Winners of the 26th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Announced

Minnesota Book Awards The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 26th annual Minnesota Book Awards, presented by 3M Library Systems. In addition to winners in eight categories, the Book Awards presented the Kay Sexton, Book Artist, and Hognander Minnesota History Awards to previously announced honorees, respectively Mark Vinz, Fred Hagstrom, and Gwen Westerman and Bruce White. 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.

A record-breaking 960 people attended a gala award ceremony on Saturday, April 5, emceed by John Moe, author and Minnesota Public Radio host of “Wits.” Announced at the gala, the winners of the 2014 Minnesota Book Awards are:

Award for Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa: David LaRochelle and Mike WohnoutkaMoo!– published by Walker Books for Young Readers/Bloomsbury Children’s Books
When Cow gets her hooves on the farmer’s car, she takes it for a wild ride. Using just one word (well, maybe two), this book will have readers laughing one moment and on the edge of their seats the next. LaRochelle is a previous Minnesota Book Award winner and lives in White Bear Lake. Wohnoutka has illustrated books for Random House, Dutton Children’s Books, and more – this is his first Book Award.

Award for General Nonfiction, sponsored by Minnesota AFL-CIO: Jack El-HaiThe Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII – published by PublicAffairs Books/Perseus Books Group.
El-Hai uncovers the remarkable relationship between army psychiatrist Captain Douglas M. Kelley and the elite of the captured Nazi regime, particularly Hermann Göring. El-Hai is the MN Book Award winning author of The Lobotomist.

Award for Genre Fiction, sponsored by Alerus Financial: William Kent KruegerTamarack County – published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster.
While investigating a woman’s disappearance, Cork O’Connor and his family are pulled into a deadly series of events which may have a connection to a murder more than twenty years old – a case where Cork was the deputy in charge. Krueger is the author of twelve previous Cork O’Connor mysteries and this is his fifth Minnesota Book Award.

Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by GovDelivery: Melanie HoffertPrairie Silence – published by Beacon Press.
Stories about returning home and exploring abandoned towns are woven into a coming-of-age tale about falling in love, making peace with faith, and belonging to a place where neighbors are as close as blood but are often unable to share their deepest truths. Hoffert holds an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University.

Award for Minnesota, sponsored by MSR Architects: Kristin MakholmModern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison – published by University of Oklahoma Press.
This stunning book, co-written with W. Jackson Rushing, III, showcases Chippewa artist Morrison’s work while also exploring the artist’s identity as a modernist within the broader context of twentieth-century American and Native American art. Makholm is Executive Director of the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

Award for Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Education Minnesota: Ethan RutherfordThe Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories – published by Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers
The strange, imaginative, and refreshingly original stories in Rutherford’s debut collection explore the ways in which we experience the world: as it is, could be, and all that lies between. Rutherford‘s fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, and The Best American Short Stories.

Award for Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.: Matt RasmussenBlack Aperture – published by Louisiana State University Press
In his moving debut collection, a finalist for the National Book Award, Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. Rasmussen is a founding coeditor of Birds LLC, a small independent poetry press, and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Award for Young People’s Literature, sponsored by Sit Investment Associates: Carrie MesrobianSex & Violence – published by Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group*
After an assault that leaves seventeen-year-old Evan scarred inside and out, he and his father retreat to the family cabin in rural Minnesota—which may offer him his best shot at making sense of his life again. Mesrobian teaches at the Loft Literary Center. This is her first book.

At the Book Awards gala on April 5, Mark Vinz received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award, for his lifelong contributions to Minnesota’s literary community. One of the finest, most respected figures in the state’s literary history, Vinz served as a professor of English at Minnesota State University Moorhead for forty years where he mentored countless emerging writers and left a lasting mark on the literary culture at MSU. During his years there, he directed the MFA Program in Creative Writing and co-directed the Tom McGrath Visiting Writers Series from 1986 to 2006. The Award is sponsored by Common Good Books.

Also presented was the seventh annual Book Artist Award, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group and Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). The award, presented to Fred Hagstrom – a distinguished professor of art at Carleton College since 1984 – recognizes the book artist 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. His award-winning piece, Passage, examines the historic tragedy of the slave trade using archival photographs of former slaves combined with hand-drawn diagrams depicting the inhumane conditions aboard slave ships. These images are paired with selected texts from two historical books that were important for building opposition to the slave trade: An Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade by Thomas Clarkson, 1788, and Biographical Sketches and Interesting Anecdotes of Persons of Color by A. Mott, 1837.
Hagstrom’s work is currently being shown at St. Paul’s Central Library, 90 W. 4th St., through April, and will be exhibited at other library locations statewide during the year.

Finally, Gwen Westerman and Bruce White were awarded the biennial Hognander Minnesota History Award for Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota – published by Minnesota Historical Society Press. This award, supported by the Hognander Family Foundation, recognizes and celebrates the most outstanding scholarly work published in 2012 or 2013 on a topic of Minnesota history. Westerman is professor of English and Humanities at Minnesota State University in Mankato. White is author of We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People.

Books written by a Minnesotan and first published in 2013 were eligible for the 26th annual Minnesota Book Awards. 242 books were nominated for awards this year, and 32 books were selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by panels of judges from the list of finalists. Nominations for next year’s Awards will open in August, 2014. For more information on the Book Awards process, and a complete list of finalists and winners since 1988, visit

The Book Awards gala will be broadcast on future dates on Saint Paul Neighborhood Network and TPT-MN Channel.

Learn more about the books here.

The 26th 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. Statewide outreach partners include: the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators (CRPSLA); the Loft Literary Center; Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA); Minnesota Department of Education—State Library Services; and Minnesota Educational Media Organization. Media sponsors include: Minnesota Public Radio, Pioneer Press, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), and TPT-Minnesota Channel. 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; a Library Services and Technology Act grant administered through the Office of State Library Services; Alerus Financial; Books for Africa; Education Minnesota; GovDelivery; MSR Architects; Minnesota AFL-CIO; Sit Investment Associates; and Wellington Management, Inc.

*indicates a Minnesota-based publisher