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Originally published Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 12:06 AM

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2014 Washington State Book Award winners announced

Daniel James Brown, David Laskin, Nicola Griffith and Ed Skoog are among the writers honored.

Seattle Times book editor


Lit life

This year’s Washington State Book Awards include a best-selling nonfiction book about the University of Washington crew team that won a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics; one writer’s investigation into his ancestors in Eastern Europe and the fate of their descendants; a novel based on the life of a seventh-century English saint; and poetry by a Seattle author.

The 2014 winners were announced Friday night at an event at the Seattle Public Library. The awards are sponsored by the Washington Center for the Book. Here’s the list:

History/general nonfiction:“The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Viking).Redmond author Brown resurrected the local saga of the University of Washington crew team that vanquished Hitler’s hand-picked group at the 1936 Olympics, re-creating a time, a place and an unforgettable cast of characters.

Finalists: “The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff: The Redemption of Herbert Niccolls Jr.” by Nancy Bartley; “The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America” by Langdon Cook; “Wolves in the Land of Salmon” by David Moskowitz.

Biography/memoir:“The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century” by David Laskin (Viking).Seattle author Laskin, who has now won the Washington State Book Award four times, traced three branches of his family from their home in Eastern Europe. One group emigrated to Israel, one found commercial success in America and one stayed put, suffering mightily at the hands of the Nazi regime.

Finalists: “Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story” by Peter Bagge; “Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin” by Nicole Hardy; and “Driving Home: An American Journey” by Jonathan Raban.

Fiction: “Hild” by Nicola Griffith(Farrar, Straus and Giroux).Seattle author Griffith, a Yorkshire native, found a few enigmatic lines written about the life of St. Hilda of Whitby, a seventh-century English saint. She started her story there, creating a vivid novel of a young woman who uses her smarts and instincts to become a seer for a king. It’s a luminous portrait of life in a forgotten time.

Finalists: “Temple Grove” by Scott Elliott; “Half as Happy” by Gregory Spatz; “We Live in Water” by Jess Walter; and “Wilderness” by Lance Weller.

Poetry: “Rough Day” by Ed Skoog (Copper Canyon Press). This is Seattle poet Skoog’s second poetry collection. Several poems were “composed on long walks in Washington, D.C. ... ‘Rough Day’ finds its essential unity in a fixation on American events and landscapes — from Yellowstone and New Orleans to Kansas and the Pacific Northwest,” says the publisher.

Finalists: “What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned” by Sherman Alexie; “Self-Storage” by Rebecca Hoogs; “Through the Second Skin” by Derek Sheffield; and “Pacific Walkers” by Nance van Winckel.

Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award:

Picture Book: “What Do You Do With an Idea?” by Seattle author Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (Compendium). The story of a brilliant idea and a child who brings it into the world.

Books for Early Readers (ages 6 to 8): “And Then, Story Starters” by Seattle author M.H. Clark(Compendium). A collection of 20 “story starters” designed to inspire readers to finish them in their own way.

Books for Middle Readers (ages 9-12): “The Sasquatch Escape” by Bainbridge Island author Suzanne Selfors (Little, Brown). A summer vacation becomes anything but boring for a young boy, when he discovers what appears to be a baby dragon and takes it to a very unusual animal hospital.

Books for Young Adults (ages 13 to 18): “Jumped In” by former North Bend resident Patrick Flores-Scott (Henry Holt). A teenager with a passion for the music of Nirvana and Sleater-Kinney is shaken out of his slacker mentality when his English teacher begins a slam poetry unit.

The authors of the eight award-winning books, as well as the illustrator of the picture book, will receive a $500 honorarium. The jury for the adult awards included Beth Blakesley, associate dean of libraries at Washington State University, Pullman; Stesha Brandon, program director, Town Hall Seattle; Kevin Craft, executive editor of Poetry Northwest and chairman of the English department at Everett Community College; and Jamil Zaidi of Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company.

The jury for the children’s book awards included Tom Brown, librarian at Laurelhurst Elementary; Judy Hobbs, a recently retired children’s book buyer at Third Place Books; and Carmine Rau, children’s librarian at Bainbridge Public Library.

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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