Seven authors from across Oregon were recognized for their outstanding achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s and young adult literature, and graphic literature at the 35th annual awards ceremony. Literary Arts’ Oregon Book Awards Monday night.
The ceremony, held in person at the Portland Center Stage at The Armory in the Pearl District for the first time since 2019, was hosted by an exuberant Kesha Ajose-Fisher, winner of the 2020 Ken Kesey Prize for Fiction.
“You are here right now because you followed your dreams,” she told the finalists. “We can sit with you as observers of the beautiful art you have created, but we are very lucky to be witnesses as you watch your dreams touch people because you dared to chase them away.”
The winners were selected by out-of-state judges from 205 books submitted for review in 44 cities across the state, according to Literary Arts executive director Andrew Proctor.
Here are the winners of the 2022 Oregon Book Award.
Eloise Jarvis McGraw Prize for Children’s Literature
Ashland’s Jennie Englund, for her novel ‘Taylor Before and After’, which follows a middle schooler through a year marked by tragedy and pain.
Englund was visibly upset as she accepted the award, saying she didn’t expect to win and therefore had no remarks prepared. After thanking Literary Arts for acknowledging the importance of mental health for children, she said: “‘Taylor Before and After’ is a book about a girl going through a really tough time. … We’ve been through it , and there is another side, and thank you for believing in hope and resilience.
Leslie Bradshaw Prize for Young Adult Literature
Courtney Gould of Salem, for “The Dead and the Dark,” a paranormal novel in which a family of ghost hunters arrive in a rural Oregon town and teenagers begin to disappear.
“This is my very first in-person event for this book,” Gould told the audience, to cheers and applause.
“I wrote ‘The Dead and the Dark’ for young gay men growing up in environments that aren’t always welcoming to them,” Gould said. “And the support of gay teenagers meant a lot to this book.”
Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Non-Fiction
Portland’s Allison Cobb, for “Plastic: An Autobiography,” a blend of reportage, research and memoir in which an abandoned plastic car part inspires a journey through the past and present to question the role of plastic in our lives. lives.
Cobb’s acknowledgments included a special thank you for community members in the book who live daily with the effects of plastic pollution.
Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Non-Fiction
Jacob Darwin Hamblin de Corvallis, for “The Wretched Atom: America’s Global Gamble With Peaceful Nuclear Technology”, a historical account of the United States’ pursuit of civilian atomic energy.
“The main question I get asked about this book is, ‘Is this a pro-nuclear book or an anti-nuclear book?’ said Hamblin. “And I say, ‘No, it’s a history book. It’s OK to read it without having an opinion for or against. “
Hamblin is a professor of history at Oregon State University.
Graphic Literature Award
Portland’s Brenna Bard, for “Trespassers: A Graphic Novel,” in which two girls spend their summer in a lakeside community trying to solve a mysterious disappearance long ago.
Bard described the Oregon comic community as “just special” and thanked her children, who were born during the years she worked on the book. “I was writing for me and now I’m writing for them,” she said.
Stafford/Hall Poetry Prize
Dao Strom from Portland, for “Instrument”, a mix of poetry and visual art complemented by an album of song-poems.
Strom said her book would not have been possible without collaborators, and thanked the poetic community for hosting her and “this strange mixture of art”.
Ken Kesey Prize for Fiction
West Linn’s Omar El Akkad, for his second novel, ‘What Strange Paradise’, which examines the global refugee crisis through the eyes of two children. El Akkad is now two for two at the Oregon Book Awards; he also won the fiction prize in 2018 for his first post-apocalyptic novel, “American War”.
“It’s an incredible honor, but it’s an even greater honor to be mentioned in the same breath as four outstanding writers,” El Akkad said, referring to fellow fiction finalists Chris Stuck, Callum Angus , Tracey Lange and AE Osworth.
Related: Authors shortlisted for Oregon Book Awards 2022 include rare two-time finalist
Literary Arts also presented the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award to Cynthia Whitcomb of Wilsonville, who served as president of Willamette Writers from 1995 to 2012. Whitcomb is an educator, screenwriter, playwright, and author who has been nominated for numerous awards, including Emmy Awards.
Whitcomb gave an acceptance speech that pleased the crowd and amounted to a pep talk for writers, concluding with “All you have to do is do your best”.
The awards ceremony also recognized nine writers and two editors who received $3,500 grants and two writers who received $10,000 career grants.
Related: $10,000 prize sparks angst and outrage in Portland’s literary community