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Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Night for Notables

Authors write books for many reasons, but only the foolish or misguided write to win awards. I've read a dozen books this year that I admire, and a dozen more deserving of special recognition. So many great books, so few ways to honor them.

Which is why it's such a thrill to receive one of those honors. Tonight, the Library of Michigan threw a party for this year's winners of the 2010 Michigan Notable Books awards. Among the 20 books receiving recognition were two National Book award finalists, a finalist for this year's Pulitzer Prize in history, many other fabulous books -- and Annie's Ghosts. Yes, I basked in their reflections.

Bonnie Jo Campbell and David Small, the National Book Award finalists, gave the keynote speeches -- Bonnie chose to question herself ("Bonnie, I can't believe you ask that question") about her powerful collection of short stories, American Salvage, and David talked about the challenge of creating a memoir of his tortured childhood through the medium of a graphic novel.

The Notable Book selection committee looks every year at between 300 and 400 books, from all genres -- fiction, nonfiction, photographic and children's books -- before narrowing their choices down to 20. The winners are invited by participating public libraries to give talks about their books. I spoke a few days ago at the Royal Oak Public Library just north of Detroit, and I'm speaking next month at the libraries in Springfield Township (in Davisburg), Grand Rapids and Morenci (on the Michigan-Ohio border). For a list of times and places, there's an up-to-date list on the News and Events page of my website,

I'm a big fan of this award, and not just because I'm lucky enough to have won one. By providing authors with space on their shelves, and a public space to tell our stories, libraries create a lasting audience for our work.

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