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Originally published Monday, April 22, 2013 at 5:00 AM

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Ivan Doig tops list of NW authors in the spotlight

Ivan Doig’s “Bartender’s Tale” was named one of the best historical novels of the past year by Booklist magazine. Also making news: business writer Kirsten Grind, mystery writer Earl Emerson and poet Lucia Perillo.

Seattle Times book editor

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Kirsten Grind's investigative reporting about WAMU's demise started out nobly enough. ... MORE
And none of the criminals running/ruining Wamu have paid any penalty, nor of course... MORE
Nothing will ever compare to Doig's all time best, "The Sea Runners" MORE


Lit Life

It’s spring — at least I’m pretty sure it is, because a hailstorm knocked the blossoms off my cherry tree and pummeled them into mush. A sure sign of the season in Seattle.

Another sure sign of spring: Awards season in the literary world cranks up. I’ve been collecting kudos and other news about local authors. Here we go:

Seattle author Ivan Doig’s “The Bartender’s Tale” has been named by Booklist magazine as one of the best historical novels published between April 2012 and April 2013. “The Bartender’s Tale” came in at No. 2, between Joyce Carol Oates’ “The Accursed” (No. 1) and Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies” (No. 3). Heady company! Doig also reports that nine of his previously published books (his “backlist”) will be published in e-book format this year. His new novel “Sweet Thunder” comes out in August.

Kirsten Grind’s nonfiction book “The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual — The Biggest Bank Failure in American History” has won an award from the organization Investigative Reporters and Editors for best investigative book published in 2012. Grind, who now works at The Wall Street Journal, started work on “The Lost Bank” as a reporter for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

North Bend mystery writer/retired firefighter Earl Emerson is the recipient of the Willo Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America’s Northwest chapter for lifetime achievement. The award is “based on strong ties to the Pacific Northwest and a distinguished body of work in mystery/true crime publishing,” according to the news release. Previous winners include Seattle writer J.A. Jance, Portland legal-thriller author Phillip Margolin and Seattle Mystery Bookshop founder Bill Farley.

Olympia poet Lucia Perillo is the winner of the Shelley Memorial Award, given by the Poetry Society of America. She shares the award with poet Martín Espada.

Moviemaker Todd Field has arranged to produce, co-write and direct “Beautiful Ruins,” the Jess Walter novel. Field previously directed “Little Children,” based on the Tom Perrotta novel, according to the movie website Indiewire.

Uber-librarian/book critic Nancy Pearl has recorded her first audiobook, the children’s classic “Isabella, the Star of the Story.” You can watch the book trailer on YouTube.

Finally, this week Seattle sees several appearances by Dav Pilkey, creator of the Captain Underpants series. This series is distinguished by being the most challenged book(s) in America, according to the American Library Association. (A challenge is defined as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness,” according to the ALA.) You can catch Pilkey at 5 p.m. Monday at Ballard’s Secret Garden Bookshop and 4 p.m. Tuesday at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.

What’s the second most-challenged book in America? None other than Seattle author Sherman Alexie’s semi-autobiographical young people’s novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Alexie was just on Bill Moyers’ “Moyers & Company,” which can be viewed online at

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's "Well Read," discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.

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