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Award Winners

Winners from Prior Years

2017 Awards for Books Published in 2016

WINNER: Desiree Cooper, “Know the Mother,” Wayne State University Press.  (Author lives in Southfield, Mich.)
HONOREES: Louise Erdrich, “LaRose,” Harper. (Author lives in Loring Station, Minn.)
Margaret Luongo, “History of Art: Stories,” Louisiana State University Press. (Author lives in Oxford, Ohio.)
Darryl Pinckney, “Black Deutschland,” Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Author is an Indianapolis native and now lives in New York.)

The judges for Adult Fiction were Stephen Sposato, David MacLean and Eckhard Gerdes.

WINNER: Ethan Michaeli, “The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America,” 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Author lives in Chicago.)
HONOREES: Katherine Zoepf, “Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World,” Penguin Press. (Author is a former Cincinnati resident who now lives in New York.)
Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher, “One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine,” Simon & Schuster. (Authors live in Milwaukee.)
Natalie Y. Moore, “The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation,” St. Martin’s Press. (Author lives in Chicago.)

The judges for Adult Nonfiction were Susan Croce Kelly, Kim Hiltwein and Libby Hellmann.

WINNER: Mary Wisniewski, “Algren: A Life,” 
Chicago Review Press. (Author lives in Chicago.)
HONOREES: Ken Ilgunas, “Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland,” Blue Rider Press. (The author is a former Benedict, Neb., resident who lives near Greensboro, N.C.)
Todd Mayfield (with Travis Atria), “Traveling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield,” Chicago Review Press. (Mayfield lives in Chicago.)
Donna Solecka Urbikas, “My Sister’s Mother: A Memoir of War, Exile and Stalin’s Siberia,” University of Wisconsin Press. (Author lives in Chicago.)

The judges for Biography & Memoir were Bob Remer, Jerry Apps and Ronne Hartfield.

WINNER: Pete Hautman, “The Forgetting Machine,” 
Simon & Schuster. (Author lives in Golden Valley, Minn.)
HONOREE: Meg Fleming, “I Heart You,” Simon & Schuster. (Author is a former Fox River Grove, Ill., resident who lives in San Francisco.)

The judges for Children’s Fiction were Marlene Targ Brill, Patricia McKissack and Mary Losure.

WINNER: David L. Harrison, “Now You See Them, Now You Don’t,” 
Charlesbridge Publishing. (Author lives in Springfield, Mo.)
HONOREES: Jeff Gall and Micah Gall, “Buck O’Neil: Baseball’s Ambassador,” Truman State University Press. (Authors live in Missouri.)
April Pulley Sayre, “The Slowest Book Ever,” Boyds Mill Press. (Author lives in South Bend, Ind.)

The judges for Children’s Nonfiction were Pat Kummer, Andrea Warren and Suzanne Slade.

WINNER: Tyehimba Jess, “Olio,” 
Wave Books. (Author lives in Chicago.)
HONOREES: John Koethe, “The Swimmer,” Farrar Straus Giroux. (Author lives in Milwaukee.)
Vi Khi Nao, “The Old Philosopher,” NIghtboat Books. (Author lives in South Bend, Ind.)

The judges for Poetry were Rosina Neginsky, Jill Baumgaertner and Joshua Corey.

WINNER: Rick Kogan
, columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, author, and host of “After Hours” on WGN-AM radio.

The annual awards dinner will take place Tuesday, May 9, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan, 22nd floor, Chicago, which features a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and Millennium Park. A reception with cash bar begins at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and awards ceremony at 7 p.m.

The master of ceremonies will be Keir Graff, the executive editor of Booklist and co-host of Publishing Cocktails. Graff is the author of two middle-grade novels, including “The Matchstick Castle,” and novels for adults, most recently the thriller “The Price of Liberty.” He’s co-editor of “Montana Noir,” coming in September from Akashic Books.

Tickets are $75 each. Reservations can by made by PayPal or check at

The Society, founded in 1915 by a group of authors including Hamlin Garland, Harriet Monroe and Vachel Lindsay, has given out annual awards since 1957. The juried competition is open to authors who live in, were born in, or have strong ties to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin.

Notable winners have included Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Jane Smiley, Dempsey Travis, Leon Forrest, William Maxwell, Louise Erdrich, Scott Turow, Alex Kotlowitz, Aleksandar Hemon, Stuart Dybek and Roger Ebert.

This year’s winners will receive a $500 award and a recognition plaque. The coordinator of this year’s contest was Marlene Targ Brill. Since 2002, the Society has also hosted the presentation of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary and Dramatic Criticism at its banquet.

Winners from Prior Years

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