Minnesota Book Awards Announce 2023 Finalists

Finalists for the 2023 Minnesota Book Awards were announced recently, with a total of 35 books in nine different categories making their way to the in-person award ceremony at the Ordway on May 2. The annual Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library literary competition aims to connect readers and writers throughout the state by sharing the stories of our neighbors. Each season, the competition highlights the chosen writers, illustrators, editors, and publishers with reader-friendly activities and events.  

The Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long program that begins with submission in the fall and continues into the winter with a preliminary and a final round of book judging. The winners are announced each spring at the award ceremony, and tickets for this year’s event can be found online on the Ordway’s website. (Until then, get your read on with the full list below.)

Children’s Literature: 

The Dark Was Done by Lauren Stringer

So Much Snow by Kristen Schroeder; illustrated by Sarah Jacoby 

Where We Come From by Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney, and John Coy; illustrated by Dion MBD 

You Are Life by Bao Phi; illustrated by Hannah Li  

General Nonfiction: 

Daughters of Arraweelo: Stories of Somali Women by Ayaan Adan 

They Don’t Want Her There: Fighting Sexual and Racial Harassment in the American University by Carolyn Chalmers 

Through the Banks of the Red Cedar: My Father and the Team That Changed the Game by Maya Washington 

Wilhelm’s Way: The Inspiring Story of the Iowa Chemist Who Saved The Manhattan Project by Teresa Wilhelm Waldof 

Genre Fiction: 

The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey 

Sinister Graves by Marcie Rendon 

The Temps by Andrew DeYoung 

The Ursulina by Brian Freeman 

Memoir and Creative Nonfiction: 

Farewell Transmission: Notes from Hidden Spaces by Will McGrath 

Seven Aunts by Staci Lola Drouillard 

Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide by Juliet Patterson 

The Way She Wants to Get There: Telling on Myself by Mary Moore Easter 

Middle Grade Literature: 

The Counterclockwise Heart by Brian Farrey 

Meet Me Halfway by Anika Fajardo 

Monsters in the Mist by Juliana Brandt 

Windswept by Margi Preus

Emilie Buchwald Award for Minnesota Nonfiction: 

A Natural Curiosity: The Story of the Bell Museum by Lansing Shepard, Don Luce, Barbara Coffin, and Gwen Schagrin 

Rochester: An Urban Biography by Virginia M. Wright-Peterson 

The Steger Homestead Kitchen: Simple Recipes for an Abundant Life by Will Steger and Rita 

Mae Steger with Beth Dooley 

When Minnehaha Flowed With Whiskey: A Spirited History of the Falls by Karen E. Cooper 

Novel and Short Story: 

The Barrens by Kurt Johnson and Ellie Johnson 

Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress 

Till the Wheels Fall Off by Brad Zellar 


How to Communicate by John Lee Clark 

Real Work by Janna Knittel 

Surface Displacements by Sheila Packa 

The Wet Hex by Sun Yung Shin 

Young Adult Literature: 

Born in a Red Canoe by Katharine Johnson 

The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen by Gary Eldon Peter 

Maxwell and the Legend of Inini-Makwa by Simon Hargreaves 

Mendel by Damone Bester

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