Eight works with Indiana connections are winners of the 2020 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards. Today’s announcement unveils the updated awards’ inaugural class of honorees, which includes a New York Times bestseller and a Lambda Literary Award finalist as well as authors who have won or been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book and National Book Critics Circle awards.
Chosen from among 35 shortlisted works in eight categories, the winning submissions were written by a diverse collection of authors who all have deep connections to Indiana. Whimsical and serious, funny and haunting, the winning works address pressing topics such as race and immigration, as well as addiction and family drama.
The award-winning books are:
Children’s: Attucks! Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City, by Phillip Hoose
Drama: The Jack Plays, by James Still
Emerging: Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back, by Melissa Stephenson
Fiction: The Life List of Adrian Mandrick, by Chris White
Genre: Pimp My Airship, by Maurice Broaddus
Nonfiction: The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay
Poetry: Sightseer in This Killing City, by Eugene Gloria
Young Adult: All the Things We Do in the Dark, by Saundra Mitchell
(Additional descriptions of the books and authors appear below.)
Designed by Indiana Humanities with support from Glick Philanthropies, the Indiana Authors Awards are issued every other year. In between award years, starting in 2021, honorees will have the opportunity to participate in a statewide tour to connect with readers, teachers and students. Tomorrow, a Literary Champion Award winner will be named to honor an individual’s or organization’s contributions to Indiana’s literary community.
“Indiana has a rich literary tradition, and this class of Indiana Authors Award winners shows that the legacy is alive and growing,” said Indiana Humanities President and CEO Keira Amstutz. “We are honored to partner with Glick Philanthropies to raise awareness about these books not only in Indiana, but among readers across the nation. “
Each winner will receive $5,000, a hand-crafted limestone award and the opportunity to make a $500 donation to an Indiana library of their choice. A short video featuring interviews with all of the authors debuted online today. In addition, Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations (IPBS) has produced radio and TV spots about each winner, as part of a partnership with the Indiana Authors Awards.
“By creating the Indiana Authors Awards, my parents sought not only to honor authors for significant works, but also to champion Indiana literature to a wider audience,” said Marianne Glick, chair of the Glick Family Foundation and daughter of Eugene and Marilyn Glick. “These winners represent the diversity of literature created in Indiana—from the people who create it to the stories brought to life, they reflect Indiana’s literary abundance.”
The winning works are:
Attucks! Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City, by Phillip Hoose. Attucks! tells the true story of the all-Black Crispus Attucks High School basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indiana. By winning the 1955 state championship, 10 teens – including eventual college and NBA star Oscar Robertson – shattered the myth of Black inferiority. Hoose is a widely acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs and articles, including the National Book Award-winning Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Having grown up in South Bend, Angola and Speedway, Hoose is a graduate of Indiana University and Yale University. For 37 years, he served as a staff member of The Nature Conservancy, dedicated to preserving the plants, animals and natural communities of the Earth. More at http://www.philliphoose.com/.
The Jack Plays, by James Still. A series of three plays featuring members of the same family, The Jack Plays take readers from a family Thanksgiving in Vermont, to the streets of Venice, to the inner workings of the CIA in Yemen. Across these geographies, Still brings complex, detailed characters to life, exploring family, love, loss, grief and healing. With 20 seasons as playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Still is a four-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. A resident of Los Angeles, he has written works staged in a variety of theaters, including April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream (Indiana Repertory Theatre); The Widow Lincoln and The Heavens Are Hung in Black (Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.); I Love to Eat (Portland Center Stage); Looking Over the President’s Shoulder at theatres across the country; and And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank at theatres around the world. A five-time Emmy nominee, Still received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival and the Todd McNerney National Playwriting Prize from the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. More at https://www.dramaticpublishing.com/authors/profile/view/url/james-still.
(Defined as a book written by an early-career Indiana author)
Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back, by Melissa Stephenson. Driven is a memoir about the road to hope told through the series of cars that carried Stephenson along life’s road. From a lineage of secondhand family cars of the late ’60s, to the Honda that got her from Montana to Texas as a new marriage disintegrated, to the ’70s Ford she drove away from her brother’s house after he took his life, to the VW van she now uses to take her kids camping, these cars have reliably driven her away from grief and toward hope. With a B.A. in English from The University of Montana and an M.F.A. in fiction from Texas State University, Stephenson has been published in several publications, including The Washington Post, The Rumpus, Ms. Magazine and Narratively. Driven was longlisted for the Chautauqua Book Prize and selected for Target’s Discover New Writers program. Though born and raised in Columbus, Melissa now lives in Missoula, Mont. with her two kids. More at https://melissa-stephenson.squarespace.com/.
