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Originally published September 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 26, 2008 at 10:52 AM

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Washington State Book Award winners

Books winning this year's Washington State Book Awards include a sci-fi thriller by Matt Ruff, poetry by state poet laureate Samuel Green, a new history of native Seattle by Coll Thrush, a history of dirt by David R. Montgomery, a picture book about a rabbit by George Shannon and an autobiographical novel by Sherman Alexie about growing up on an Indian reservation.

Seattle Times book editor

Winners of this year's Washington State Book Awards include a novel about a wayward young woman who may or may not be manipulated by a secret band of evil mind-controllers, poetry by the state's poet laureate, a new history of native Seattle, a book about dirt and its role in the decline of civilizations and an autobiographical novel for young adults about growing up on an Indian reservation.

The Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library announced the winners last week. The awards go to outstanding Washington authors for books published the previous year; "Washington author" is defined as a current resident of the state who has lived here for at least three years, or someone who was born here.

Winners will pick up their awards at an Oct. 22 ceremony. The winning titles are:

"Bad Monkeys" By Matt Ruff (HarperCollins)

This science-fiction thriller by a Seattle author is the story of Jane Charlotte, a young woman who tells her increasingly surreal tale of murder, kidnapping and an evil tribe of "bad monkeys" who are trying to control her actions to a skeptical psychiatrist.

Finalists in the fiction category: "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan, "Male of the Species" by Alex Mindt, "Strange as This Weather Has Been" by Ann Pancake, "Fish Grooming and Other Stories" by Joseph Powell.

"The Grace of Necessity"

By Samuel Green (Carnegie Mellon University Press)

Poetry by the state's newest poet laureate, a resident of Waldron Island in the San Juans.

Finalists in the poetry category: "Mars Being Red" by Marvin Bell, "Red Studio" by Mary Cornish, "What's Written on the Body" by Peter Pereira.

"Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place" By Coll Thrush (University of Washington Press)

This history by a professor at the University of British Columbia examines the presence of Native Americans in Seattle both before white contact and after natives became part and parcel of the city's life, and includes an "Atlas of Indigenous Seattle." Thrush grew up in Auburn.

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Finalists in the history/biography category: "Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign" by Michael Honey, and "Lionel H. Pries, Architect, Artist, Educator: from Arts and Crafts to Modern Architecture" by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner.

"Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations" By David R. Montgomery (University of California Press)

"Dirt" traces how, throughout history, soil degradation has led to the demise of civilizations. Montgomery, a University of Washington professor, learned this month that he also has won a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant.

Finalists in the general nonfiction category: "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School" by Kathleen Flinn; "Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen" by Lesley Hazleton; "The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster and the Water We Drink" by Robert D. Morris; "Sky Time in Grays River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place" by Robert Michael Pyle.

The winners of the Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award are, for a picture book: "Rabbit's Gift" by Bainbridge Island author George Shannon, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Harcourt) and for middle grades and young adults: "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Seattle author Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Ellen Forney (Little, Brown). Last fall, "Absolutely True Diary" won the National Book Award in the young readers category.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or mgwinn@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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