Fall books by Minnesota writers and publishers are rolling out, and what a season! It's been a while since so many award-winning, high-profile women authors have published at one time. Just look: Kate DiCamillo, Louise Erdrich (two books), Kathleen Glasgow, Linda Grover LeGarde, Jess Lourey, Laura Childs, Anne Ursu, Wendy Webb and Sarah Stonich. Not that the men haven't been busy — Bill Meissner, Stan Trollip, Christopher Valen and posthumous work from Jon Hassler and Anthony Scaduto.
Here's a first look at their fiction and nonfiction, and there is sure to be more as we head into the last months of 2021.
OLAV AUDUNSSON, "Providence" — Second in the Nobel Prize-winning author's epic four volumes of medieval Norway in a new English translation by Tiina Nunnally, the first in nearly a century, published by University of Minnesota Press.
KATE DICAMILLO, "The Beatryce Prophecy" — Set in medieval times of war, two-time Newbery award-winner DiCamillo's story is about a mysterious child who appears in a monastery. Found by gentle Brother Edik, the girl is racked with fever, coated in blood and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. Brother Edik uncovers the girl's dangerous secret and imperils them all because the king of the land seeks just such a girl and Brother Edik knows why. Illustrated by two-time Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall.
CATHERINE DANG, "Nice Girls" — Dark debut that explores the hungry, angry, dark side of girlhood and asks what is most dangerous to a woman, showing the world what it wants to see, or who she really is?
KATHLEEN GLASGOW, "You'd Be Home Now" — From the bestselling author of "Girl in Pieces" we're introduced to Emory (nicknamed Emmy), who's been told all her life who she is — great-great granddaughter of the mill's founder, sister of hot Maddie at school, Will's younger sister, and babysitter for her stoner older brother Joey. Everything is turned on its head when she and Joey are in a car accident that kills a girl and reveals just how bad Joey's drug habit was. Four months later everyone is still telling Emmy who she is. But so much has changed, can she be the same person? And Emmy is beginning to see that people are more than they appear.
LINDA LEGARDE GROVER, "Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong" — Professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, author of several previous books including "The Road Back to Sweetgrass," interweaves family and Ojibwe history with stories from Misaabekong (the place of the giants) on Lake Superior. She tells of her ancestors' arrival at the American Fur Post in far western Duluth more than 200 years ago, their fortunes and the family's future entwined with tales of marriages to voyageurs, relocations to reservation lands and encounters with the spirits of the lake and wood creatures.
WILLIAM MEISSNER, "Light at the Edge of the Field" — Twenty-five short stories with baseball themes.
AJ ODASSO, "The Pursued and the Pursuing" — A reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," in which Jay Gatsby is not killed at the end but few people know it. He and Nick Carraway travel the world on Gatsby's remaining money and fall in love. Then Daisy reenters their lives, along with her daughter Pam, a bright 13-year-old with gender issues.
MABEL SEELEY, "The Chuckling Fingers" — Second repackaged and reissued book from Berkley Prime Crime (after "The Listening House") by a native Minnesotan known as the Mistress of Mystery in her day. This 1941 Mystery of the Year finds Ann Gay called to the aid of her cousin Jacqueline who has been blamed for a number of mysterious incidents within her marriage. Ann is soon in over her head, especially when someone in the inner circle of the remote Minnesota estate is found dead. Seeley, who died in 1991, was known for stories featuring ordinary, feisty, hard-working women.
SARAH STONICH, "Reeling: A Novel" — RayAnne, intrepid, accidental host of public television's first all-women fishing talk show, made her debut in the novel "Fishing!" Now she's traveling to New Zealand to launch her show's second season. With camera-wielding twins and her producer Cassi, RayAnne sets off across New Zealand in search of noteworthy women who fish. They meet a boat captain, a writer of historical suffragette fiction, a Maori octogenarian. Also along is the ghost of RayAnne's grandmother.
STANLEY TROLLIP, "Wolfman"— Trollip and his South African friend Michael Sears wrote seven mysteries featuring Botswana Detective Kubu and one thriller under the pen name Michael Stanley. Now Trollip goes it alone with a thriller set in the Duluth-Two Harbors area, featuring young television investigative reporter Crystal Nguyen. With a passion for environmental issues, Crystal does a report that goes viral when she suggests there may be someone, possibly part of the hunt-the-hunter movement, who is intent on going after poachers of the endangered gray wolf. She names the person Wolfman and her TV ratings soar. When a hunter is shot, Crystal is worried that her Wolfman idea has spawned a copycat and now she has to downplay the Wolfman idea and appeal to the copycat to stop the attacks.
REID FORGRAVE, "LOVE, ZAC: Small-Town Football and the Life and Death of an American Boy" — A timely book that tackles the questions parents are asking about long-term effects on youngsters who play football. Iowan Zac Easter took his life in 2015 at the age of 24. He suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder (CTE) after playing full contact football from third grade through high school. He suffered bouts of depression, substance abuse, anxiety and memory loss as well as physical ailments. In his memory his mother and girlfriend founded the CTE Hope Foundation to improve the technology to identify concussions and sports traumas. The author is a staff writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, formerly with Fox Sports and CBS Sports.
