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AUTHOR PHOTO BY SOPHIA SHALMIYEV

Literary Arts announced the 2019 Oregon Book Awards finalists yesterday and for people like me—for whom book lists are like Xmas—there are some interesting works to look into. There are some of familiar names too. It's no surprise to see Red Clocks by Leni Zumas included in the fiction category as the Mercury's former Arts Editor Megan Burbank dubbed the dystopian novel "speculative lit at its finest." Here's an excerpt from that review:

Red Clocks delivers a stark, clear truth about the existential quandary of being a person capable of ceding your body to the gestation of another body. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do. It’s a monstrous thing to force someone to do. And between these two extremes is where most of us live.

Another book we raved about, French Exit by Patrick deWitt, is also nominated in the fiction category. It's been quite a year for deWitt. His 2011 historical fiction novel The Sisters Brothers was adapted into a "darkly funny, satisfyingly violent" film co-starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix. Both Sisters Brothers and French Exit ended up on our year-end favorite lists. In his review of French Exit Senior Editor Ned Lannamann declared, "I’ll read every book Patrick deWitt writes."

THERE ARE COUPLE WEIRD THINGS with this year's list of finalists. There aren't as many small press or self-published titles this year as there have been in years past. One could attribute this to Oregon writers getting better, bigger book deals in 2018, but I still miss the small fries. Also ABSENT from the rundown are any finalists for Graphic Literature, but when I asked Megan Gex, Communication Manager for Literary Arts, she explained that the Graphic Literature Award and Drama Award rotate each year and this is a drama year. The categories are open to books published in the past two years.

Check out the long list of nominees and special award recipients is after the jump. We'll have an update on winners after Mon, April 22 or you can check the festivities out for yourself at this year's ceremony in the Gerding Theater at the Armory. It'll be hosted by Cheryl Strayed! I have never been to an awards ceremony fancier than standing in the back of the Precipice Fund grants, with a small mountain of cheese cubes on a paper plate, so I have no idea if the Oregon Book Awards Ceremony is any fun.

KEN KESEY AWARD FOR FICTION
Judges: Kim Fu, J. Robert Lennon, Hannah Pittard

Patrick deWitt of Portland, French Exit (Ecco)
Nick Dybek of Corvallis, The Verdun Affair (Scribner)
John Larison of Monroe, Whiskey When We're Dry (Penguin Random House)
Taylor Zajonc of Portland, The Maw (Skyhorse Publishing)
Leni Zumas of Portland, Red Clocks (Little,Brown)

STAFFORD/HALL AWARD FOR POETRY
Judges: Forrest Gander, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Willie Perdomo

José Angel Araguz of McMinnville, Until We Are Level Again (Mongrel Empire Press)
Matthew Minicucci of Portland, Small Gods (New Issues Poetry & Prose)
Eliza Rotterman of Portland, Dirt Eaters (Tupelo Press)
Wendy Willis of Portland, A Long Late Pledge (Bear Star Press)
Beth Wood of Portland, Ladder to the Light (Mezcalita Press)

FRANCES FULLER VICTOR AWARD FOR GENERAL NONFICTION
Judges: Langdon Cook, Angela Garbes, Christine Heyrman

Katrine Barber of Portland, In Defense of Wyam: Native-White Alliances and the Struggle for Celilo Village (University of Washington Press)
Kenneth R. Coleman of Portland, Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon (OSU Press)
Brook Colley of Phoenix, Power in the Telling: Grand Ronde, Warm Springs, and Intertribal Relations in the Casino Era (University of Washington Press)
Mary DeMocker of Eugene, The Parents' Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night's Sleep (New World Library)
Noah Strycker of Creswell, Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


SARAH WINNEMUCCA AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION
Judges: Amy Fusselman, Paul Lisicky, Terese Mailhot

manuel arturo abreu of Portland, Incalculable Loss (Institute for New Connotative Action Press)
David Biespiel of Portland, The Education of a Young Poet (Counterpoint Press)
Apricot Irving of Corbett, The Gospel of Trees (Simon & Schuster)
Dionisia Morales of Corvallis, Homing Instincts (OSU Press)
Meaghan O'Connell of Portland, And Now We Have Everything (Little Brown)


ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Judges: Ashyln Anstee, Ben Clanton, Linda Marshall

Kate Berube of Portland, Mae's First Day of School (Abrams Books)
Barbara Herkert of Newport, A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White (Henry Holt and Co. )
Michelle Roehm McCann of Portland, More Girls Who Rocked the World (Aladdin/Beyond Words)
Emily Whitman of Portland , The Turning (Greenwillow Books)
Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen (Balzer & Bray)

LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
Judges: Donna Freitas, Ashley Pérez, Kathryn Reiss

Shea Ernshaw of Bend, The Wicked Deep (Simon & Schuster)
Fonda Lee of Portland, Cross Fire: An Exo Novel (Scholastic Press)
Shelley Pearson of Portland, Book Smarts & Tender Hearts (Ingram Spark)
Emily Suvada of Portland, This Mortal Coil (Simon & Schuster)

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ANGUS BOWMER AWARD FOR DRAMA
Judges: Robert Caisley, Cusi Cram, Liz Engelman

E.M. Lewis of Woodburn, Magellanica
Andrea Stolowitz of Portland, Successful Strategies

SPECIAL AWARDS:

In addition to recognizing the finest achievements of Oregon authors in several genres, Literary Arts recognizes individual contributions to the literary community with the Charles Erskine Scott Wood Distinguished Writer Award, Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award, the Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award.

The Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award
José González of Portland