Minnesota Writers, Publishers Named on National Book Awards Longlist

Local literary legends continue to make history, as this week two local writers and two local publishers were selected for the prestigious longlist of the National Book Awards, which celebrates the best literature in America and ensures books continue to have a prominent place in American culture. Later this fall, the finalists and recipients of the prize will be announced.

The Ogress and the Orphans (Bookshop) by Minneapolis-based author Kelly Barnhill tells the fantastical tale of generosity, kindness, and community, focusing on a charming town called Stone-in-the-Glen, brave children, a kind ogress, and a dragon-slaying mayor. It received recognition in the Young People’s Literature category.

This isn’t Barnhill’s first literary rodeo, as the 1992 Minneapolis South High School and 1996 St. Catherine University grad has received writing fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation in St. Paul. Her book Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories (Bookshop) was named a finalist in the 2019 Minnesota Book Awards. Revisit our feature story on how the Newbery Award-winning author creates fantastical worlds from her south Minneapolis home.

Fiction writer Jonathan Escoffery’s If I Survive You (Bookshop) pulses with “vibrant lyricism and inimitable style, sly commentary, and contagious laughter,” following a Jamaican family striving for a better life in Miami. It chronicles the best and worst of American life, offering a glimpse into one family’s struggles with systemic capitalism, racism, and homelessness. Escoffery—a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA Program in Fiction—has taught writing seminars at the U of M, as well as Stanford University, the Center for Fiction, Tin House, Writers in Progress, and GrubStreet—where he founded the Boston Writers of Color Group.

Local publishers showed they aren’t messing around when it comes to literary prowess, with three award-winning titles, competing with largely New York-based presses. Jenny Xie‘s poetry collection The Rupture Tense (Bookshop), published by Graywolf Press; Allison Adelle Hedge Coke‘s poetry collection Look at This Blue (Bookshop), published by Coffee House Press; duck Monica Ojeda‘s translated novel Jaw Bone (Bookstore), published by Coffee House Press were named in the Poetry and Translated Literature categories.

And though award-winning Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa don’t have really any local ties, they focused on Minneapolis’s impact on one man’s life and death in their nonfiction book His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Bookshop), which made the Nonfiction list. The groundbreaking biography details how systemic racism propelled George Floyd—a man who experienced inequities in nearly every aspect of his life—to spark a global movement for radical racial justice.

Learn more about the National Book Awards, and see the full list of recipients, at nationalbook.org.

Rebecca Mennecke

Rebecca Mennecke is a writer, editor, poet, and award-winning journalist who tells meaningful stories of the Twin Cities community as the Assistant Editor of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Read more by Rebecca Mennecke

September 22, 2022

12:00 A.M


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