The Chicago Review of Books Awards

November 16, 2016


This one’s going out to those of you who may have wondered why all the major book awards seems to come from places other than Chicago.  Considering the breadth and depth of the literary landscape here, it’s a bit shocking that we have so few awards to name off the top of our heads.  Introducing the Chicago Review of Books Awards.  As they say on their website about the awards:

“. . . the Chicago Review of Books—in partnership with Chicago’s independent bookstores—wants to recognize Chicagoland authors and help them reach more bookshelves across the city, the country, and the world.

This fall, the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards (‘Chirbys,’ for short) will celebrate the best books published in 2016 by writers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.”

They go on to mention that the winners in each category will be announced live on December 8 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park, at a free public awards ceremony and book signing that will feature panel conversations between some of the authors in each category about their books, writing process, and Chicago inspirations.

So what are the books up for contention that you should know?  Here’s the full list (with special notes on which of the authors live or work in Evanston):

Best Fiction

Jesse Ball, How to Set a Fire and Why

Wesley Chu, Time Siege

Gina Frangello, Every Kind of Wanting

Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers

Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers

Christine Sneed, The Virginity of Famous Men: Stories (<— She lives in Evanston!)

Best Creative Nonfiction

Chris Abani, The Face: Cartography of the Void (<— Mr. Abani is a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University)

Ethan Michaeli, The Defender

Natalie Y. Moore, The South Side

Toni Nealie, The Miles Between Me

Mary Wisniewski, Algren: A Life

Zoe Zolbrod, The Telling (<— Lives in Evanston!)

Best Poetry

Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall, 1989: The Number

Tony Fitzpatrick, The Secret Birds

Phillip B. Williams, Thief in the Interior

Abigail Zimmer, child in a winter house brightening

Best Debut

Kim Brooks, The Houseguest

Jessica Chiarella, And Again

Maryse Meijer, Heartbreaker: Stories

Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning

Martin Seay, The Mirror Thief

T. Sean Steele, Tacky Goblin


Somewhat disappointingly there is no children’s or YA category yet, but I’ve confidence that that will have to change in the future.  In the meantime, enjoy the books and stay tuned for the winners!


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