The Life List of Adrian Mandrick, by Chris White. A pill-popping anesthesiologist and avid birder embarks on a quest to find the extremely rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker only to become stranded in the thick swamplands of Florida’s panhandle. There he confronts past and present failures, the cost of his obsessions and what’s truly important in life. Although White is a widely performed and award-winning playwright and screenwriter (as well as an actor and vocalist), The Life List of Adrian Mandrick is her first novel. Since 2002, she has taught creative writing at DePauw University, where she specializes in upper-level workshops in playwriting and screenwriting and courses in dramatic literature. At work on her second novel, White lives with her family along Big Walnut Creek in Bainbridge, Ind. More at https://www.chriswhitewriter.com.
Pimp My Airship, by Maurice Broaddus. Indianapolis is recast as a steampunk, sci-fi landscape in Broaddus’ work where themes of power, racism and mass incarceration of people of color are explored. The fast-paced adventure through an alternative Indy follows an unlikely trio of Black compatriots into a battle for control of the nation and the soul of their people. Born in London, England, Broaddus has lived most of his life in Indianapolis. Describing himself an “accidental teacher” (at the Oaks Academy Middle School in Indianapolis), an “accidental librarian” (the school library manager as part of the Indianapolis Public Library Shared System) and a purposeful community organizer (resident Afrofuturist at the Kheprw Institute), Broaddus has seen his work appear in a variety of publications, including Lightspeed Magazine, Weird Tales, Asimov’s and Uncanny Magazine. He is the author, collaborator and editor of numerous novels and novellas, including the urban fantasy trilogy The Knights of Breton Court, the middle-grade detective novel series The Usual Suspects, Buffalo Soldier, Bleed with Me and Devil’s Marionette. AMC Networks recently announced plans to adapt his novel Sorcerers for broadcast. More at www.mauricebroaddus.com.
The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay. A collection of essays written over the course of a tumultuous year, The Book of Delights reminds readers of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling and celebrating ordinary wonders. A New York Times best-seller and product of a commitment to write daily essays about life’s simple delights, the essays in The Book of Delights are funny, philosophical and moving. Embracing the inherent beauty of the natural world and the small human actions that create community, the book also addresses the enduring complexities of life, including the terrors of living in America as a Black man. Gay is the author of four books of poetry, the winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His new book-length poem, Be Holding, a love song to legendary basketball player Julius Erving (Dr. J), comes out Sept. 8. Gay teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington. More at http://rossgay.net/.
Sightseer in This Killing City, by Eugene Gloria. Set in the aftermath of presidential elections in the U.S. and Philippines, Sightseer in This Killing City is an argument for grace and perseverance in an era of bombast and bullies. The John Rabb Emison Professor of Creative and Performing Arts and English Professor at DePauw University, Gloria is the author of three other books of poems: My Favorite Warlord (Penguin, 2012; winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award), Hoodlum Birds (Penguin, 2006) and Drivers at the Short-Time Motel (Penguin, 2000; a National Poetry Series selection and recipient of the Asian American Literary Award). More at https://eugenegloria.com/.
All the Things We Do in the Dark, by Saundra Mitchell. Told through the eyes of a teenage girl, All the Things We Do in the Dark addresses challenging issues affecting young people – including rape, PTSD, mental health and victim blaming – and the many ways people work through trauma. It is a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Mitchell, a Greenwood, Ind.-based author of young-adult novels, anthologies and nonfiction series who has seen more than 400 of her screenplays produced as films in conjunction with Dreaming Tree Films. During her career that includes time as a phone psychic, car salesperson, denture-deliverer and layout waxer, Mitchell says she has dodged trains, endured basic training and hitchhiked from Montana to California. Her 20 books for tweens and teens include Edgar Nominee Shadowed Summer, The Vespertine series and the Camp Murderface series with co-author Josh Berk. She’s also the editor of three anthologies for teens, Defy the Dark, All Out and Out Now. More at http://saundramitchell.com/.
For more information on the Indiana Authors Awards, visit indianaauthorsawards.org. Author photos, book cover images and full author bios can be found in the online newsroom.