The Oracle

Ceremony celebrates Minnesota literature

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library hold their 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards ceremony on Saturday, April 16.

Justin Christensen, Senior Reporter

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For 28 years, the Minnesota Book Awards have distinguished the best of local literary talent. With the help of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, a nonprofit organization that supports the Saint Paul Public Library, the awards have evolved and grown, exposing readers to prominent Minnesota authors.

The ceremony on Saturday night awarded the best books in eight different categories, including Children’s Literature, Novel and Short Story and General Fiction. All the books nominated must be from an author who maintains a year-round residence in Minnesota and have to have been published in 2015.

Alayne Hopkins, the Minnesota Book Awards Director, suggested that the awards are a great way for readers to discover new authors.

“All of our efforts are geared at bringing knowledge and awareness of these books and these writers into the community,” she said.

Not only do the awards help readers to find new authors, the annual ceremony also brings people together. Readers, authors and publishers attend the event, where there are many different things to do—including book signings, a cash bar, light snacks and an after party. This year, traditional New Orleans jazz band Southside Aces performed at the after party.

Hopkins talked about how the ceremony and connecting readers with new authors is all part of what The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library wants for the Minnesota Book Awards.

“Our goal in running this program is to celebrate the great work that’s created by our state’s residents and to connect as many readers as possible with these books,” she said.

Although the ceremony is the highlight of the Minnesota Book Awards, there are many events leading up to it, including an exhibit and a meet the finalists event. Hopkins mentioned that the Minnesota Book Awards is more than just the one night.

“We really do have a presence all year round,” she said.

Throughout the year, anyone can nominate a book as long as it meets the Minnesota Book Awards requirements. The deadline for nomination is usually sometime in early December, and from there the books go through two sets of judges before the finalists are announced.

Eight winners were announced on Saturday night out of these 32 finalistsone for each category. Some of the winners were Charles Baxter, a professor in the Creative Writing graduate program at the University of Minnesota, who won the Novel and Short Story category for his book “There’s Something I Want You to Do.” Ray Gonzalez, another professor at the University of Minnesota,  won the Poetry category for his work “Beautiful Wall,” and Ellen Hart, who teaches classes at The Loft Literary Center  won the Genre Fiction award for her mystery novel, “The Grave Soul.”

All three of these authors have won Minnesota Book Awards previously.

Aside from the various literary categories, there were three other awards given out on Saturday night: the 2016 Kay Saxton Award, the Book Artist Award and the Hognander Minnesota History Award.

For a full list of the 2016 Minnesota Book Awards winners, information about how to nominate a book and a list of other events that The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library put on, visit or sign up for their monthly newsletter.

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Ceremony celebrates Minnesota literature