Literature

Cast Your Vote for the 2021 Reading the West Book Awards

Kali Fajardo-Anstine will host the online awards ceremony for Reading the West 2021.
Kali Fajardo-Anstine will host the online awards ceremony for Reading the West 2021. Estevan Ruiz

The Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association announced the 31st Annual Reading the West Book Awards shortlists in nine award categories this week — and they’re inviting the titular readers to take part in the decision process. Member booksellers and the reading public are both encouraged to vote for their favorite titles in each category at readingthewest.com through May 15.

Award winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, at a live virtual event hosted by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, winner of last year’s Reading the West Book Award for Fiction for her stratospheric-hit short-story collection Sabrina & Corina. The ceremony is being presented for the first time online, and is free and open to the public; register now at the MPIBA website.

The winning authors and their books will be celebrated by independent bookstores across the mountains and plains region and beyond, with in-store displays, newsletter stories, website and social media posts, and customer events. The awards, given to books published in the previous calendar year, celebrate the spirit of the West and the rich variety of writing in and about this region, and reflect the extraordinary diversity of the reading public.

The shortlists, presented in no particular order, are as follows:


FICTION
Telephone, Percival Everett, Graywolf Press
The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones, Gallery/Saga Press
All God's Children, Aaron Gwyn, Europa Editions
Barn 8, Deb Olin Unferth, Graywolf Press
Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse, Gallery/Saga Press

DEBUT FICTION
Nights When Nothing Happened, Simon Han, Riverhead Books
Above Us the Milky Way, Fowzia Karimi, Deep Vellum Publishing
All Things Left Wild, James Wade, Blackstone Publishing
Winter Counts, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Ecco
Valentine, Elizabeth Wetmore, Harper

POETRY
Guillotine: Poems, Eduardo C. Corral, Graywolf Press
When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, Joy Harjo (editor), W. W. Norton & Company
The Death of Sitting Bear: New and Selected Poems, N. Scott Momaday, Harper
Postcolonial Love Poem: Poems, Natalie Diaz, Graywolf Press
Anodyne, Khadijah Queen, Tin House Books

NARRATIVE NONFICTION
Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West, Justin Farrell, Princeton University Press
Half Broke: A Memoir, Ginger Gaffney, W. W. Norton & Company
The Reign of Wolf 21: The Saga of Yellowstone's Legendary Druid Pack, Rick McIntyre, Greystone Books
Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land, N. Scott Momaday, Harper
The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West, Megan Kate Nelson, Scribner


ILLUSTRATED NONFICTION
Our Wild Tails, Cynthia Bennett, Gibbs Smith
Cross Country: A 3,700-Mile Run to Explore Unseen America, Rickey Gates, Chronicle Books
Colorado's Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks, Jeri Norgren, John Fielder Publishing
Wild Horses of the West, Jan Drake, Gibbs Smith
Through a Native Lens: American Indian Photography, Nicole Strathman, University of Oklahoma Press

YOUNG ADULT
Forget This Ever Happened, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Holiday House
I'll Be the One, Lyla Lee, Katherine Tegan Books
Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger, Levine Querido
Tigers, Not Daughters, Samantha Mabry, Algonquin Young Readers
Everything Sad Is Untrue, Daniel Nayeri, Levine Querido

YOUNG READERS (MIDDLE GRADE)
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, Fleur Bradley, Viking Books for Young Readers
Santiago's Road Home, Alexandra Diaz, S&S/Paula Wiseman Books
96 Miles, J. L. Esplin, Starscape
The Elephant's Girl, Celesta Rimington, Crown Books for Young Readers
Desert Diary, Michael O. Tunnell, Charlesbridge

PICTURE BOOKS
Cow Boy is NOT a Cowboy, Gregory Barrington, HarperCollins
The Old Truck, Jerome & Jarrett Pumphrey, Norton Young Readers
On Account of the Gum, Adam Rex, Chronicle Books
Simon at the Art Museum, Christina Soontornvat, Atheneum BYR
Green on Green, Dianne White & Felicita Sala, Beach Lane Books

EATING THE WEST (COOKBOOKS & CULINARY WRITING)
Taste of Tucson: Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona, Jackie Alpers, West Margin Press
Chicano Eats, Esteban Castillo, Harper Design
Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food, Gina Rae La Cerva, Greystone Books
The Mexican Home Kitchen: Traditional Home-Style Recipes That Capture the Flavors and Memories of Mexico, Mely Martinez, Rock Point
The Little Local Southwest Cookbook: Recipes for Classic Dishes, Marilyn Noble, Countryman Press

For more information on the Reading the West awards, and to cast your vote for your favorite in each category, visit the Reading the West website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen