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Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996.

U of M's Julie Schumacher finalist for Thurber Prize for Humor

Julie Schumacher

Julie Schumacher

Until this year, the winners of the annual Thurber Prize for American Humor have been men: Calvin Trillin. Ian Frazier. Jon Stewart. Christopher Buckley. David Sedaris.

This year, finally, someone realized that women are funny, too; all three finalists for this year's prize are women, including the Minnesota writer Julie Schumacher, who was nominated for her very funny academic satire, "Dear Committee Members."

The two other finalists are Roz Chast, who was a finalist for the National Book Award for her graphic memoir about her parents, "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant," and Annabelle Gurwitch, author of the essay collection, "I See You Made An Effort."

The annual prize was established in 1996 and was named in honor of James Thurber, another extremely funny writer and the author of the comic autobiography, "My Life and Hard Times." Thurber, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, was a writer for the New Yorker and collaborated at times with E.B White. (Read their parody of sexual self-help books, "Is Sex Necessary?" if you want a laugh--after you read the works of these three finalists.)

Schumacher teaches at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of the novel "The Body is Water," a story collection, and several novels for young adults.

Sloane Crosley, one of the Thurber Prize judges (and herself a finalist in 2009), told the Associated Press, "The finalists share more than their gender in common — they are also all above the age of 50. Can we therefore extract from this shortlist the idea that not only are women funny, but that they get funnier as time passes?"

The prize is $5,000 and will be announced on Sept. 28 in New York. 

Marja Mills, Emily St. John Mandel coming to Club Book

Journalist Mitchell Zuckoff, mystery writer Sara Paretsky and Harper Lee biographer Marja Mills are among the nine authors who will take part in the fall series of Club Book. The free writers series takes place at libraries and community centers throughout the metro area, and is paid for through the state Legacy Fund.

Here’s the lineup:

Meg Waite Clayton, author of “The Wednesday Sisters,” 6:30 p.m.. Sept. 17, Chanhassen Public Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen. 

Mitchell Zuckoff, author of “Lost in Shangri-La” and “13 Hours.” 7 p.m.. Sept. 24, R.H. Stafford Library, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury.

Sara Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski mystery series. 7 p.m. Oct. 1, Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley.

Marja Mills, author of “The Mockingbird Next Door.” 7 p.m. Oct. 6, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av. SE., Prior Lake.

Emily St. John Mandel, author of “Station Eleven,” a finalist for the National Book Award. 7 p.m. Oct. 12, Stillwater Public Library, 224 Third St. N., Stillwater.

Ron Rash, author of “Serena.” 7 p.m. Oct. 20, Plymouth Library, 15700 36th Av. N., Plymouth.

Chuck Logan, author of the Phil Broker thriller series. 7 p.m. Oct. 27, Rum River Library, 4201 Sixth Av., Anoka.

Alexs Pate and Tish Jones, contributor and editor of “Blues Vision,” an anthology of African American writing. 7 p.m. Nov.2, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Av. N., Roseville.

Brando Skyhorse, “The Madonnas of Echo Park.” 7 p.m. Nov. 10, Highland Park Community Center, 1978 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul.

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