Because we are Flyover Country, and thus aw-shucks dirt-kicking provincial, we are allowed to claim every author who not only was born here and lived here for a time (or lives here still), but also every author who was educated here, is here on fellowship, or who has summered up the Shore. (This would include Pat Conroy, whose sister lived in Minneapolis for awhile--he'd visit her, and then head up the Shore.)

We draw the line at including writers who have simply spent the night or changed planes at MSP International. We do have some pride.

So in that vein, we should all be bursting with pride at the number of Minnesota authors who have made it to the semi-finals in the annual Goodreads Best Books competition. There are perhaps overly many genres, but we won't argue with that--all the better for highlighting more and more books! (Though the books don't always seem to quite belong with the genre--is Colum McCann's "TransAtlantic" really "historical fiction"? And is Joyce Carol Oates' "The Accursed" really "horror"? Well, maybe.)

It should be no surprise that the busy and prolific Neil Gaiman is a finalist -- in three categories. (Fantasy, middle-grade and picture book.) Fortunately, because he lives in western Wisconsin and flies in and out of the Twin Cities, we get to claim him. 

So. To the list. If you are a member of Goodreads (and it's easy to join, though controversial, since they were acquired by Amazon) you can vote. There are 25 semifinalists in each of 20 categories--a lot of books! Though some, such as Helene Wecker's highly praised "The Golem and the Jinni," are in multiple categories. (Fantasy, and Debut Novel.) (Wecker is a Carleton grad, and, thus, one of us.)

I'm not going to give you all the titles. You can find those yourself on But here are the Minnesota books (or Minnesota-tinged books). More than a million votes have been cast already, so it's quite impressive to make the seminfinals. Be proud!

Fiction: "The Orphan Train," by Christina Baker Kline. (She summers in Minnesota, and the book is partially set here.)

Mystery and thriller: "Ordinary Grace," by William Kent Kruger. (A resident of St. Paul.)

Fantasy: "The Golem and the Jinni," by Helene Wecker, and "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," by Neil Gaiman.

Horror: "The Fate of Mercy Alban," by Duluth writer Wendy Webb, and "Red Moon," by Benjamin Percy, writer-in-residence at St. Olaf College.

Nonfiction: "I Wear the Black Hat," by Chuck Klosterman. (Born here!)

Poetry: "Black Aperture," by Matt Rasmussen. "Incarnadine," by Mary Szybist (published by Minnesota's Graywolf Press). (We'll find out next week about the National Book Award -- both are in the running.)

Middle grade: "Fortunately, the Milk," by Neil Gaiman

Picture book: "Chu's Day," by Neil Gaiman.

Now go do your civic duty, and vote! Voting ends Saturday, and you can vote on the finalists beginning Monday. Good luck.


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