Ever since she took over as publisher of Minneapolis' Graywolf Press in 1994, McCrae has steadily moved the nonprofit press farther onto the world literary stage. Graywolf also went from operating in the red to being financially healthy.
McCrae and her team have a keen eye for outstanding titles and remarkable talent. The awards and accolades seem constant.
This year, Deborah Baker was a finalist for a National Book Award for "The Convert," the biography of a Jewish woman who converts to Islam. "One Day I Will Write About This Place," a memoir by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, was named a top 10 book by Publishers Weekly and a notable book by the New York Times. In 2010, poet D.A. Powell won the Kingsley Tufts Award, and Eula Biss won a National Book Critics Circle Award for "Notes From No Man's Land." And since 2002, Graywolf has published at least two books in translation every year, including novels by Norwegian writer Per Petterson and poetry by the past two recipients of the Nobel Prize for literature, Chinese dissident poet Liu Xiaobo and Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.
But who's looking back? Graywolf is looking forward -- to the publication of "Airmail: The Correspondence of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer," coming next year, and to so much more.
Of the many anecdotes that grew out of Doomtree's unforgettable seven-night Blowout VII marathon at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry in early December -- an achievement that few other acts in Twin Cities music history could have pulled off -- maybe the best came at the end of the week when fans hollered out the chorus to "Get Down."
Mind you, the sold-out crowds -- yep, every night was packed -- knew the words to most of the Hopkins-reared hip-hop collective's tunes. They sang along to them whether they came from recent solo albums by members Dessa and Sims or from the brand-new, all-crew Doomtree record, "No Kings." But "Get Down," led by the group's first breakout star, P.O.S., was different: Fans had heard it only a couple of times earlier in the week. The song still hasn't been released. And it's already a hit. That's the power of Doomtree, circa 2011.
Of the music Doomtree did drop in '11, the breathlessly paced, booming "No Kings" certainly culminated the blowout year. It was local music writers' top-rated album in the year-end Twin Cities Critics Tally, with Sims' wiry sophomore disc, "Bad Time Zoo," coming in second. Both showed off the growing influence of the group's punk-inspired producers/beatmakers. One of them, Cecil Otter (a rapper, too), also had a viral hit with Wugazi, his unlikely, online-only Wu-Tang Clan/Fugazi mash-up project -- a fun fluke amid a year of otherwise hard-earned success.
How richly does Rothstein, founder and artistic director of Theater Latte Da, deserve to be named artist of the year? Let us count the ways:
In January, he directed Ten Thousand Things' production of "Doubt," a taut and small jewel of a play. He was recognized for that work with an Ivey.
In June, he launched a new show, "Steerage Songs" for Theater Latte Da. He and Dan Chouinard built the piece around stories of European immigrants circa 1900.
Also for Latte Da, Rothstein put up a crackling little production of "Spelling Bee" this fall, and sensitively staged "Song of Extinction" last spring.
As if that were not enough, he directed the huge hit "Annie" and the current holiday show "The Wizard of Oz" for Children's Theatre Company. And in September, he made his debut with the Minnesota Opera, staging the popular "Cosi Fan Tutte."
Out of town, he directed "Guys and Dolls" for Fifth Avenue Playhouse in Seattle, a show that toured to the Ordway Center. And as the year ended, his work was evident in the Latte Da/Cantus "All Is Calm" and in Kevin Kling's "Mirth and Mischief."
Well, Peter, take your third honorable mention this decade as incentive: When (not if) you get a show on Broadway, this award is yours.