In the 18 years that the Thurber Prize for American Humor has been around, only men have won. Calvin Trillin, Ian Frazier, Jon Stewart, David Sedaris.

This year, though, all three finalists were women, and the winner, announced Monday night, was St. Paul writer Julie Schumacher, University of Minnesota professor, and author of the very funny book, “Dear ­Committee Members.”

The novel is a series of letters written by a beleaguered professor (definitely not Schumacher) named Jason Fitger, who is tasked with writing letters of recommendation (known as LORs) for students — mediocre students, terrible students, students he barely knows.

“The LOR has become a rampant absurdity,” Jason writes in one letter. “I haven’t published a novel in six years; instead, I fill my departmental hours casting words of praise into the bureaucratic abyss.”

Schumacher is also the author of a novel, “The Body is Water,” a collection of stories, “An Explanation for Chaos,” and five books for young adults.

The other finalists were New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast and actress Annabelle Gurwitch.

Laurie Hertzel

Aguilera connects with her roots

Singer Christina Aguilera has visited Haiti, Rwanda and Guatemala on relief effort trips, but last week in Ecuador she not only offered support to struggling and hungry children — she also connected with her roots. Aguilera’s father is from Ecuador. The trip marked the first time the 34-year-old singer, who was born in New York, had visited the country. “This particular trip was sort of extra-special for me because it is my blood and heritage. My father was born in Ecuador and my grandfather was born in Quito, which is the city I stayed in. And we would drive out in the fields, which were hours away by car and into the farmland and sort of refugee areas where people are struggling,” Aguilera said. She has been a volunteer global spokeswoman for Yum! Brands’ World Hunger Relief since 2009.


rescheduled: Postponed two weeks ago after singer Roger Daltrey was diagnosed with meningitis, the Who’s Oct. 10 Target Center concert has been rescheduled for May 1. Tickets to the original date will be honored, and more seats are on sale ($39.50-$139.50). The make-up date falls on a Sunday night instead of a Saturday and comes about halfway through The Who Hits 50! Tour, which now stretches into the legendary British band’s 52nd year.



debt free: Author Edith Wharton’s historic Massachusetts home is finally debt-free, seven years after defaulting on a loan and nearly shutting its doors. The 1901 Berkshires estate faced foreclosure in 2008 when $8.5 million was owed to lenders. Operators said Monday the estate is out of debt.

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