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2021 Oregon Book Award Finalists in Creative Nonfiction

The 2021 Oregon Book Award winners will be announced on May 2, 2021, on a special episode of The Archive Project, airing on OPB Radio at 7:00 p.m. The hour-long show will be hosted by Omar El Akkad and Elena Passarello, and will feature readings from Oregon Book Awards winners, archival audio from previous Oregon Book Awards ceremonies, and an interview with CES Wood recipient Molly Gloss. You can watch the 2021 Oregon Book Award finalists in Creative Nonfiction, recorded April 23, on our You Tube channel:

Here are the 2021 finalists for Sarah Winnemucca Award in Creative Nonfiction

Tracing the Desire Line follows a writer’s journey of opening her marriage with her husband. The story—told through short memoirs, essays, lists, and letters—is an intimate inquiry into one woman’s search for autonomy with detours into meditations on music, motherhood, religion, love, and wildness. 

Melissa Matthewson‘s essays have appeared in GuernicaAmerican Literary Review, the Rumpus, and Longreads, among others. Her work has earned an AWP Intro Journals award and has been listed as notable in Best American Essays.

Ground Truth is an extended eulogy to a rapidly changing land and a portrait of a population awakening to the realities of logging, climate change, land-use, and pollution. Part natural history, part memoir-in-essays, this collection is a moving portrait of the forces and landscapes that have shaped a region.

Ruby McConnell is an environmental geologist and activist and the author of the critically-acclaimed outdoor series A Woman’s and Girl’s Guides to the Wild, and Ground Truth: A Geological Survey of a Life. 

Denali: A Man, a Dog, and the Friendship of a Lifetime is a memoir chronicling his friendship with his late dog Denali and their shared adventures on the road. Denali saw Ben through heartbreak and a cancer diagnosis, and was at his side as he built a successful career as an adventure photographer and filmmaker.

Ben Moon is a photographer, author and filmmaker who enjoys bringing impactful stories to life. Ben has lived in Oregon for over two decades and currently resides in Pacific City with his dog Nori, near the same beaches where he shared time with his late dog Denali, who was the subject of a viral short film and Ben’s recent memoir of the same name.

Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country is a work of literary journalism about an Arikara woman, Lissa Yellow Bird, and her search for a white oil worker who went missing in 2012 from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Crane Murdoch spent eight years investigating the case and immersing herself in Yellow Bird’s life, ultimately producing a deep examination of the legacy of violence inflicted on a tribal nation and a tale of extraordinary healing.

Sierra Crane Murdoch’s journalism and essays have appeared on This American Life and in Harper’sThe New Yorker online, The Atlantic, and VQR. She has held fellowships at UC Berkeley and MacDowell.  

Thieve by Joe Wilkins

Living in Paris for a winter and a spring and waking each morning to a view of Notre Dame, David Oates is led to revise his life story from one of trudging and occasional woe into one punctuated by nourishing and sometimes unsettling brilliance. In The Mountains of Paris, he invites readers to share a sense of awe—whether awakened by a Vermeer painting or a wilderness sojourn, by the night sky, a loved one, or echoing strains of music—lifting the curtain on a cosmos filled with a terrifying yet beautiful rightness.

David Oates is the author of two books of poetry and four works of nonfiction, including Paradise Wild and City Limits. His essays have appeared in Georgia Review, Creative Nonfiction, and Orion. He was Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Montana and is founder and general editor of Kelson Books in Portland. 

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