JON HASSLER, "Days Like Smoke: A Minnesota Boyhood" — Hassler, who died in 2008, was a much-loved Regents Professor Emeritus at St. John's University in Collegeville whose novels are about living in small towns such as "Staggerford," the title of his first book. "Days Like Smoke" is his previously unpublished memoir of his youth in rural Minnesota during the 1930s and '40s. Minnesota writer Will Weaver edited Hassler's unfinished manuscript and contributed a foreword that gives readers biographical information about Hassler and his empathy for the real residents and imagined characters of smalltown Minnesota.
JILLIAN PETESON/JAMES DENSLEY, "The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic" — Using data from the writers' groundbreaking research on mass shooters, including first-person accounts from the perpetrators, this book charts new pathways to prevention and innovative ways to stop these killings. Peterson is professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline University and faculty director of the Center for Justice and Law. Densley is professor of criminal justice and first university scholar at Metropolitan State University. Both live in St. Paul.
DANNY SPEWAK, "From the Gridiron to the Battlefield" — Subtitled "Minnesota's March to a College Football Title and Into World War II," this debut is based on the story of the 1941 University of Minnesota football team that finished undefeated 15 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was inspired by the author's grandfather, Jack, a member of the 1941 Gopher freshman team and Army Air Corps veteran. The author shares the struggles and triumphs of the Golden Gophers' national championship season as war hung over their heads. When the U.S. finally entered the fighting, every member of the team participated in the war effort. Spewak is a news reporter at KARE 11.
LAURA CHILDS, "Twisted Tea Christmas" — Childs' 23rd Tea Shop mystery finds Charleston, S.C., tea shop owner Theodosia Browning and her kind tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, catering a Victorian Christmas party hosted by one of the wealthiest women in town. She's gathered the cream of Charleston society to reveal how she is planning to give her wealth away. But before she can make the announcement, Theo finds the woman unconscious with a syringe in her neck. Childs is the pen name of Gerry Schmitt.
JESS LOUREY, "Litani" — Set in a small town named Litani, this sinister novel is Inspired by the Satanic Panic and supposed daycare sex rings of the 1980s, including the scandal and hysteria in Jordan, Minn. Young Frankie feels the darkness the town gives off, and overhears the locals discussing "the Game." Her mother warns her to say away from other adults and the woods. Soon darkness and mystery rise to the surface.
CHRISTOPHER VALEN, "The Price of Life" — In his eighth thriller featuring St. Paul homicide detective John Santana (after "Speak for the Dead"), Santana is pulled off the cold case investigation of a young woman's murder and into the lethal world of drug smuggling and sex-trafficking. Soon he sees a link between the two cases and a group of influential, wealthy men who belong to a secretive club. He's in a race against time to solve two murders and save a young woman's life. Valen is the pen name of Jerry Peterson.
ANNE URSU, "The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy" — This middle grade novel was chosen by Book Page as one of the most anticipated books of the fall, and Kirkus Reviews included it in 8 Middle Grade Books to Read This Fall. Marya, 12 years old, is sent to a remote school to be molded into a tool for the patriarchal society in which boys' magical potential is revered. Ursu's novel "The Lost Girl" was chosen by Publishers Weekly as the best middle grade book of 2019.
WENDY WEBB, "The Keepers of Metsan Valo" — The Queen of Northern Gothic takes us to Metsan Valo, Anni Haila's family home on Lake Superior. When her beloved grandmother dies, the extended family gathers, including Anni's twin brother and their almost-otherworldly mother. They are all unsettled and so are the surrounding woods and streams. When another tragedy strikes near home, Anni must discover the truth about her home, her family, and the wooded island's ancient lore, hoping to save her family from whatever bedevils Metsan Valo.
TESSA BRIDAL, "The Dark Side of Memory" — Born in Uruguay, Bridal chronicles the stories of those who were disappeared by the Uruguayan government, following the stories of families, their loss and their resilience. The book explores the multi-generational impact of the extremist military dictatorships in Uruguay and Argentina during the Cold War, as told to the author by the families of the disappeared.
MARGARET SHAW JOHNSON, "The Haunting of Potter's Field" — Subtitled "Mostly True Stories, Unearthed from the Grave," this poetic text is about a handful of people who were buried in the potter's field in Woodlawn Cemetery in Winona, Minn. Johnson pays homage to all the nameless, indigent men and women in unmarked graves everywhere through accounts such as one of a family that loses everything during the Depression but finds hope, and Chinese laundrymen who struggle to honor their deceased friend's life thousands of miles from home. The author is a retired Minnesota Third District judge; illustrations are by Jared Tuttle, a graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
TOM RADEMACHER, "Raising Ollie: How My Nonbinary Art-Nerd Kid Changed (Nearly) Everything I Know" — While 7-year-old Ollie, smart, nonbinary and needing intellectual stimulation thrives at a new school, his dad is adjusting to teaching at a new school that's whiter and more suburban than anywhere he has previously taught. He increasingly sees how his own educational struggles, anxieties, and childhood upbringing are reflected in his teaching, writing and parenting, as well as in Ollie's experience.
