Literary Arts News, Writers

Announcing the 2020 Oregon Book Award Finalists

We are thrilled to announce the thirty-five books from across the state that have been chosen as finalists for the 2020 Oregon Book Awards. Finalists were selected by a panel of out-of-state writers in seven categories: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, general nonfiction, children’s literature, young adult literature, and graphic literature. Winners in each category will be announced in a special broadcast on OPB Radio at 7:00 p.m. on June 22, 2020, and each receive a $1,000 cash prize.

KEN KESEY AWARD FOR FICTION  
Judges: Natashia Deón, Brandon Hobson, Rick Moody

  • Kesha Ajose Fisher of Portland, No God like the Mother (Inkwater Press)
  • Kimberly King Parsons of Portland, Black Light: Stories (Vintage)
  • Peter Rock of Portland, The Night Swimmers (Soho Press)
  • Karen Thompson Walker of Portland, The Dreamers (Random House)
  • Gabriel Urza of Hood River, The White Death: An Illusion (Nouvella)

STAFFORD/HALL AWARD FOR POETRY
Judges: Megan Fernandes, Nick Flynn, Marcus Wicker 

  • Carl Adamshick of Portland, Birches (Four Way Books)
  • Shaindel Beers of Pendleton, Secure Your Own Mask (White Pine Press)
  • Lynn Otto of Newberg, Real Daughter (Unicorn Press)
  • Allan Peterson of Ashland, This Luminous (Panhandler Books)
  • Ashley Toliver of Portland, Spectra (Coffee House Press)

FRANCES FULLER VICTOR AWARD FOR GENERAL NONFICTION 
Judges: Amy Bhatt, Thor Hanson, Sophfronia Scott 

  • Carol Barrett of Bend, Pansies (Sonder Press)  
  • George Estreich of Corvallis, Fables and Futures: Biotechnology, Disability, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves (MIT Press)
  • Barry Lopez of Finn Rock, Horizon (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • David Wolman and Julian Smith of Portland,Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World’s Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West (William Morrow)

SARAH WINNEMUCCA AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION 
Judges:  Lacy M. Johnson, Nishta J. Mehra, Rob Spillman

  • Beth Alvarado of Bend, Anxious Attachments (Autumn House Press)
  • Debra Gwartney of Finn Rock, I am a Stranger Here Myself(University of New Mexico Press)
  • Rebecca Lawton of Summer Lake, The Oasis This Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West (Torrey House Press)
  • Liz Prato of Portland, Volcanoes, Palm Trees, and Privilege: Essays on Hawai’i (Overcup Press)
  • Wendy Willis of Portland, These Are Strange Times, My Dear: Field Notes from the Republic (Counterpoint)

ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
Judges: Pablo Cartaya, Amy Pattee, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

  • Cathy Camper of Portland, Lowriders Blast from the Past (Chronicle Books)
  • Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, Carter Reads the Newspaper (Peachtree Publishing Company)
  • Jody J. Little of Portland, Mostly the Honest Truth (Harper Collins)
  • Rosanne Parry of Portland, A Wolf Called Wander (Greenwillow Books)
  • Rebecca Stefoff of Portland, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE 
Judges: Susan Campbell Bartoletti, David Gill, Traci L. Jones

  • Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, How I Became A Spy: A Mystery of WWII London (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • April Henry of Portland, The Lonely Dead(Henry Holt & Company)
  • Connie King Leonard of Milwaukie, Sleeping in My Jeans (Ooligan Press)
  • Rosanne Parry of Portland, Last of the Name(Carolrhoda Books)
  • Nancy Richardson Fischer of Hood River, When Elephants Fly (Harper Collins/ Inkyard Press)

AWARD FOR GRAPHIC LITERATURE
Judges:  Adrienne Celt, Jason Lutes, MariNaomi

  • Cat Farris of Portland, My Boyfriend is a Bear (Oni Press)
  • Maria Capelle Frantz of Portland, The Chancellor and the Citadel (Iron Circus Comics)
  • Greg Means and MK Reed of Portland, Penny Nichols (Top Shelf Productions)
  • Dylan Meconis of Portland, Queen of the Sea (Walker Books)
  • Aron Nels Steinke of Portland, Mystery Club (Mr. Wolf’s Class #2) (Graphix)

These three additional special awards recognize significant contributions to Oregon’s literary culture. These individuals and organizations were nominated by community members and selected by the Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships Advisory Council.

Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award Reading Results of Portland

The Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award 
Write Around Portland of Portland

Charles Erskine Scott Wood Distinguished Writer Award Lawson Fusao Inada of Ashland


Congratulations to all of the finalists! Due to the ongoing public health crisis, the Oregon Book Awards cannot take place in person, however finalists will be celebrated and winners will be announced on OPB radio at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 22.