Minnesota Book Awards 2016: And the winners are...

Minnesota Book Award 2016 winners
Ryan Berg won the General Nonfiction award for his debut book. Veteran mystery writer Ellen Hart won the Genre Fiction award for the latest in her Jane Lawless series.
Courtesy of publishers

Minnesota's vibrant literary scene was on full display Saturday evening at St. Paul's Union Depot. More than 900 guests came out to celebrate the power of a good book at the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards.

More than 250 books were nominated this year. A panel of judges selected 32 finalists, which were announced in January.

Many of last night's winners were previous Minnesota Book Award honorees — mystery writer Ellen Hart, novelist and short story writer Charles Baxter and poet Ray Gonzalez had all won the award previously.

Next year, award organizers announced, there will be even more finalists: The Minnesota Book Awards are adding a category for middle-grade books

2016 Minnesota Book Award winners

Children's Literature

"Red: A Crayon's Story" by Michael Hall

What happens when a crayon suffers an identity crisis? Hall's witty children's adventure follows the colorful chaos that unfolds when a blue crayon mistakenly ends up in a red wrapper.

Hall is also the author of "My Heart Is Like a Zoo" and "It's an Orange Aardvark!"

General Nonfiction

"No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions" by Ryan Berg

In his debut book, Berg writes about his years as a caseworker in New York for homeless LGBTQ teens. He offers a view into the little-discussed lives of teenagers cut off from their homes, trying to find themselves on the streets.

Genre Fiction

"The Grave Soul" by Ellen Hart

Hart returns with another tale of restaurateur and private investigator Jane Lawless. Lawless's newest case is tied up with a haunting nightmare, and deep family secrets that just won't stay hidden.

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction

"Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life" by Karen Babine

Babine's essays tell the story of the Minnesota landscape through water, from Lake Superior to the soil of an apple orchard.


"Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury" by Larry Millett

Millett traces the roots of the mid-century modern architecture movement and where you can see surviving examples of it in Minnesota. The book includes original photography from Denes Saari and Maria Forrai Saari.

Novel & Short Story

"There's Something I Want You to Do" by Charles Baxter

In Baxter's short story collection, ten interconnected stories are tied together by the title phrase, which characters repeat throughout the book. The cast of Minnesota characters confront obsession, fears and the power of small decisions.


"Beautiful Wall" by Ray Gonzalez

In his fifteenth poetry collection, Gonzalez travels to the Southwest to reflect on the desert landscapes and the border conflicts that have flared anew.

Young People's Literature

"See No Color" by Shannon Gibney

Gibney's powerful coming-of-age novel follows 16-year-old Alex Kirtridge, an all-star baseball player and a bi-racial adoptee in a white family. When she discovers letters from her biological father that her adopted parents kept secret, she has to come to terms with her identity on and off the baseball diamond.

The winners of three honorary awards, which had been previously announced, were also celebrated at Saturday's gala. Jim Sitter received the Kay Sexton Award, which honors individuals for their commitment to building the local literary scene. William Green received the Hognander Minnesota History Award, which honors a work of Minnesota scholarship, for his book, "Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912." And Wendy Fernstrum received the Book Artist Award for her work "One is the Holiest Number (#2)."

The Minnesota Book Awards is a program of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

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