BEST BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR (1998)
Every year for the past 10 years, the Minnesota Center for the Book organizes the Minnesota Book Awards to acknowledge the work of authors who live and work in the state. This year, more than 70 books in 18 categories were nominated from more than 200 titles ranging from novels to anthologies to children's books. The books represent a vast range of style and substance; it would be tough to choose between, say, Horsepower: The Wonder of Draft Horses by Cris Peterson and Alvis Upitis (nominated in the "children's nonfiction" category) and David Housewright's Practice to Deceive (in the "mystery and detective" category). But the brave judges of the John T. Flanagan Award must do just that. This year's winner, Paul Gruchow's book of nature writing about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, was a unanimous hit with the judges, says Katie Weiblen, head of the Minneapolis Public Library's literature department and one of four judges for this year's prize. "I think it's because it had this Minnesota voice and it spoke to the culture of our natural history and the beauty of the land," she says. Gruchow teaches at Concordia College in Moorhead, farms in Northfield, and is the author of five other books.