Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA)

As of 2021 the Kathryn A. Martin Library at the University of Minnesota is no longer hosting or affiliated with the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA).  For current information about NEMBA, please visit:

Announcing the 32nd Annual NEMBA Winners!

In response to the restrictions posed by the pandemic, and the staffing and financial challenges faced by University of Minnesota Duluth and Kathryn A. Martin Library, we were unable to hold an in person awards event honoring the 32nd annual NEMBA nominees and winners. However, the contest continued, and it is our pleasure to announce the winners of the 32nd annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards. Awards are presented in five categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) Children's Literature, (4) Memoir, and (5) Nonfiction. The winner in each category will receive a $200 cash prize. The Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards are presented by UMD's Kathryn A. Martin Library and Friends of the Duluth Public Library. 

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

In the Night of Memory book cover

Winner in Fiction

In the Night of Memory
A Novel

by Linda LeGarde Grover
published by
 University of Minnesota Press

Grover’s book weaves a compelling story across generations of Native American women, creating an intimate narrative that helps readers understand both past and present history of the challenges and crises of Native American women.

Jack and the ghost book cover

Honorable Mention in Fiction   

Jack & the Ghost

written by Chan Poling, illustrated by Lucy Michell
published by
University of Minnesota Press

Jack and the Ghost shows us that while grief is hard, life is even harder. This beautifully illustrated book is a meditation on grief and loss. It reminds us not to let the ghosts of our past control our present.


Where Your House is Now - book cover

Winner in Poetry

Where Your House Is Now:
New and Selected Prose Poems

by Louis Jenkins
published by Nodin Press

In Where Your House Is Now, Jenkins makes his home where he finds himself—whether it be in memory, in the company of mosquitoes, or in northern Minnesota driving the backroads surrounded by tall pines and birches. With a folksy tone and unassuming language, Jenkins reminds his readers to pay attention and to observe what surrounds them daily. This collection is “a window, a porthole from which you could get a new view of the world.”


Hawks on High book cover

Honorable Mention in Poetry 

Hawks on High:
Everyday Miracles in a Hawk Ridge Season

by Phil Fitzpatrick, illustrated by Penny Perry
published by Savage Press

Phil Fitzpatrick’s poems are paired with Penny Perry’s intricate bird drawings in Hawks on High: Everyday Miracles in a Hawk Ridge Season, a collection that mirrors the movements of birdwatchers: zooming in and out, relaxing and tensing, animating and quieting. Fitzpatrick captures the novelty of the birds and their enduring existence as he nods to longtime birders and fumbles along with rookies scanning the skies in hopes of one good look at the feathers overhead.


Forever Sky book cover

Winner in Children's Literature

The Forever Sky

by Thomas Peacock
illustrated by Annette S. Lee

published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

Follow two brothers through their journey of discovering the night sky after the death of their grandmother. Learn the importance of the sky, constellations, and the northern lights through the stories of the boys’ family. Thomas Peacock delivers a beautiful story that teaches Ojibwe words, the importance of generational storytelling, and touches on astronomy. The illustrations by Annette S. Lee show constellations found in Minnesota’s sky and add to the story.


The Lost Forest book cover

Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

The Lost Forest

by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen
published by University of Minnesota Press

Can a forest really be lost? This story takes us back to 1882, when a team of surveyors were mapping land in northern Minnesota. As part of this survey, 144 acres was marked as a lake when it was in fact a forest. This historical account, filled with beautiful illustrations by Betsy Bowen and literary cameos of Minnesota’s flora and fauna, explores how the natural world perseveres in this “forgotten” place, and how a forest doesn’t need a map to know where to grow.


Tucker Lake Chronicle - book cover

Winner in Memoir

Tucker Lake Chronicle:
Thirteen Months in the North Woods

by Joan Crosby
published by Nodin Press

Joan Crosby and her husband Dick chronicle their journey moving from Minneapolis to a simple one room cabin on the outskirts of the Boundary Waters. Adapting to the demands of life off the grid, they share the struggles of everyday life from gathering water to chopping wood. Between the tasks of daily life, they tell stories of encounters with animals and nature but also showcase the unique community of Northern Minnesota they become a part of.

Rooted in Rocky Soil book cover

Honorable Mention in Memoir

Rooted in Rocky Soil:
A Mostly Peaceful Life Interrupted by Moments of Something Else Entirely

by Ray Thielbar, Rose Thielbar
published by Electric Moon Publishing

In Rooted in Rocky Soil, Ray and Rose Thielbar capture the essence of the North Woods. With lyrical writing, creative prose and poetry, the Thielbars display the soul of the Northland spirit interwoven with the challenges of life. This spirit is exemplified with stories of curious Northwoods critters, the tenacity of faith and the underpinning humor of steely strength. The Northland becomes the fabric of life, weaving together its magic, wonder and strength.

walking the old road  book cover

Winner in Nonfiction

Walking the Old Road:
A People's History of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe

by Staci Lola Drouillard
published by University of Minnesota Press

Walking the Old Road is a reminder that land that was meant to be for Grand Marais Anishinaabe families was complicatedly and simply removed from their ownership. Staci Lola Drouillard describes the history of a town that was thriving for many Anishinaabe families and the change that occurs over many years for the families.


Granfather's blood memories and unbroken spirit book cover

Honorable Mention in Nonfiction

Grandfather's Blood Memories and Unbroken Spirit

by Sharon Doolittle Shuck
published by Tarpaper Shack Press

Sharon Doolittle Shuck takes an oral history and the experiences of her grandfather, Frank Doolittle, and uses that oral history to gain the confidence and skills to write a book for lasting documentation. Sharon documented Frank Doolittle’s story with urgency to reinforce that, despite the episodes taking place many years ago, they still are relevant to today’s world: history trauma, abuse, and the fight to be free in a segregated world.


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


Presented by UMD's Kathryn A. Martin Library
416 Library Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

& the Friends of the Duluth Public Library