Award-winning authors to visit Rochester
Each year in Minnesota, authors from around the state compete for the coveted title of Minnesota Book Award winner. Writers in all areas – from nonfiction to poetry, children’s literature to genre fiction – share their stories, and hundreds of people flock to the Twin Cities each April to see the winners announced live at the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony.
Originally created in 1988, the Book Awards has grown into a yearlong program that engages the entire Minnesota literary community, with events and outreach materials all over the state.
“The goal of the Minnesota Book Awards program is to connect readers and writers throughout the state and celebrate the rich literary tradition that we have here in Minnesota,” says Alayne Hopkins, Director of the Minnesota Book Awards.
This coming season will mark the 30th anniversary of this dynamic program, and to kick it off, the 2017 winners will embark on a tour of Greater Minnesota, with free programs in local libraries.
Rochester book lovers will have the first opportunity to get to know the winning authors when they gather at the Rochester Public Library for a public reading and discussion this July.
Featured authors at the upcoming event include J.J. Austrian, winner of the award for Children’s Literature for Worm Loves Worm, an irresistible picture book celebrating love in all its splendid forms. Austrian is a graduate of Hamline University’s Masters of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults. This is his first picture book.
Lara Avery is the recipient of the award for Young Adult Literature for The Memory Book, a funny and bittersweet novel chronicling the summer after a gifted high school valedictorian is diagnosed with a degenerative disease. Avery is the author of A Million Miles Away and Anything But Ordinary. She lives in Minneapolis, where she is a contributor at Revolver, and at work on her next novel.
Allen Eskens is the winner of the award for Genre Fiction for The Heavens May Fall, a mystery full of twists and turns which is vividly told from two opposing perspectives. Eskens is also the author of The Life We Bury, a Minnesota Book Award finalist, and The Guise of Another. He was a practicing criminal defense attorney for 25 years.
Peter Geye is the recipient of the award for Novel & Short Story for an epic tale of a love spanning 60 years, generations’ worth of feuds, and secrets withheld and revealed in Wintering. Geye is also the author of the novels Safe from the Sea and Lighthouse Road.
Shawn Otto is the author of the General Nonfiction award-winner The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It. Otto is an award-winning science advocate, educator, and speaker. He is the author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, winner of a Minnesota Book Award, and a novel, Sins of Our Fathers.
Cheri Register’s The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape is the recipient of the award for Minnesota Nonfiction and a history of vast age-old wetlands drained away in the name of agricultural progress. Register is also the author of Packinghouse Daughter, which won a Minnesota Book Award and an American Book Award.
Kao Kalia Yang retells the life of her father, a song poet and Hmong refugee in Minnesota, in The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, winner of the Memoir & Creative Nonfiction award. Yang is also the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, which was a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and the Asian American Literary Award, and received the 2009 Minnesota Book Award.
Brian Farrey is the Middle Grade Literature award winner for The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse, a thrilling modern fairytale. Farrey is the author of the Vengekeep Prophecies series and the Stonewall Honor Book and Minnesota Book Award-winner With or Without You.
Fans can get to know the Awards recipients on Thursday, July 20 at 6:30 p.m. through brief presentations and excerpts, followed by a moderated question and answer session and book sales and signing. Book sales will be provided by the Rochester Barnes & Noble.
This event is free and open to the public and presented by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library with the Rochester Public Library. The Minnesota Book Awards is sponsored this year by Education Minnesota.
About the Minnesota Book Awards
Now in its 30th season, the Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long program, produced by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, that fosters our statewide literary arts community. The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter with two rounds of judging. Winners are announced at the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony. Woven throughout the season are various engagement activities and events that promote the authors and connect the world of Minnesota books – writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors, and more – to readers throughout the state. In recognition of this and its other statewide programs and services, the Library of Congress has recognized The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Libraryas the state’s designated Center for the Book. For more information visit www.thefriends.org/mnba.
Cover photo: Kao Kalia Yang / Courtesy The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library