Minnesota loves its books. Minneapolis just took the top spot in an annual ranking of America's Most Literate Cities and St. Paul wasn't far beyond at No. 4.
On Saturday evening, readers, writers and publishers came out to celebrate the state's vibrant literary scene at the 27th annual Minnesota Book Awards.
Books written by Minnesotans and published in 2014 were eligible for the award. This year, more than 250 books were nominated and 32 were selected as finalists.
The winners were unveiled at Saturday's gala.
"Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold" by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen
Minnesota's wilderness comes alive in this charming book, where children can 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.
"Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life" by Nancy Koester
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.
"The Secret of Pembrooke Park" by Julie Klassen
Facing financial ruin and suffering from 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 18 years. Klassen is the author of eight novels, including three winners of the Christy Award for Historical Romance.
Memoir & Creative Nonfiction
"Tailings: A Memoir" by Kaethe Schwehn
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, 65 disgruntled villagers and a pile of copper mine tailings 150 feet high. Schwehn teaches at St. Olaf College.
"Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women's Movement" by Lori Sturdevant
At 38 years of age, Rosalie Wahl, a married mother of four, began classes at St. Paul's William Mitchell College of Law. 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.
Novel & Short Story
"A Brief History of Seven Killings" by Marlon James
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, a professor at Macalester College, is the author of "John Crow's Devil" and "The Book of Night Women," winner of a previous Minnesota Book Award.
"Dangerous Goods" by Sean Hill
From the Bahamas, London and Cairo to Bemidji, Minnesota and Milledgeville, Ga., Hill explores the relationships among travel, migration, alienation and home in this poignant and elegant collection. Hill, who was born and raised in Milledgeville, Ga., is also the author of "Blood Ties & Brown Liquor."
Young People's Literature
"West of the Moon" by Margi Preus
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-winning author of five books for young readers.
Kay Sexton Award
Mary Francois Rockcastle was recognized for her contributions to the Minnesota literary community with the Kay Sexton Award.
Rockcastle helped develop and launch the MFA in Creative Writing program at Hamline University in 1994. She is also the author of "In Caddis Wood" and "Rainy Lake," both published by local literary powerhouse Graywolf Press.
Book Artist Award
Harriet Bart and her longtime collaborative partners, Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne, received the Book Artist Award for a new piece entitled "Ghost Maps." 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.
The Minnesota Book Awards is a program of The Friends of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.