2019 Minnesota Book Award Winners Announced

April 6, 2019, SAINT PAUL, MN – The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has announced the winners of the 2019 Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by Education Minnesota. In addition to winners in nine categories, The Friends presented the Book Artist Award and Kay Sexton Award to previously announced honorees.

Over 800 people attended the awards ceremony at the InterContinental Hotel on Saturday, April 6, emceed by Roxane Battle, veteran journalist and award-winning author. The winners of the 2019 Minnesota Book Awards are:

Award for Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:
Cori Doerrfeld – The Rabbit Listened – published by Dial Books For Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers

When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs. Doerrfeld is the creator of many books for children, including Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story and The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig. She lives in Minneapolis.

Award for General Nonfiction, sponsored by the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University:
Maya Dusenbery – Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick – published by HarperOne/HarperCollins

In Doing Harm, Dusenbery provides a comprehensive, accessible look at how sexism in medicine harms women today, bringing together scientific and sociological research, interviews with doctors and researchers, and personal stories from women across the country. Dusenbery is the editor of the award-winning site feministing.com. Before becoming a journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. She lives in Saint Paul.

Award for Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
Brian Freeman – The Voice Inside – published by Thomas & Mercer

Four years after serial killer Rudy Cutter was sent away for life, homicide inspector Frost Easton uncovers a terrible lie: his closest friend planted false evidence to put Cutter behind bars. When he’s forced to reveal the truth, his sister’s killer is back on the streets. Staying ahead of a killer who’s determined to strike again won’t be easy – not when the killer’s next move is unlike anything Frost expected. Freeman is a bestselling author of psychological thrillers, including the Jonathan Stride and Cab Bolton series. His works have been sold in 46 countries and translated into 22 languages. He lives in Woodbury.

Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Bradshaw Celebration of Life Centers:
Wing Young Huie – Chinese-Ness: The Meanings of Identity and the Nature of Belonging – published by Minnesota Historical Society Press*

Is Chinese identity personal, national, cultural, political? Does it migrate, become malleable or transmuted? Using documentary and conceptual photographic strategies, Huie explores the meaning of Chinese-ness in his home state of Minnesota, throughout the United States, and in China. Part meta-memoir and part actual memoir, Chinese-ness reframes today’s conversations about race and identity. A celebrated photographer, Huie’s work has captured the complex cultural realities of American society for over 30 years and has been shown around the world. He lives in Minneapolis.

Award for Middle Grade Literature, sponsored by Education Minnesota:
Pat Schmatz – The Key to Every Thing – published by Candlewick Press

When Tash returns home from camp, one of the only people she has ever counted on, Cap’n Jackie, is gone. Tash needs her – and the key that Cap’n Jackie insists has magic in it. The Captain has always said that all Tash has to do is hold it tight and the magic will come. Is it true? And can Tash use it to get her back? Schmatz is also the author of Lizard Radio and Bluefish and lives in Minneapolis.

Award for Minnesota Nonfiction, sponsored by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Susan Bartlett Foote – The Crusade for Forgotten Souls: Reforming Minnesota’s Mental Institutions, 1946-1954 – published by University of Minnesota Press*

The Crusade for Forgotten Souls recounts Minnesota’s reform movement that broke the stigma surrounding mental illness, publicized the painful truth about the state’s asylums, and resulted in the first legislative steps toward a modern mental health system. Foote tells the story of the early advocates for compassionate care of the mentally ill who made the crusade a success. Foote is a writer, historian, lawyer, and professor emerita in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Managing the Medical Arms Race: Innovation and Public Policy in the Medical Device Industry. She lives in Saint Paul.

Award for Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Alerus:
Sarah Stonich – Laurentian Divide – published by University of Minnesota Press*

Returning to the northern Minnesota town of Hatchet Inlet, Laurentian Divide picks up the story where Stonich’s novel, Vacationland, left off, providing a poignant portrayal of life on the edge in border country. Bitter winters are nothing new in Hatchet Inlet, but the advent of spring can’t thaw the community’s collective grief, lingering since a senseless tragedy the previous fall. Stonich is also the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Ice Chorus and These Granite Islands, and a memoir, Shelter. She lives in Minneapolis.

Award for Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
Chaun Webster – GeNtry!fication: or the scene of the crime – published by Noemi Press

Webster investigates race in his debut collection, drawing inspiration from sign in graffiti, layering of collage, and the visual experience of text. He engages the question of absence, how to archive what is missing from the landscape, particularly as a number of communities watch in real time as neighborhoods once populated with familiar presences dissolve in the vernacular of redevelopment and its linked colonial logic. Webster is a poet and graphic designer. He lives in Minneapolis.

Award for Young Adult Literature, sponsored by United Educators Credit Union:
Shannon Gibney – Dream Country – published by Dutton Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House

In 1926, Togar flees deep into the Liberian bush, desperate to escape a militia. In 1980, Ujay and Evelyn dare to believe their love can survive Liberia’s fast-approaching revolution. In 2008, Kollie cracks under the strain of life as a teenage Liberian refugee in Minneapolis. Dream Country is the story of five generations of young people from one African American family chasing an elusive dream across centuries and continents. Gibney is an author and college professor. Her novel, See No Color, drawn from her life as a transracial adoptee, won a Minnesota Book Award. She lives in Minneapolis.

*indicates a Minnesota-based publisher

Special Awards Presented at the Ceremony
The Book Artist Award was presented to Jody Williams, for her new book For Now. At once a book, a box, and a puzzle, For Now was born from a desire to create a book about dust and evolved into a meticulously designed exploration of the number four and its many associations. 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. Williams is a book artist, printmaker, teacher, and writer based in Minneapolis.

David Mura received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award. David Mura is an author, critic, teacher, and performance artist who has increased literary accessibility and audiences, and fostered writers of color through his workshops, mentoring, and tireless advocacy, both here in Minnesota and around the country. He co-founded the Asian American Renaissance, an Asian American arts organization and served as its artistic director. The Award is sponsored by St. Catherine University.

Books written by a Minnesotan and first published in 2018 were eligible for the 31st annual Minnesota Book Awards. A total of 228 books were submitted for awards this year, and 36 books were selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by panels of judges from around the state. Submissions for next year’s awards will open in August, 2019. For more information on the Book Awards process, and a list of finalists and winners since 1988, visit www.thefriends.org/mnba.

The Book Awards ceremony 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 31st annual Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library that fosters our statewide literary arts community. Major funding for the Book Awards was provided by Education Minnesota. The media sponsor is the Star Tribune.

About The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library:
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library acts as a catalyst for libraries to strengthen and inspire their communities. An independent, nonprofit organization established in 1945, The Friends invests in the Saint Paul Public Library through fundraising, advocacy, and programming; as a result, our Library is a nationally-recognized leader in serving its community. The Friends also serves libraries across the country and internationally through its consulting services, Library Strategies, and promotes literacy, reading, and libraries statewide as the Library of Congress’s designated Minnesota Center for the Book. For more information, contact The Friends at 651-222-3242 or visit thefriends.org.