2019 Minnesota Book Award winners announced

2019 Minnesota Book Award honorees
2019 Minnesota Book Award honorees
Courtesy of publishers

Minnesota's literary community gathered Saturday night in St. Paul for the 31st annual Minnesota Book Awards.

More than 220 works by Minnesota authors and poets, published in 2018, were submitted for the awards; a panel of judges narrowed that field down to 36 finalists in January.

2019 Minnesota Book Award winners

Children's Literature

"The Rabbit Listened" by Cori Doerrfeld

"The Rabbit Listened" tells the story of Taylor, who doesn't know where to turn after a terrible loss. Many animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, but they fail. Then the rabbit arrives — and just listens, which is exactly what Taylor needs.

Finalists: "Best Friends in the Universe" by Stephanie Watson, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; "Hush Hush, Forest" by Mary Casanova, woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski; "Small Walt and Mo the Tow" by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

Middle Grade Literature

"The Key to Every Thing" by Pat Schmatz

"The Key to Every Thing" tells the story of Tash, who returns home from camp to find that 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. Is that true? And can Tash use it to get her back?

Finalists: "The Collectors" by Jacqueline West; "Louisiana's Way Home" by Kate DiCamillo; "Otherwood" by Pete Hautman

Young Adult Literature

"Dream Country" by Shannon Gibney

"Dream Country" shares the story of five generations of young people from one Liberian and Liberian American family as they struggle to create lives for themselves on two continents, chasing an elusive dream across centuries.

Finalists: "Hooper" by Geoff Herbach; "We'll Fly Away" by Bryan Bliss; "What I Leave Behind" by Alison McGhee

Genre Fiction

"The Voice Inside" by Brian Freeman

In "The Voice Inside," homicide inspector Frost Easton discovers a terrible lie: his closest friend planted false evidence to put a serial killer behind bars. With his sister's killer back on the streets, Frost has to stay ahead of a killer who's determined to strike again.

Finalists: "Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories" by Kelly Barnhill; "Leave No Trace" by Mindy Mejia; "The Shadows We Hide" by Allen Eskens

General Nonfiction

"Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick" by Maya Dusenbery

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.

Finalists: "The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property" by Martin Case; "A Stranger's Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing" by David Mura; "Whaleback Ships and the American Steel Barge Company" by C. Roger Pellett

Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

"Chinese-Ness: The Meanings of Identity and the Nature of Belonging" by Wing Young Huie

Is Chinese identity personal, national, cultural, political? Using documentary and conceptual photographic strategies, Huie explores the meaning of Chinese-ness in his home state of Minnesota, throughout the U.S., and in China. Part meta-memoir and part actual memoir, "Chinese-ness" reframes today's conversations about race and identity.

Finalists: "The Art of the Wasted Day" by Patricia Hampl; "The I-35W Bridge Collapse: A Survivor's Account of America's Crumbling Infrastructure" by Kimberly J. Brown; "Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life" by Dianna Hunter

Minnesota Nonfiction

"The Crusade for Forgotten Souls: Reforming Minnesota's Mental Institutions, 1946-1954" by Susan Bartlett Foote

Foote 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.

Finalists: "The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876" by William D. Green; "Gichi Bitobig, Grand Marais: Early Accounts of the Anishinaabeg and the North Shore Fur Trade" by Timothy Cochrane; "Gunflint Burning: Fire in the Boundary Waters" by Cary J. Griffith


"GeNtry!fication: or the scene of the crime" by Chaun Webster

Webster investigates race and engages the question of absence, and how to archive what is missing from the landscape — particularly as communities watch as neighborhoods once populated with familiar presences dissolve amid redevelopment and its linked colonial logic.

Finalists: "The Body of the World" by Mary Moore Easter; "Not Here" by Hieu Minh Nguyen; "Wilder" by Claire Wahmanholm

Novel and Short Story

"Laurentian Divide" by Sarah Stonich

"Laurentian Divide" returns to the northern Minnesota town of Hatchet Inlet and picks up where Stonich's previous novel "Vacationland" left off, providing a poignant portrayal of life on the edge in border country.

Finalists: "A Lady's Guide to Selling Out" by Sally Franson; "Oranges" by Gary Eldon Peter; "The Patron Saint of Lost Girls" by Maureen Aitken

In addition to the nine genre-specific categories, the Minnesota Book Awards also honored Jody Williams with the Book Artist Award for her book "For Now." David Mura was honored with the Kay Sexton Award, recognizing his work to increase literary accessibility and audiences, and foster writers of color through his workshops, mentoring and advocacy.

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

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