The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) is a non-profit association of independent bookstores from five Northwest states, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. 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. NWBL 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 2020 for a 2021 award. We posted previews of some of the committee’s enthusiasms here and here 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 this Friday, January 15.
Meet the Winners!
The 2021 honorees:
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance
Donna Barba Higuera (Issaquah, WA)
“Lupe Wong is half-Chinese, half-Mexican, opinionated, and determined to get straight A’s in order to meet her baseball hero. What she is not is a dancer. So when she finds out that square dancing is the next unit in gym class, potentially foiling her plans, she makes it her mission to put a stop to it. The results are hysterical and unexpected. Higuera hits a home run with her debut middle grade novel full of humor and heart.”
This Is My America
Kim Johnson (Eugene, OR)
Random House Books for Young Readers
“Tracy Beaumont is a fighter for justice:
for her father on death row
for her brother, accused of murder
for her friends and neighbors
The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir
E.J. Koh (Seattle, WA)
Tin House Books (paperback releases January 19, 2021)
“A box of tear-stained letters written in Korean leads a young woman on a complicated family odyssey to understand why she and her brother were left in California as teens while their parents returned home for work. This challenging memoir unearths four generations of trauma, crossing borders between Korea, Japan and America in exquisite poetry and prose, ultimately revealing that love takes many forms.”
Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Vancouver, BC)
Del Rey / Penguin Random House
“Shirley Jackson meets ‘Get Out’ in this atmospheric slow-burner that will linger in your mind’s shadowy corners long after you’ve departed the haunting High Place.”
Tina Ontiveros (Hood River, OR)
Oregon State University Press
“This raw story of cyclical poverty is a very real look at coming up in small logging communities of the Pacific Northwest. As Ontiveros tells stories of her father Loyd, a charming, ill-tempered logger battling addiction and other demons, you can’t help feeling for this family and falling deeply into this story. They both stick with you long after you close the book.”
Aiden Thomas (Portland, OR)
Swoon Reads / Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan
“Seeking acknowledgement from his family, sixteen-year-old Yadriel, a gay, transgender brujo, performs a ritual that will not only prove who he is but will uncover his cousin’s killer. Only, things go awry, and he instead summons the spirit of resident bad boy, Julian, who will not move on until he settles his own unfinished business. Thomas weaves a spellbinding story in this rich, multicultural narrative full of intrigue and adventure, alive with the joy of community, identity, friendship, and love.”
Don’t forget to register to celebrate with the authors and other booklovers for the virtual event on Zoom February 10 at 6:00.