NEMBA Winners Announced

northeastern minnesota book awards table with banner, flowers and awards
May 19, 2017

NEMBA brought together writers, publishers, and readers to honor the best titles about Northeastern Minnesota published in 2016.

Winners of the 29th annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards were announced on Thursday, May 18, at a public celebration at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The program featured nature writer Larry Weber as speaker, and guests were treated to refreshments, a book fair, and a cash bar. The event was free and open to the public.

Awards were presented in six categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) Art, Photography, (4) Children's Literature, (5) Memoir, and (6) Nonfiction. The winner in each category received a $200 cash prize. 

The Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards were presented by UMD's Kathryn A. Martin Library and Friends of the Duluth Public Library, with support from Lake Superior Magazine, Lake Superior Writers, and UMD Stores. 



Wintering by Peter Geye, published by Alfred A. Knopf

This beautifully written book centers on an epic father-son journey into the vast northern wilderness in the dead of winter, but also tells a bigger story—of a divided family, a town’s complicated history, and a feud that spans generations. 


The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives by Linda LeGarde Grover, published by Red Mountain Press

Linda LeGarde Grover weaves together spiritual and personal stories in both Ojibwe and English. The intertwined accounts reflect the interconnectedness of the experiences, “a continuing song,” as Grover states on the last page. 

Art, Photography

Glensheen: The Official Guide to Duluth's Historic Congdon Estate by Tony Dierckins with photography by Dennis O'Hara, published by Zenith City Press

Numerous current and historic photographs guide the reader on a detailed tour of Minnesota's most famous mansion and estate grounds. The book tells the story of the Congdon family and how Chester Congdon built the fortune that financed this grand home on Lake Superior's North Shore. 

Children's Literature

One North Star: A Counting Book by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen and Beckie Prange, published by University of Minnesota Press

Through bog and marsh, along river and lake, across prairie and woods, readers count the creatures on foot or in flight, swimming or perching or taking root in exquisite illustrations created by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen, with text that provides fascinating facts on our state's ecosystem. 


Homemade: Finnish Rye, Feed Sack Fashion, and Other Simple Ingredients from My Life in Food by Beatrice Ojakangas, published by University of Minnesota Press

Beatrice, or "Peaches" in this narrative, recounts stories of her life, in chapters paired with recipes that mark important events and relationships. She uses humor and acquired wisdom in describing her youth growing up as part of a rural Finnish community, her college days, and the origins of her successful career as a cook, author and restauranteur. 


What Should A Clever Moose Eat? Natural History, Ecology, and the North Woods by John Pastor, published by Island Press

John Pastor offers a profound and intriguing glimpse into the biological history of our unique area of the world. He paints vistas of the complexity of life in the woods, bogs, and lakes of northern Minnesota, offering the experience of a biologist with the heart of a conservationist. 

Honorable Mention


The Tao of Nookomis by Thomas D. Peacock, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

This beautiful collection of stories explores various aspects of Native American life on tribal lands bordering Lake Superior. Sad and touching, yet hopeful, the mostly modern-day tales weave together recurring characters and themes throughout the book to create a tapestry of reservation life.


Meridian by Mark Maire, published by Codhill Press

Meridian is a poetic journey, encouraging readers to go within and to embrace the nuanced emotions and thoughts that we harbor. Maire leads readers into the mindful nature of marshes, rock cliffs, and blue skies. 

Art, Photography

In and Out of Context by Tim White with excerpts from 21 Northland writers, published by Tight Squeek Press

In Tim White’s first published book of photographs, he collaborates with 21 local poets, songwriters and prose artists to pair photographs and writings “in a mutual relation, like passers-by whose gazes meet.” White does a marvelous job of connecting Duluth writers and poets with photographs.  

Children's Literature

Storm's Coming! by Margi Preus, illustrated by David Geister, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

Take a step back in time and experience life at Split Rock Lighthouse through a child's eyes. Will Sophie reach Papa in time to alert him of the changing weather? And will the lighthouse be ready to guide nearby ships as the sky darkens and rain begins to fall?   


The Contemplative Paddler's Fireside Companion by Timothy McDonnell, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

This book will appeal to any paddler, wanderer, or dreamer with a love for the wild, particularly the canoe country of the Boundary Waters, Canada, and the Big Lake.                    


Jay Cooke State Park to Two Harbors: A Walking Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail by Ron Morton and Judy Gibbs, published by Rockflower Press

A Walking Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail is the perfect companion for exploring the natural beauty and history of the North Shore. Gibbs and Morton employ a subtle wit, extensive knowledge of flora and fauna, and attention to detail that will delight day-trippers and through-hikers alike. 

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NOTE: Nominations for the 30th NEMBA, honoring books published in 2017, will be accepted beginning November 1, 2017.