Society of Midland Authors Awards

Last night, I attended the annual awards banquet of the venerable Society of Midland Authors. It was a modest crowd but a truly enjoyable evening—being in the company of people who value books and authors so highly has a way of raising my spirits. Master of ceremonies and prolific author Jay Bonansinga kept things light as he paid very funny tribute to the Midwest and mid-list authors. Patricia Ann McNair, finalist for The Temple of Air, dedicated her book and her honor to her parents, both writers. Richard Lindberg spoke movingly (and humorously) of the long road to publication for his memoir Whiskey Breakfast (the first book he’s published, he noted, that doesn’t have Chicago in the title). Gregory White Smith—a Pulitzer winner and a National Book Award finalist—shared fascinating insight on his writing partnership with Steven Naifeh on Van Gogh: The Life. Elizabeth Taylor, the Chicago Tribune‘s literary editor, gave thanks as she accepted the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism.

But it was Susanna Childress, poetry winner for Entering the House of Awe, who stole the show. Taking the mic, the very pregnant poet sang W. B. Yeats’ “When You Are Old” in a haunting, Appalachian-inflected melody. (Noting later that she is from Southern Indiana, or “Kentuckiana,” she jokingly wondered why it’s never called “Indiuky.”) A memorable evening with writers who deserve to be celebrated.

ADULT FICTION

Winner

The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain

Finalists

The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock

The Temple of Air, by Patricia Ann McNair

 

ADULT NONFICTION

Winner

Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America, by B. J. Hollars

Finalists

Cold-Blooded Kindness: Neuroquirks of a Codependent Killer, or Just Give Me a Shot at Loving You, Dear, and Other Reflections on Helping That Hurts, by Barbara Oakley

The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime: Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865–1913, by Steven A. Riess

 

BIOGRAPHY

Winner

Van Gogh: The Life, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

Finalists

Alexander the Great, by Philip Freeman

Whiskey Breakfast: My Swedish Family My American Life, by Richard C. Lindberg

 

CHILDREN’S FICTION

Winner

Words in the Dust, by Trent Reedy

 

CHILDREN’S NONFICTION

Winner

Garbage: Investigate What Happens When You Throw It Out, by Donna Latham

Finalist

Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London, by Andrea Warren

 

POETRY

Winner

Entering the House of Awe, by Susanna Childress

Finalist

The Moon from Every Window, by Rob Griffith

 

JAMES FRIEND MEMORIAL AWARD FOR LITERARY AND DRAMATIC CRITICISM

Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune literary editor

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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