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Originally published Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:01 AM

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Lit Life

The envelope, please: Washington State Book Award Winners

This year's Washington State Book Award winners include Jonathan Evison's "All About Lulu"; Barbara Brotherton's "S'abadeb: The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Arts and Artists" and Robert Clark's "Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces."

Seattle Times book editor

Lit life

There are beaucoup prizes and awards in the literary world, bringing to mind one of your correspondent's favorite theories: that a profession awards prizes in inverse proportion to its economic payback. (Do investment bankers and drug lords get prizes? As Randy Newman sings: "I could be wrong now, but I don't think so!") It can be hard to sort out which ones are authentic guideposts to good reading.

Today a raft of prizes was announced that should enlighten Washington readers looking for a good book: The Washington State Book Awards. Sponsored by the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library, 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.

Enough throat clearing! Here are the winners:

Fiction: "All About Lulu" by Jonathan Evison of Bainbridge Island (Soft Skull Press). A novel about obsessive love, sibling relations and bodybuilding, in which the narrator falls in love with his stepsister, who keeps changing beyond all recognition.

Poetry: "A Map of the Night" by David Wagoner of Edmonds (University of Illinois Press). Wagoner, a professor emeritus at the University of Washington, looks back at his life through the poems in this collection.

History/biography: "Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces" by Robert Clark of Seattle (Doubleday). A masterful narrative of the 1966 flood that devastated Florence, Italy, and the heroic efforts by volunteers from all over the world to save the city's treasure trove of art.

General nonfiction: "S'abadeb: The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Arts and Artists" edited by Barbara Brotherton of Seattle (Seattle Art Museum/University of Washington Press). A compendium of Coast Salish culture through its artistry, oral traditions, and history — developed in conjunction with a Seattle Art Museum exhibition of the art and culture of the Coast Salish peoples of Washington state and British Columbia. Brotherton is curator of Native American Art at the museum.

Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award, given to both a picture book and a middle-grade book:

For a picture book: "What To Do About Alice?" by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, who is from Seattle (Scholastic Press). The story of Teddy Roosevelt's high-spirited daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt.

For a book for middle grades and young adults (10- to 18-year-old readers): "Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster in the Antarctic, 1910-13" by Richard Farr of Seattle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The story of Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated second expedition to the Antarctic.

Congratulations to the winners, who will pick up their awards at an Oct. 14 ceremony. For a complete list of the winners and finalists in each category, go to the library's Web site at www.spl.org.

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Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or mgwinn@

seattletimes.com.

Mary Ann Gwinn appears on Classical KING-FM's Arts Channel at www.king.org/

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