The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 27th annual Minnesota Book Awards, presented by 3M Library Systems. In addition to winners in eight categories, The Friends presented the Kay Sexton and Book Artist Awards to previously announced honorees, respectively Mary François Rockcastle and Harriet Bart, with Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne. The annual Minnesota Book Awards program is a project of The Friends, in consortium with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul.
More than 800 people attended a gala award ceremony at Saint Paul’s Union Depot on Saturday, April 18, emceed by Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio arts reporter and one of the Cube Critics on All Things Considered. Announced at the gala, the winners of the 2015 Minnesota Book Awards are:
Award for Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:
Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen – Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold – published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Discover winter’s safe places for the hardy animals of the north—how they snuggle warmly and survive until spring’s warmth returns. Sidman is the Newbery Honor-winning author of children’s books, including Red Sings from the Treetops, winner of the 2010 Minnesota Book Award for Children’s Literature. Allen produces illustrations and printed work at The Kenspeckle Letterpress in Duluth.
Award for General Nonfiction, sponsored by Minnesota AFL-CIO:
Nancy Koester – Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life – published by William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
In this biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Koester traces her faith pilgrimage from evangelical Calvinism through spiritualism to Anglican spirituality in a compelling narrative. In addition to her writing, Koester is an ordained Lutheran minister and spiritual director.
Award for Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
Julie Klassen – The Secret of Pembrooke Park – published by Bethany House Publishers
Facing financial ruin and suffering a romantic disappointment, Abigail Foster is astounded when she and her father receive a strange and mysterious offer – the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. Klassen is the author of eight novels, including three winners of the Christy Award for Historical Romance.
Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual:
Kaethe Schwehn – Tailings: A Memoir – published by Cascade Books/Wipf and Stock Publishers
In August of 2001, in search of her own personal Eden, Schwehn came to Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center nestled in the Cascade Mountains. What seemed at first like a utopian ideal faded over the months and she was left with 354 inches of snow, a prowling cougar, sixty-five disgruntled villagers, and a pile of copper mine tailings 150 feet high. Schwehn is the co-editor of Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts. She teaches at St. Olaf College.
Award for Minnesota, sponsored by St. Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Lori Sturdevant – Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement– published by Minnesota Historical Society Press*
At thirty-eight years of age, Rosalie Wahl, a married mother of four, began classes at the William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul. Sturdevant describes how, despite personal struggle, Wahl completed law school and in 1977, became Minnesota’s first female Supreme Court Justice. Sturdevant is a columnist for the Star Tribune and has written a number of books on Minnesota history.
Award for Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Education Minnesota:
Marlon James – A Brief History of Seven Killings – published by Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House
Described by The New York Times as “sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex,” James’ novel uses the 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley as a springboard to explore Jamaican society and culture. James is the author of John Crow’s Devil and The Book of Night Women, winner of a previous Minnesota Book Award.
Award for Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
Sean Hill – Dangerous Goods – published by Milkweed Editions*
From the Bahamas, London, and Cairo, to Bemidji, Minnesota, and Milledgeville, Georgia, Hill explores the relationship between travel, migration, alienation and home in this poignant and elegant collection. Sean Hill, who was born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia, is also the author of Blood Ties & Brown Liquor.
Award for Young People’s Literature, sponsored by The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University:
Margi Preus – West of the Moon– published by Amulet Books/Abrams
Astri makes a daring escape from a mean goat farmer, retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, the two set off for America. Preus is the Newbery Honor Award-winning author of five books for young readers.
At the Book Awards gala on April 18, Mary François Rockcastle received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award, for her longstanding contributions to Minnesota’s literary community. Through her unique and unparalleled activities as Director of The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University, Mary François Rockcastle has devoted herself to the education of writers in Minnesota for more than 20 years. She and her colleagues worked together to develop and launch the MFA in Creative Writing program at Hamline in 1994—the first of its kind in Minnesota—and Rockcastle has gone on to expand and continuously improve the university’s creative writing offerings which now include the acclaimed low-residency MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, as well as the BFA in Creative Writing. The Award is sponsored by Common Good Books.
Also presented was the eighth annual Book Artist Award to Harriet Bart and her longtime collaborative partners, Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne, for a new piece entitled Ghost Maps. The award, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group and presented with the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), recognizes book artists for excellence of a new artistic work and demonstrated proficiency and quality in the book arts, as well as an ongoing commitment and significant contributions to Minnesota’s book arts community. Part of a longstanding collaborative relationship between artist, printer and binder, Ghost Maps was printed by Philip Gallo at The Hermetic Press in Minneapolis and binding was designed and executed by Jill Jevne of Jacobson, Minnesota. Since 2000, Bart, Gallo and Jevne have collaborated to produce ten artist books, two of which have been honored with Minnesota Book Awards in the Fine Press category.
Books written by a Minnesotan and first published in 2014 were eligible for the 27th annual Minnesota Book Awards. 250 books were nominated for awards this year, and 32 books were selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by panels of judges from around the state. Nominations for next year’s Awards will open in August, 2015. For more information on the Book Awards process, and a complete list of finalists and winners since 1988, visit www.thefriends.org/mnba.
The Book Awards gala will be broadcast in the weeks to come on Saint Paul Neighborhood Network and TPT-MN Channel. Watch the website for updates on air dates.
The 27th annual Minnesota Book Awards is a project of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul. Major funding for the Book Awards was provided by 3M Library Systems; the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts; the Huss Foundation; the Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation; the McKnight Foundation; Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR; Books for Africa; Alerus Financial; Common Good Books; The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University; Education Minnesota; Lerner Publishing Group; Macalester College; Minnesota AFL-CIO; Northwestern Mutual; Overdrive; St. Mary’s University of Minnesota; and Wellington Management, Inc.
Statewide outreach partners include: the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators (CRPLSA); the Loft Literary Center; Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA); Media sponsors include: Minnesota Public Radio, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), the Star Tribune, and TPT-Minnesota Channel.
*indicates a Minnesota-based publisher