A tale about a snow plow and a tow truck, the story of how indigenous land became U.S. property, a memoir in praise of daydreaming, a survivor’s account of the I-35W bridge collapse and a book of post-apocalyptic poems are shoulder-to-shoulder on this year’s list of Minnesota Book Awards finalists, announced Saturday by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.
Our annual reminder of the wealth of subjects covered by Minnesota authors includes several familiar names: Kelly Barnhill, Bryan Bliss, Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Gibney, Patricia Hampl, Wing Young Huie, Alison McGhee, David Mura. Of the 36 finalists, 12 are from Minnesota publishers, with the Coffee House Press, Milkweed Editions, Minnesota Historical Society Press, New Rivers Press and the University of Minnesota Press all represented.
The award winners will be announced at a ceremony on Saturday, April 6, at the InterContinental Hotel in St. Paul. Meanwhile, you can start rooting for your favorites or exploring titles you haven’t yet read. And mark your calendar for the yearly Meet the Finalists event, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, March 15, at the U’s Andersen Library. It’s free.
Here are the finalists:
Children’s Literature: “Best Friends in the Universe” by Stephanie Watson, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Orchard Books), “Hush Hush, Forest” by Mary Casanova, woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski (University of Minnesota Press), “The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld (Dial Books for Young Readers), “Small Walt and Mo the Tow” by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (Paula Wiseman Books).
General Nonfiction: “Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick” by Maya Dusenbery (HarperOne), “The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property” by Martin Case (Minnesota Historical Society Press); “A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing” by David Mura (The University of Georgia Press); “Whaleback Ships and the American Steel Barge Company” by C. Roger Pellett (Wayne State University Press).
Genre Fiction: “Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Books); “Leave No Trace” by Mindy Mejia (Emily Bestler Books); “The Shadows We Hide” by Allen Eskens (Mulholland Books); “The Voice Inside” by Brian Freeman (Thomas & Mercer).
Memoir & Creative Nonfiction: “The Art of the Wasted Day” by Patricia Hampl (Viking); “Chinese-Ness: The Meanings of Identity and the Nature of Belonging” by Wing Young Huie (Minnesota Historical Society Press); “The I-35W Bridge Collapse: A Survivor’s Account of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure” by Kimberly J. Brown (Potomac Books); “Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life” by Dianna Hunter (University of Minnesota Press)
Middle Grade Literature: “The Collectors” by Jacqueline West (Greenwillow Books); “The Key to Every Thing” by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick Press); “Louisiana’s Way Home” by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press); “Otherwood” by Pete Hautman (Candlewick Press).
Minnesota Nonfiction: “The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876” by William D. Green (University of Minnesota Press); “The Crusade for Forgotten Souls: Reforming Minnesota’s Mental Institutions, 1946-1954” by Susan Bartlett Foote (University of Minnesota Press); “Gichi Bitobig, Grand Marais: Early Accounts of the Anishinaabeg and the North Shore Fur Trade” by Timothy Cochrane (University of Minnesota Press); “Gunflint Burning: Fire in the Boundary Waters” by Cary J. Griffith (University of Minnesota Press).
Novel & Short Story: “A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out” by Sally Franson (The Dial Press/Penguin Random House); “Laurentian Divide: A Novel” by Sarah Stonich (University of Minnesota Press); “Oranges” by Gary Eldon Peter (New Rivers Press); “The Patron Saint of Lost Girls” by Maureen Aitken (Southeast Missouri State University Press).
Poetry: “The Body of the World” by Mary Moore Easter (Mad Hat Press); “GeNtry!fication: or the scene of the crime” by Chaun Webster (Noemi Press); “Not Here” by Hieu Minh Nguyen (Coffee House Press); “Wilder” by Claire Wahmanholm (Milkweed Editions).
Young Adult Literature: “Dream Country” by Shannon Gibney (Dutton Books for Young Readers); “Hooper” by Geoff Herbach (Katherine Tegen Books); “We’ll Fly Away” by Bryan Bliss (Greenwillow Books); “What I Leave Behind” by Alison McGhee (Atheneum Books for Young Readers).
Tickets for the ceremony are now on sale. Jody Williams, the 2019 Book Artist Award winner, will also be honored at that event. So will the as-yet-unnamed winners of the 2019 Kay Sexton Award and the Hognander Minnesota History Award.
[Update: This event has been postponed because of the weather; new date TBA.] Wednesday at the Parkway: Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali: “The Monk of Mokha” Live. Eggers has written our favorite kind of book: a ripping tale about something that really happened. His latest, “The Monk of Mokha,” is a page-turner about a young Yemeni American entrepreneur (Alkhanshali) who dreams of restoring Yemeni coffee to its original glory and is caught up in Yemen’s civil war. It’s also the story of coffee itself, and the incredibly lengthy and laborious process of producing it. Eggers hints in the prologue of how learning about coffee changed his life and may change yours: “Before embarking on this project, I was a casual coffee drinker and a great skeptic of specialty coffee. I thought it was too expensive, and that anyone who cared so much about how coffee was brewed, or where it came from, or waited in line for certain coffees made certain ways, was pretentious and a fool.” Some things are worth going out for, even on what looks to be the coldest night of the year. Doors at 6 p.m., conversation at 7, signing to follow. FMI and tickets ($10/26).
Thursday at Plymouth Congregational Church: All-Bach piano recital by Angela Hewitt. A rare performance of Bach’s complete Keyboard Toccatas. Because the Toccatas weren’t written for the church or the court, they’re viewed as Bach writing what he wants, and each is an exercise in virtuosity. Canadian classical pianist Hewitt is famed for her Bach interpretations, so this is a perfect pairing. 7:30 p.m. and, amazingly, free, because it’s Philip Brunelle’s 50th year at Plymouth and this concert is part of the celebration.
Thursday through Saturday at the Walker: Lola Arias: “Minefield.” The Walker’s “Out There” festival of performance alternatives concludes with a work of documentary theater in which Argentine and British veterans from both sides of the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War explore the minefields of their memories. Arias is a Buenos Aires-based writer, director, visual artist and actor; this highly anticipated Out There show has sold out multiple runs in London and toured globally. 8 p.m. all three nights. FMI and tickets ($30/24).
Saturday and Sunday at the Cedar: Eighth Annual Cedar Commissions. Six local emerging artists have each received $4,500 to create over 30 minutes of new music. They’ve worked for six months to bring their creations to the stage. This weekend, we’ll see and hear the results. On Friday: Tarek Abdelqader’s “Authenticity and Identity” will blend Middle Eastern percussion with a jazz rhythm section. In “Love and Labor,” Antoine Martinneau will use live instrumentation, turntable and spoken rhymes to reflect on his relationship to making a living. In “Awareness Month,” a collection of songs, Brianna Lane will offer glimpses into life with invisible chronic illness. On Saturday: Yigitcan Eryaman will explore Minnesota seasons through a Turkish man’s eyes and ears. In the ten songs of “Phantom Cries,” Kashimana Ahua will visit common misconceptions about pregnancy and the rising rate of maternal and infant mortality among women of color in the United States. And Jo Kellen will combine music, puppets and projections in a multimedia song cycle called “Serious Glee.” Both nights all ages. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. FMI and tickets here and here ($10 per night, $15 two-show pass).