The journey to the 2020 Minnesota Book Awards started last August with 229 submissions from publishers, authors, and agents. Fifty-four judges pared down the selection to 36 finalists across nine categories: children’s literature, general nonfiction, genre fiction, memoir and creative nonfiction, middle grade literature, Minnesota nonfiction, novel and short story, poetry, and young adult literature. The celebration will announce winners on April 28. Unfortunately, the ceremony can’t have its traditional festivities at the Ordway—we’ll particularly miss the Willie August Project’s original jazz compositions inspired by the winners. Luckily for us, a virtual event will be available for all to enjoy (cocktail attire encouraged).
The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library annually host the Book Awards. They’re part of the Minnesota Center for the Book, a Library of Congress affiliation which promotes reading, literacy, and libraries. Frequently, those who judge the books are librarians, educators, writers, and booksellers, but anyone is welcome to apply.The books themselves are scored on literary/artistic merit (50%), originality (30%), and audience appeal (20%). Past winners include Laurentian Divide: A Novel by Sarah Stonich, Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media by Heid E. Erdrich, and more.
Yes, the awards ceremony will look different this year. However, it will still fulfill its purpose: to support local authors and share ideas for what to read next in a one-of-a-kind event. Regional Emmy winner T. Mychael Rambo will emcee, and besides this year’s titles, the Awards will hand out special honors, including the Kay Sexton Award, the Book Artist Award, and the Hognander Minnesota History Award. Registration is required for the free event, and everyone who registers will be automatically entered for a chance to win a set of winning books.
To get a head start on your reading list, check out a few of the finalists:
General Nonfiction: The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer
Genre Fiction: The Body Keeper by Anne Frasier
Minnesota Nonfiction: Closing Time: Saloons, Taverns, Dives, and Watering Holes of the Twin Cities by Bill Lindeke and Andy Sturdevant
Novel and Short Story: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger