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37 books named to Indiana Authors Awards shortlists

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From Indiana Humanities:

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 10, 2020) – The 2020 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards announce the shortlist of books eligible for top honors in its seven literary categories. Thirty-seven books written by Indiana authors and published in 2018 and 2019 have been shortlisted for the awards, which will be announced on Sept. 1.

Shortlisted books were written by lifelong Hoosiers, professors at Indiana colleges and universities, former residents and others with a deep connection to Indiana. They feature stories about life in Indiana, nature and interesting people. At turns whimsical and serious, funny and haunting, shortlist honorees address pressing topics such as race, immigration, teen pregnancy and suicide, as well as otherworldly fare such as fairies, airships and voodoo.

The shortlists are part of the new format for the prestigious awards, designed by Indiana Humanities with support from Glick Philanthropies. Awards are now made every other year. In between award years, starting in 2021, local honorees will have the opportunity to participate in a statewide tour to connect with readers, teachers and students.

Judges for the Indiana Authors Awards included former winners, writers, educators, scholars, local bookstore owners and librarians. Judges chose to shortlist books in the following categories: children’s, young adult, poetry, genre, emerging, nonfiction and fiction. Book winners will be announced on Sept. 1 at 11 a.m. via a Facebook Live Premiere Event, and on Instagram and Twitter and via an email to subscribers at 11:10 a.m. Follow @INAuthorsAwards and sign up at to receive the announcement. A Literary Champion—an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to Indiana’s literary community—will be announced on Sept. 2 at the same time and via the same channels.

Each category winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, a hand-crafted limestone award and the opportunity to make a $500 donation to an Indiana library of their choice.

“It is exciting to see so many authors recognized for their contributions to Indiana literature,” said Marianne Glick, chair of the Glick Family Foundation and dauther of Eugene and Marilyn Glick. “They both honor and build on a rich tradition, and I am confident that every Hoosier and every book club in Indiana can find a number of books on these lists that they will enjoy reading and discussing.”

Shortlisted books in each category are listed below.


  • Brian Allen Carr, Franklin, for Opioid, Indiana, which follows a teen transplant to impoverished rural Indiana who searches for a job, the whereabouts of his drug-addicted guardian and the realities of modern America.
  • Bryan Furuness, Indianapolis and a Butler University professor for Do Not Go On, a novel that’s part crime confessional and part coming-of-age tale and involves the Witness Protection Program, college application process and more.
  • Brian Leung, Lafayette and a Purdue University professor, for Ivy vs Dogg: With a Cast of Thousands!, about a small-town election, judgmental town committee, teenage pregnancy, and … giant topiary.
  • Michael Martone, who was born in Fort Wayne and now lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, The Moon Over Wapakoneta: Fictions and Science Fictions from Indiana and Beyond, a collection of stories that showcase a love of obsolete technologies, small-town whimsy, home movies of proms and birthday parties, steam engines and baseball games.
  • Chris White, Bainbridge, and a DePauw University professor, for The Life List of Adrian Mandrick, about a pill-popping anesthesiologist and avid birder who embarks on a quest to find one of the world’s rarest species, allowing nothing to get in his way … until he’s confronted with his obsessions and what they’ve cost him.


  • Axton Betz-Hamilton, who grew up in Jay County and now lives in Brookings, South Dakota, for The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity, a true-crime memoir that tells her family’s shocking story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family.
  • Robert Blaemire, who grew up in Hammond, Indiana, and now lives in Bethesda, Maryland, for Birch Bayh, which reveals the life and career of the U.S. senator from Indiana from 1963 to 1981 and his impact on such issues as civil rights and equal rights for women.
  • Ross Gay, Bloomington and an IU professor, for The Book of Delights, a collection of essays, written over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling and celebrating ordinary wonders.
  • Nancy Kriplen, Indianapolis, for Irwin Miller, which tells the life story of the remarkable man who led Cummins Engine Company from its roots as a small, family business to an international Fortune 500 company and transformed Columbus, Indiana, into a gem of midcentury modern architecture.
  • Bill Sullivan, an Indiana University School of Medicine professor who studies genetics and infectious diseases, for Pleased to Meet Me: Genes, Germs, and the Curious Forces that Make Us Who We Are, which translates cutting-edge science into practical insights.
  • Melissa Stephenson, who grew up in Columbus, Indiana, and lives in Missoula, Montana, for Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back, her memoir about the road to hope following the death of her troubled brother, told through the series of cars that accompanied her.


  • Maurice Broaddus, an Indianapolis writer, educator and community organizer, for Pimp My Airship, a steampunk, sci-fi adventure through an alternative future of Indianapolis.
  • Sofi Keren, Indianapolis, for Painted Over, in which two former friends, artist Paige and soccer-star Ria, reunite and find romance.
  • Nate Powell, Bloomington resident and National Book Award-winning illustrator of March, for the graphic novel Come Again, a haunting, supernatural tale of intimacy, guilt and collective amnesia.
  • Larry Sweazy, Noblesville, a freelance indexer and prolific author of dozens of award-winning westerns and mysteries, for See Also Proof: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery.

EMERGING (Defined as a book written by an early-career Indiana author)

  • Katie Hesterman, Fort Wayne, for A Round of Robins, a collection of sixteen plucky, playful poems that takes the reader on a journey through the nesting cycle of a pair of robins.
  • Sofi Keren, Indianapolis, for Painted Over, in which two former friends, artist Paige and soccer-star Ria, reunite and find romance.
  • Robin Lee Lovelace, Plainfield, for her novella Savonne, Not Vonny, which follows young Savonne on her journey from Indianapolis to the bayous of New Orleans through a mix of rural magic and urban realism.
  • Chantel Massey, an Indianapolis poet, author and teaching artist, for Bursting at the Seams: A Collection of Poetry exploring the experiences of a Black woman coming of age in the Midwest.
  • Melissa Stephenson, who grew up in Columbus, Indiana, and lives in Missoula, Montana, for Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back, her memoir about the road to hope following the death of her troubled brother, told through the series of cars that accompanied her.
  • Annie Sullivan, Indianapolis, for Tiger Queen, a fantasy featuring the adventures of a woman-warrior in an exciting retelling of the classic short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”


  • Lindsey Alexander, Bloomington, for Rodeo in Reverse, a poetry collection woven from bits of Americana: married life, art history, pioneers, witches and more.
  • Callista Buchen, Franklin, for Look Look Look a collection of prose poems exploring motherhood with honesty, in all its beauty and realities.
  • Eugene Gloria, Greencastle, for Sightseer in this Killing City, which is set in the aftermath of presidential elections in the U.S. and Philippines and is an argument for grace and perseverance in an era of bombast and bullies.
  • Debra Kang Dean, Bloomington, for Totem: America her fifth collection of poetry and a meditation on grief and grievance in contemporary America.
  • Kevin McKelvey, a University of Indianapolis faculty member, for Dream Wilderness Poems, a collection that draws from Indiana’s environmental history, particularly the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area in Monroe County.
  • Shari Wagner, former Indiana Poet Laureate and Westfield resident, for The Farm Wife’s Almanac, in which the farm wife emerges as a prophetic voice from America’s heartland speaking to the many changes that threaten to uproot all that she loves.


  • Sharon Biggs Waller, Chesterton, for Girls on the Verge, which deals with teen pregnancy and a woman’s right to choose.
  • Saundra Mitchell, Greenwood, for All the Things We Do in the Dark, a dark, emotional thriller and Lambda Literary Award finalist that addresses challenging issues affecting young people as they come of age and how individuals work through trauma


  • Crystal Allen, who grew up on a farm near New Albany and now lives in Texas, for The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Mya in the Middle, which chronicles the hilarious hijinks of a Black 4th grader trying to stand out from the crowd.
  • John David Anderson, Indianapolis, for Granted, the tale of a fairy on her first wish-granting day.
  • Gabrielle Balkan, who grew up in Indianapolis and now lives in Brooklyn, for her Book of Flight, a beautifully illustrated book that highlights birds, animals and insects and explains how they fly.
  • Skila Brown, Bloomington, for Clackety Track: Poems About Trains, a charming book of poems about trains.
  • Troy Cummings, Greencastle, for Can I Be Your Dog?, a sweet tale of a dog trying to find a forever home.
  • Helen Frost, Fort Wayne, for Hello, I’m Here!, the story of a newborn sandhill crane starting out in the world.
  • Michael Homoya, Shane Gibson and Gillian Harris, of central and southern Indiana, for Wake Up, Woods, a gorgeously illustrated book of Indiana wildflowers and native plants.
  • Phillip Hoose, who was born in South Bend and spent his childhood in Angola and Speedway, for Attucks! Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City, which tells the true story of the all-black Crispus Attucks High School basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indiana.

For more information on the Indiana Authors Awards, visit

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About the Indiana Authors Awards

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards honor the best books written by Indiana authors. Awarded every two years, they celebrate Indiana writers, shine a light on the Hoosier state’s literary community and deepen connections between Indiana writers and readers. They were established in 2009 as a vision of Eugene and Marilyn Glick and are a new component of Indiana Humanities’ rich and diverse literary programming.

About Indiana Humanities

Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage people to think, read and talk. Learn more at

Contact information:

Kristen Fuhs Wells, Vice President, Indiana Humanities