Winners of the 2011 Minnesota Book Awards, announced on Saturday night in St. Paul, include a novel about a man torn between his first love and the priesthood, a poetry debut, a journalist's memoir, a history of Finnish saunas in the north woods, an animal-centric children's picture book and a history of the American Indian lands that became Minnesota.
Any book written by a Minnesotan and published in 2010 was eligible. Altogether, winners were named in eight categories. They were selected by a panel of judges who looked at 32 books picked as finalists from among 293 books nominated.
Nearly 2,000 voters across the state weighed in to select the Reader's Choice Award, which went to Laurie Hertzel, books editor at the Star Tribune, for "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," a memoir about becoming a print journalist in the 1970s in Duluth (published by University of Minnesota Press).
The other winners:
Novel/short story: "Vestments," by John Reimringer, set in St. Paul, is about a man struggling between love and the priesthood (Milkweed Editions).
General nonfiction: "The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition," by Michael Nordskog and Aaron Hautala, looks at the history, culture and practice of saunas (University of Wisconsin Press).
Minnesota nonfiction: "North Country: The Making of Minnesota," by Mary Lethert Wingerd, is an illustrated history explaining how the land the Dakota named Mini Sota Makoce became the state of Minnesota (U of M Press.)
Memoir/creative nonfiction: "Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA," by Bonnie J. Rough, examines a genetic condition that affects the author's thinking about having a child (Counterpoint).
Poetry: "Find the Girl," by Lightsey Darst, is the poet's debut volume, examining girlhood, womanhood and America's interest in missing and exploited children (Coffee House Press).
Genre fiction: "The Tale of Halcyon Crane," by Wendy Webb, concerns a woman who thought her mother had died in a fire years earlier but finds out otherwise as she unearths family secrets (Henry Holt & Co.).
Children's literature: "My Heart Is Like a Zoo," by Michael Hall, is the author's first picture book for children, featuring a bright collection of animals created out of heart shapes (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins).
Young people's literature: "Blank Confession," by Pete Hautman, tells the story of a new kid in town who walks into a police station and confesses to a murder (Simon & Schuster).
As previously announced, the Kay Sexton Award for lifetime contributions to the literary community went to St. Paul poet and organizer Carol Connolly, and the Book Artist Award went to Regula Russelle, whose work is on display at the St. Paul Central Library through April.
The awards are run by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library. More information about the winners can be found at www.thefriends.org.