. It's evocative without being sweet, nostalgic without being mawkish, and it attracted the admiration of the three fine judges of Common Good Books' second annual Love Poems competition, who awarded it first prize.

Leebrick lives in St. Paul, edits a monthly newspaper, and is the author of "Dayton's: A Twin Cities Institution."

The four runners up in the competition are:

Edwin Romond of Wind Gap, Penn.

Kathleen Novak of Minneapolis

Ann Harrington of St. Paul

and Chet Corey of Bloomington.

Judges were Garrison Keillor, Patricia Hampl and Tom Hennen; Leebrick wins $1,000 and the four runners-up each with $250. May they spend it on fine pens, thick journals, and lots of books!

Here is the winning poem:

New Year Love

I remember our breath

in the ciy air

and how the northern lights gathered

in a haze at the horizon,

spread up past the water tower

then vanished into the dark.

I remember that January night in North Dakota:

We left the dance,

the hoods of our dads' air force parkas zipped tight,

our bare hands pulled into the coat sleeves.

We ran

into the wind

down the drifting sidewalks of our eight-grade lives

to the brick-and-clapboard row houses on Spruce Street.

We ducked between buildings

and you pulled me close.

A flickering light from someone's TV screen.

A kitchen window.

Your fingers tracing my face.

Your hair brushing my eyes.

Your skin, your lips.

My legs.

My heart.

I remember that January night in North Dakota,

but I can't remember you rname.

---Kristal Leebrick.

Garrison Keillor interviews Kristal Leebrick on Sunday.


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