The winners for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Awards have been announced.
The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) is a non-profit association of independent bookstores from five Northwest states, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The Association produces educational and promotional events and materials for its members and offers literacy, free speech, and author promotional vehicles through its member stores.
Since 1965, the annual Book Awards have recognized such luminary figures in Northwest literature as Ivan Doig, Ursula K. Le Guin, David James Duncan, Cheryl Strayed, Molly Gloss, Brian Doyle, Chuck Palahniuk, and Pete Fromm. Many of these authors were honored by PNBA before they received national attention. A history of past winners of the Pacific Northwest Book Award can be viewed on the Book Awards homepage. Our page has coverage of books from past shortlists as well as announcements and essays from past award winners.
PNBA’s Awards Committee is comprised of nine volunteer booksellers from throughout our member region. This year’s Committee considered more than 400 nominated titles published during 2019 for a 2020 award. We posted a preview of some of the committee’s enthusiasms as well as the shortlist, which was announced in November.
Original essays by the winners will be published on this blog over the next several weeks, beginning Tuesday, January 14.
Local independent bookstores will host celebratory plaque presentations for each of the winning authors. Details will be shared on NWBL, promoted by host bookstores, and on author websites as plans emerge in the coming weeks.
The Death & Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story by Aaron Bobrow-Strain (Walla Walla, WA)
A deeply-researched narrative of one woman and her family who have fought to survive and to build a life straddling the United States-Mexico border for generations. While centered by the intimate, individual story of Aida, the book also explores U.S. immigration history, cycles of violence, and the complex realities of border policies in play on the ground.
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang (Seattle, WA)
Exhalation is a brilliant work by a brilliant writer. Amid all of the disquisitions on free will, artificial intelligence, and time travel, this collection of short stories is centrally concerned with the loves, pains, and joys that populate real life.
Is, Is Not: Poems by Tess Gallagher (Port Angeles, WA)
Is, Is Not is a luminous study of the interior, quiet spaces of life, and a study of moments and transitions—the glass before it is shattered, the step between living and dying. It is a collection of grief, joy, and most of all, deep wisdom.
My Heart written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken (Olympia, WA)
Have you ever considered your heart and all the amazing things it can do? The newest from Northwest favorite Corinna Luyken reminds us with every breathtaking turn of the page how our wondrous hearts love and hurt and mend, all to make us exactly who we are. Plus, look for a hidden heart in every spread!
Queen of the Sea written and illustrated by Dylan Meconis (Portland, OR)
Exiled royalty. Nuns with secrets. Life and death situations as inspired by the early years of Queen Elizabeth I. Island-raised, convent dwelling Margaret’s quite ordinary existence becomes complicated with the arrival of William—a boy her age and her first friend—and the dethroned Queen Eleanor, whose schemes of revenge will put all their lives in jeopardy. Meconis has crafted a gripping historical fantasy full of exquisite details that will have readers of all ages wanting more.
The Cassandra: A Novel by Sharma Shields (Spokane, WA)
Mildred Groves is a secretary for the Hanford Project who joins the war effort as a way to escape her overbearing mother. She’s always seen visions of the future and, like the eponymous mythical figure of the title, no one believes her. Shields writes with visceral detail about the Southeastern Washington landscape as well as the interior landscape of the mind. Her story blurs the line between prophecy and complicity, creating an intimate portrait of the costs and lasting effects of war and toxicity.
Congratulations to the authors and illustrators, and congratulations to their hometown bookstores! We look forward to seeing photos from all the celebrations.