Hengst: ‘Best of the best’ chosen

“This was another outstanding year for books by Ohio writers and books about Ohio and Ohioans. We receive 800-1,000 traditionally published books each year, which are eligible for the book awards. All books are screened by a small committee who determine the finalists for the awards and a final selection committee chooses the winners. Their decisions were difficult but they chose the best of the best.”  – Linda Hengst


2012 marks its seventy-first anniversary of the oldest and most prestigious literary prizes in the Buckeye State, the Ohioana Book Awards, which are given every year to recognize and honor outstanding books published the previous year by authors who were born in Ohio or who have lived in Ohio for at least five years, the exception being a book about Ohio or an Ohioan.

      An opening reception on Friday, October 26 begins at 6:00 pm with an array of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, followed by the presentation of the awards and an informal roundtable discussion at the Ohio Statehouse Museum Gallery. The public is invited and reservations are required by calling the Ohioana Library at 614.466.3831, or email Ohioana@Ohioana.org or www.ohioana.org.  Admission is $40 per person.

      The awardees are: Fiction: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Nonfiction: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean; Poetry: Weather: Poems by Dave Lucas; Juvenile: Where Do You Stay? by Andrea Cheng; Young Adult: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson; About Ohio/Ohioan: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the  Murder of a President by Candice Millard; and the Ohioana Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant: (awarded to an unpublished author under the age of thirty) will be presented to Sarah Menkedick.

The Abouts

     The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is the story of a Midwestern boy and girl, Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson, who met, fell in love, married, and moved to Paris.  Through Hadley’s eyes we see a young sensitive man who blossoms into one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century. 

     McLain says, “I first came to know Hadley in the pages of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s remarkable memoir of his years in Paris. His reminiscences of Hadley were so moving that I decided to seek out biographies of her life—and that’s when I knew that I’d found something special. Her voice and the arc of her life were riveting. She’s the perfect person to show us a side of Hemingway we’ve never seen before—tender, vulnerable, and very human—but she’s also an extraordinary person in her own right.” 

     A California native, McLain received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. She is the author of two collections of poetry, as well as a memoir and novel. She has numerous fellowships and awards including a MacDowell Colony fellowship, grants from Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, and in September 2011 she received the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature. McLain and her family live in Cleveland Heights.

     New York Times best-selling author and The New Yorker staff writer, Susan Orlean says of herself, “I am the product of a happy and relatively uneventful childhood in Cleveland, Ohio.” The seeds for Susan’s book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, were planted in her childhood by the Rin Tin Tin figurine on her grandfather’s desk. Years later when she learn that Rin Tin Tin was a real dog with an amazing life, she was drawn to his story.

     Rin Tin Tin was found by a young American soldier on a battlefield during World War I as a puppy. The soldier took the puppy home where he was able to draw the attention of Warner Bros. During the following ten years, Rinty starred in twenty-three blockbuster films that saved the studio from bankruptcy.   He and his descendants transitioned from silent films to talkies and from radio to television. The story that began on a battlefield developed into an enduring bond between humans and animals. Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend also follows the history of twentieth-century entertainment and entrepreneurship.

      Orlean is the author of seven other books including Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation. Susan has been hailed as a “national treasure” by The Washington Post.   

     Weather: Poems by Dave Lucas is his debut collection, captures the changing seasons and landscapes of Cleveland, his hometown. The poems in this collection give us an enchanting and majestic, yet realistic and earthy view of the Erie lakefront, steel mills, and suburbs of Northeast Ohio. 

     Lucas was born and grew up in Cleveland. He graduated with a BA in English from John Carroll University and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia. He also received an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan where he is currently working toward his PhD.  He is the co-founder and co-director of the popular Market Garden Brewery Reading Series in Cleveland.

     Dave has received great praise from fellow poets. Rita Dove, Akron native and Poet Laureate of the United States 1993-95, included him on her “Young Poets to Watch” list. Mark Strand, Poet Laureate of the United States 1990-91, writes, “He is an extraordinarily gifted young poet. In fact, I know of no other poet of his age who is his equal. His poems combine acute observation with a subtle command of the cadences of American verse, creating for the reader a verbal world of astonishing clarity and inescapable harmony.” 

     Where Do You Stay? by Andrea Cheng, grew up in Cincinnati with three generations of her extended family living under one roof. She is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who spoke both Hungarian and English at home.  Andrea is the author of eighteen award-winning books for children and young adults.  Her books including Grandfather Counts, Marika, The Key Collection, Honeysuckle House, Where the Steps Were, The Bear Makers, and Brushing Mom’s Hair. Marika was the title selected for the Cincinnati’s 2003 “On the Same Page” community reading program. Andrea teaches English as a Second Language and Children’s Literature at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

     Where Do You Stay? is the story of eleven year old Jerome who is staying with his aunt after the death of his mother. Jerome misses his old house with the piano in the front room and the garden out back, and his cousins aren’t happy about making space for him. Then Jerome meets Mr. Willie, who is not like other people.  He does not ask a lot of questions; he just listens. The two have much in common, and they become friends. Like many of her stories, Where Do You Stay? is a collage of people and events in Andrea’s life.

     The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is her first novel, sets the stage for the forthcoming books in her trilogy.  Readers meet Elisa, the younger of two princesses, who as yet has not done anything remarkable in her life. Elisa learns she is the chosen one; the one person in the century to achieve greatness.  Publishers Weekly’s starred review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns raved, “A smart, complex fantasy with stellar characters… Carson’s mature writing style, thoughtful storytelling, appealing characters and surprising twists add up to a page-turner with broad appeal.” This book was on the 2011 ALA’s Top Ten Fiction for Young Adults list. 

Rae Carson grew up in California and earned a BA in Social Science from Biola University in La Mirada, CA. In 2004, Rae joined the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror where she found her calling, met her future best friends, and her future husband. After going on three real-life dates, Rae moved to Columbus, Ohio to marry C.C. Finlay. 

     Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard is about James A. Garfield, who became the 20th President of the United States in 1880.

     Though Garfield was born of humble beginnings on a farm in Orange Township, Ohio; he was one of the most amazing men to serve as an American President. Our country’s history might be very different if Garfield had not been shot by an unstable office seeker only four months into his Presidency. It was not the bullets that killed Garfield but the bitter behind the scenes political power struggle and disastrous, archaic, and unsanitary medical care he received. The book documents this tragic event, as well as the heroic efforts of Alexander Graham Bell who worked around the clock to develop a device capable of finding the bullet.

     Author Millard is an Ohio native, grew up in Lexington, Ohio, but moved to Kansas before her senior year in high school.  She received a BA from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas and earned her Master’s in literature from Baylor University. She is a former writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. Destiny of the Republic is her second book.

Note: James A. Garfield’s home, a thirty-room mansion known as Lawnfield, is located in Mentor, Ohio and it is now preserved as the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. More information can be found at http://www.nps.gov/jaga.

     The Ohioana Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant goes to Sarah Menkedick, who was born in Cincinnati and move to Columbus at age nine. She graduated from Grandview Heights High School in 2000.  In 2004, Sarah earned a BA in History and History of Science from the University of Wisconsin and spent her junior year abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France. Since leaving Wisconsin, she has had extensive international travel and work experience.

     Currently, Sarah is working toward her MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh and plans to graduate in the spring of 2013. While studying at the University of Pittsburgh she has served as an editorial intern for Harper’s Magazine and the Editor- in-Chief for Glimpse.org a program for young writers who are living, studying, or working aboard.


Published by on September 2012. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Storybook Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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