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

Steven McCarthy wins Minn. Book Artist Award

Steven McCarthy

Steven McCarthy, a professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota, has won the 2017 Minnesota Book Artist Award from the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

McCarthy was selected for his Wee Go Library project, a mobile display built of 22 highly used books selected from Little Free Libraries around the Twin Cities. The Wee Go Library is housed in custom-built oak and pine display cases with felt-lined drawers, each of which hold books that McCarthy has altered by cutting, folding, tearing, or other methods.

Here's what they look like:

Wee Go Library

Wee Go Library

 Members of the award committee praised the Wee Go Library as a “play on books, narratives and libraries,” saying that it “transforms existing text for an experience that is at once random and intentional.” An exhibition celebrating McCarthy’s work will be on display from Jan. 20-March 26 at the Cowles Literary Commons in the Open Book building, 1011 Washington Av. S., with a reception at 5:30 p.m.Feb. 10 McCarthy will be honored at the annual Minnesota Book Awards gala celebration on April 8 in St. Paul.

Graywolf Press's "Grief is the Thing With Feathers" a finalist for John Leonard Prize

Max Porter's novel "Grief is the Thing With Feathers" a finalist for John Leonard Prize

Max Porter's novel "Grief is the Thing With Feathers" a finalist for John Leonard Prize

The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award--which goes to the best debut book in any genre--have been announced, and Minneapolis publisher Graywolf Press has a book in the running. All six finalists are novels. 

"Grief is the Thing With Feathers," by Max Porter, a novel in dialogue about grief and healing, was published in June by Graywolf.

Nathan Hill, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul (but is currently on leave), is also a finalist for his novel, "The Nix."

Here is the full list, with links to Star Tribune reviews.

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 
The Girls, by Emma Cline (Random House) 
Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright) 
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf) 
The Nix, by Nathan Hill (Knopf) 
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter (Graywolf) 

The list of six finalists was winnowed down from 136 nominees.

The winner will be announced in March 2017 at the annual National Book Critics Circle award ceremony in New York City.

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