Luis Alberto Urrea was this year’s judge in General Nonfiction. Here are his comments:

The crop of books I was lucky enough to judge was extraordinary. I know judges often say “They were all winners,” but if I had my druthers, all five of these excellent finalists would have won. I made a selection of a worthy and brilliant book; however, if I could, I would also give the award to its peers.

Hiding Man by Tracy Daugherty: An astoundingly well researched and considered study of a sadly neglected master of American letters. This book is important on many levels–I had writers from all over the country mention it in causal conversation, asking if I had read it yet. It shows a broad scope of scholarship and a sure, steady hand in its narration. And it places Oregon’s literature on an international stage where it represents the writing and thought in the state with great honor. I am grateful for this book.

Strand by Bonnie Henderson:Beach combers, unite. Lovers of solitude, of the cool coasts, of fog and waves, lovers of fine science/nature reporting, this is the book for you. I would like to say to the author that her section about glass floats changed my life. I started to daydream about getting a float. I started looking on eBay. And then, suddenly, my father-in-law gave me a green Japanese glass float! I think of her whenever I see it.

Wild Beauty by John Laursen and Terry Toedtemeier: Exquisite. One of the most stunning books I have seen in years. Masterful and haunting. For anyone who loves the great Columbia River, this book is a perfect gift. The photography in it is priceless.

Wild Things by Donna Matrazzo: Simply lovely. The harbinger of a strong career to come. A personal encounter with the world, a woman’s eye, a fine prose voice. That she gave us this fine book via iUniverse shows the kind of strong spirit Oregon possesses.

Born Under a Bad Sky by Jeffrey St. Clair: This book has the mojo. As a fan of environmental/ nature writing, I often hunger for something new. Something…vital. This is it.

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