30th NEMBA Winners

The 30th annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards were held on May 24, 2018. The Thursday evening festivities began with a book fair, wine/beer cash bar, and refreshment reception at the lovely Northland Country Club from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and continued with the awards presentation at 6:30. The celebration's featured speaker was author William Kent Krueger, author of the New York Times best-selling Cork O'Connor mystery series, which is set in the great north woods of Minnesota. 

This event was free and open to the public. 

Nominations were accepted in six categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) Art, Photography, (4) Children's Literature, (5) Memoir, and (6) Nonfiction. Reading teams chose a winner and an honorable mention in each category except Art, Photography. With only one nominee, we were unable to award an honorable mention or winner in this category. The winners each received a $200 cash prize. The winning author and the honorable mention received a beveled glass award as well as 100 NEMBA book seals.

NOTE: Nominations for the 31st NEMBA, honoring books published in 2018, will be accepted beginning November 1, 2018.

Listed below are the honorable mention and winners in each category with descriptions written by the reading teams:

family trees

Winner in Fiction

Family Trees

by Dean Hovey
published by Moose Town Press

Family Trees is new book in the Pine County mystery series, featuring the return of a familiar detective, who investigates a cold case as well as other recent criminal activity. This compelling page turner intertwines the rich history of the area with contemporary societal issues relevant to Northeast Minnesota.


going coastal

Honorable Mention in Fiction   

Going Coastal

by Lake Superior Writers
published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

The stories in Going Coastal are all deeply personal, and reflect the Lake as a source of beginnings and endings—a source of inspiration, loss, and renewal. The anthology contains a variety of very different stories, touching us in many ways, and connecting us to the power of Lake Superior.


Now Here, book cover

Winner in Poetry


by Crystal Spring Gibbins
published by Holy Cow! Press

Living on Lake of the Woods and the South Shore of Lake Superior obviously inspired Gibbins. Her poetry comes riddled with interesting arrangements, peppered with unique descriptions and metaphor, including nostalgic outdoor imagery and small town vignettes. The cover is loaded with meaning and a stark representation of the simple beauty in this area.



Blue Window, book cover
Honorable Mention in Poetry 

Blue Window: Poems by Deborah Gordon Cooper

by Deborah Gordon Cooper
published by Clover Valley Press

At an artists' retreat in Ireland, Deborah Gordon Cooper looked out from the loft of a stone cottage through a blue-framed window as she crafted a number of poems that would ultimately comprise Blue Window. With an extraordinary flair for deftly crafted expression that evokes emotion in the reader, Blue Window impressively showcases free verse poetry by a true master of the format. It is a rich collection of poetry for anyone seeking discussion and expression.


Winner in Children's Literature

Grandpa Allan's Sugar Shack

grandpa alan's sugar shack

by Alan Page, Kamie Page
illustrated by David Geister
published by Page Education Foundation

When Alan and Kamie Page's young narrator notices that her syrup's ingredients don't sound like they came from trees, her grandfather remembers making his own maple syrup as a youth--traditions she convinces him to pass on to her.  David Geister's illustrations perfectly capture the narrator's excited impatience as she waits for the sap to boil, her delight as she tastes the first spoonful, and the two characters' joy in spending a snowy spring day together in the woods.


Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

Dead Man's Rapids
Dead Man's Rapids, book cover

by William Durbin, Barbara Durbin
published by University of Minnesota Press

In a wonderful tribute to Minnesota logging history, William and Barbara Durbin tell the adventures of a boy discovering the challenges and the humor of an 1899 log drive. Throughout the story, and in the informative afterword, readers learn such logging lore as "larding up" to keep warm and details about the everyday dangers that the log crews faced. This immersive taste of Minnesota's past is a treat for all ages.


Winner in Memoir
Onigamiising, book cover

Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year

by Linda LeGarde Grover
published by University of Minnesota Press

In a rich collection of personal essays, Linda LeGarde Grover guides readers through the seasons of Onigamiising [ah-ni-ga-MAY-sing] (Ojibwe for Duluth) as well as life. She invites readers into her experience through writing that is approachable, engaging, and enlightening.  Arranged by season, readers can trace how Ojibwe traditions endure and evolve through time and space. LeGarde Grover welcomes readers to look at northeastern Minnesota with new eyes and appreciation.


Honorable Mention in Memoir

deep woods

Deep Woods, Wild Waters: A Memoir

by Douglas Wood
published by University of Minnesota Press

In his pensive memoir, Douglas Wood navigates readers via canoe to untouched land and waterways in the Northwoods of Minnesota and Canada. Through his detailed descriptions Wood demonstrates how to slow down racing thoughts and commune with the present moment, in addition to meditating on the cumulative effects of the past. Arcing over the discussion of various canoe trips is the evolution of Wood's life and how choices have changed the direction of his life.

Winner in Nonfiction

duluth's historic parks

Duluth's Historic Parks: Their First 160 Years 

by Nancy S. Nelson, Tony Dierckins
published by Zenith City Press

Duluth is fortunate to have an amazing park system. This book looks at how the early pioneers and public leaders worked to make this happen.  Over the years these parks have helped make the unique history of Duluth. This beautiful book has over 300 historical sketches, lithographs and photographs covering wonderful parks in the city of Duluth.


Honorable Mention in Nonfiction

flames of discontent

Flames of Discontent: the 1916 Minnesota Iron Ore Strike

by Gary Kaunonen
published by University of Minnesota Press

Our NEMBA non-fiction honorable mention relates the enthralling story of the roots of unionism in the Minnesota iron ore mines and is an important piece of our region's history. Gary Kaunonen gives voice to the strike's organizers and mine workers through previously untapped accounts from immigrant press newspapers, company letters, personal journals, and oral histories.


winner seal  honorable mention book seal 
NEMBA Book Seals now available!


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416 Library Drive
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and the Friends of the Duluth Public Library