LOUISE ERDRICH, "The Sentence" — A small independent Minnesota bookstore (Erdrich owns Birchbark Books in Minneapolis) is haunted from All Souls' Day, November 2019, to All Souls' Day 2020 by the store's most annoying customer, Flora, a wanna-be Native American who dies and won't leave the store. Tookie, a Native American married to a former tribal cop, works in the store after 10 years of incarceration she survived by reading. She must solve the mystery of the haunting while trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation and reckoning, including George Floyd's murder. A look at what we owe to the living, the dead, the reader and the book. Erdrich won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Night Watchman."
TONI HALLEEN, "The Surrogate" — Debut novel about newly-married Ruth and Hal who hire a surrogate to carry their baby, and the unexpected consequences of their decision. They choose Cally, a healthy, attractive, 20-year-old with a lack of manners and sophistication. Set in the upper reaches of northern Minnesota in the middle of winter, the story follows Ruth and Hal and Cally and her boyfriend through hopes, expectations and changes of heart. The author, who graduated from University of Minnesota law school, previously worked as an employment law attorney.
GARY GOODMAN, "The Last Bookseller: A Life in the Rare Book Trade" — In the 1990s, the Twin Cities had nearly 50 second-hand bookshops. Today there are fewer than 10. Goodman, one of the area's premier used book sellers, first bought a dumpy shop that was going out of business on St. Paul's East Side. That was in 1982. In 1990 he and a couple of partners opened St. Croix Antiquarian Books in Stillwater, which closed in 2017. The internet changed the book business and Goodman details how, after 2000, stores like his were obsolete. He recalls his sometimes desperate, sometimes hilarious, career as a used and rare book dealer in Minnesota. The book's title says it all.
CAROLYN HOLBROOK/ DAVID MURA, "We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World" — Edited by Holbrook and Mura, this is a gathering of voices about the American experience of this past year and beyond. Essays and poems are by authors with international reputations as well as newly emerging voices. Most have contributed to "More Than a Single Story," a conversation series in Minneapolis that features Indigenous and people of color speaking on what most concerns their communities.
ANTHONY SCADUTO, "The Dylan Tapes; Friends, Players, and Lovers Talkin' Early Bob Dylan," edited by Stephanie Trudeau — The raw material and interviews behind the late Scaduto's 1971 biography of Dylan draw an intimate and multifaceted portrait of the singer-songwriter who defined his era. Compiled from 36 hours of interviews on reel to-reel tapes found in a box in Scaduto's basement.
"A NATURAL CURIOSITY; THE STORY OF THE BELL MUSEUM," edited by Lansing Shepard, Don Luce, Barbara Coffin and Gwen Schagrin — A richly illustrated tour of Minnesota's premier natural history museum after 150 years, drawing on materials unearthed during the museum's recent move to its new building. Chronicles the discoveries, moments and personalities that have made the museum what it is today.
MARION DANE BAUER, "The Animals Speak" — Newbery Honor Award-winner tells the legend of how all the animals in the world, at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, are given speech to honor the Christ Child. Illustrated by Brittany Baugus. (Publication date: Oct. 5)
JAN BRETT, "The Nutcracker" — It wouldn't be Christmas without a new take on the magical story of a girl and her nutcracker Prince. Brett sets the familiar story in snowy Russia, based on her travels to Saint Petersburg. (Nov. 2)
JONATHAN BALCOMBE, "Jake and Ava, A Boy and a Fish" — From Emilie Buchwald's Gryphon Press, dedicated to human-animal connections, comes the story of Jake. On a fishing trip with his grandfather, he makes a crucial decision when he meets Ava, an archerfish, face-to-face on the line. "The illustrations (by Rebecca Evans) feature the vivid Australian flora and fauna where the story is set," Buchwald says. "The tale offers young children age-appropriate insight into the fact that fishes feel pain, have familial relations, and value their lives just as we do." The author is a biologist with a doctorate in the study of animal behavior. (Oct. 19)
LOUISE ERDRICH, "Grandmother's Pigeon" — Grandmother has always been mysterious, and when she hitches a ride to Greenland on a passing porpoise she leaves behind a clutch of bird's eggs that hatch to reveal they are passenger pigeons, a species long thought extinct. Jim LaMarche's illustrations and Erdrich's storytelling create a tale seen through the eyes of a curious grandchild. First published in hardcover by Hyperion in 1996, reissued by University of Minnesota Press. (September)
LAURA PURDIE SALAS, "If You Want to Knit Some Mittens" — The crafty but impatient narrator collaborates with her "helpful" sheep to create something functional and beautiful. A playful ode to being a maker that celebrates the joys of creativity, friendship and hand-knitted goodies. Illustrated by Angela Matteson. (Oct. 26)
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