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

Minn. writer Louise Erdrich visibly moved by critics award for fiction

Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich was visibly moved Thursday night when her name was announced as the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction on Thursday night for her novel, “LaRose,” the final book in her justice trilogy. She last won the award in 1984, for "Love Medicine."

"Miigwetch," she told the crowd, thanking them in the Ojibwe language. "I am among such dramatically wonderful novels that this didn't seem possible." Erdrich was up against Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon, Adam Haslett and Zadie Smith for the award. "I'd like to thank my mother, a strong Native woman," Erdrich said. "And my 91-year-old father, the son of immigrants. We are all in this together. It is so important right now, as truth is being assaulted not just in this country, but all over the world. Let us dig into the truth. Let us be fierce and dangerous about the truth. Let us find in that truth the strength to demand that truth from our government."

Minnesota native Hope Jahren, now living in Norway, won in the autobiography category for her memoir, “Lab Girl," but the blizzard that hit New York on Tuesday prevented her from picking up her award in person.

Erdrich and Jahren were among  eight writers honored at a ceremony and reception held at the New School in New York City. Other winners include Ishion Hutchinson in poetry for “House of Lords and Commons”; Carol Anderson in criticism for “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide”; Ruth Franklin in biography for “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life”; and Matthew Desmond in nonfiction for “Evicted.”

Previously announced winners were Margaret Atwood, winner of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and Yaa Gyasi, winner of the John Leonard Prize for best debut book in any genre.

Atwood charmed the crowd with her brief but fervent acceptance speech. "I am very, very happy to be here," she said. "Because they let me across the border!" 

A lifetime achievement award, she said, is a two-edged sword. "Why do I only get one lifetime? Where did this lifetime go?"

The National Book Critics Circle Awards are judged by the NBCC board, a group of 24 professional book critics. 

Heid E. Erdrich, Brian Farrey among winners of McKnight Artist Fellowships

Heid Erdrich. Star Tribune file photo

Heid E. Erdrich. Star Tribune file photo

Four writers of creative prose and one children's author have won this year's McKnight Artist Fellowship.The annual prize goes to five writers, with categories alternating between poetry, creative prose, and writing for children. Recipients--who each receive $25,000--must have published at least one book or a significant number of publications in literary magazines. 

This year's creative prose winners are:

Heid E. Erdrich, poet, memoirist, essayist. Author of "Original Local," a memoir in food and recipes, as well as five collections of poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at Augsburg College.

Erin Kate Ryan, whose short stories have appeared in many journals, including Glimmer Train, Booth and others.

Taiyon J Coleman, poet, essayist and fiction writer. She is a Cave Canem fellow and her writing has appeared in "Riding Shotgun," "The Ringing Ear," (edited by Nikky Finney) "Blues Visions," and other places. She teaches at St. Catherine University.

Susan Follett, auhor of "The Fog Machine," published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. She lives in Rosemount, Minn.

And the winner in children's literature for children older than 8 is:

Brian Farrey, whose novel "With or Without You" was named a Stonewall honor book by the American Library Association and also won a Minnesota Book Award.

Honorable mentions in creative prose went to: Rebecca Kanner, Lori Saroya, Tami Mohamed Brown and Juliet Patterson. In children's literature the honorable mentions were Elizabeth Karre, Alison Behnke, Megan Atwood and Jane O'Reilly.

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