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FAW Book Reviews

What's New with Our Past Award Authors?

March, 2016

As most of you know, FAW gives annual awards to emerging authors who have published no more than three books. Here are some of these authors' works published since they received our recognition.

Dean Bakopoulus (2006 Winner)
Summerlong (Ecco, 2015) describes the sweltering heat one summer in a small Midwestern town during which a couple discover their marriage is not as solid as they thought. As the temperature climbs, both spouses grow more wild and reckless in humorous, biting situations.

Sara Gruen (2007 Winner)
In 1945, a foolish trio of rich Americans arrive in Loch Ness to search for the famous monster in At the Water's Edge (Spiegel & Grau, 2015). While her brother and his friend try to find Nessie, Maddie is left on her own and begins to uncover truths about her family that force her to reevaluate her life.

Jim Kokoris (2002 Winner)
It's. Nice. Outside (St. Martin's Press, 2015) presents a father and son road trip from Chicago to Charleston. John, a 50-something underachiever is traveling with his disabled teenage son to attend his eldest daughter's wedding. Rather than a joyous family get-together, this event is hilariously doomed with major life decisions to make and a bitter ex-wife to confront.

William Kent Krueger (1999 Winner)
Cork O'Connor, the character in Krueger's winning mystery, is back in Vermilion Drift (Simon & Schuster, 2015). When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on an island in Lake Superior, residents of the Bad Bluff reservation blame a mythical beast named Windigo. But private eye O'Connor thinks that rampant sex trafficking is the explanation.

Robert Kurson (2005 Winner)
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Ship (Random House, 2015) is the rollicking true story of two archaeologists looking for the elusive Golden Fleece, the 17th-century ship captained by Pirate Joseph Bannister, lost somewhere in the waters near the Dominican Republic. Besides the thrilling hunt are tales of pirates, lost ships and modern day research.

Mary Morris (1986 Winner)
Morris' The Jazz Palace (Doubleday, 2015) is set in 1915 Chicago. The Lehrman family who run a hat factory, lost a son in a blizzard years earlier so they want Benny, one of the remaining children to carry on the family business. Benny however has no interest in making hats. His true passion is piano, especially jazz, and he spends his nights in local clubs.

Toni Morrison (1978 Winner)
Nobel prize winner Morrison newest work is God Help the Child (Knopf, 2015). Sweetness, a black woman who likes passing as white, gives birth to the midnight black Lula Ann. Ashamed, she raises her at a bitter distance, rationalizing that this will toughen her up. But without love, Lula Ann has no moral compass and causes pain to those around her.

Bich Minh Nguyen (2010 Winner)
In Pioneer Girl, (Viking, 2014) PhD graduate Lee Lien discovers a family heirloom that her mother may have received from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Intrigued, she begins to explore any connection between her ancestors and the famous pioneer author.

Sara Paretsky (1985 Winner)
The seventeenth entry in the V. I. Warshawski series, Brush Back (Putnam, 2015) finds V. I. Warshawski reluctantly helping a former boyfriend who discovers his mother was framed for murder. To find the real killer, Warshawski is forced to confront ugly politics and violent elements in her Chicago neighborhood.

Mona Simpson (1988 Winner)
In Casebook, (Random House, 2014) Miles has always sensed the vulnerability of his mother, a recently divorced mathematician, and throughout his childhood and adolescence feels the need to look out for her. When Irene falls in love with Eli, Miles is highly suspicious. He enlists his best friend to help him look deep into Eli's background, going so far as to work with a private investigator.

Jane Smiley (1982 Winner)
Golden Age (Random House, 2015) is the third book in the Last Hundred Years Trilogy (Some Luck was published in 2014 and Early Warning came out in 2015). This book opens in 1987. The next generation of the Langdon family is facing economic, social, cultural, and political challenges unlike anything their ancestors had encountered before. Richie and Michael, the rivalrous twin sons of Frank, the golden son and World War II hero, have grown into men, and the wild antics of their youth slide seamlessly into a wilder adulthood in finance on Wall Street and in government in Washington, D.C.

Larry Watson (1994 Winner)
Let Him Go (Milkweed, 2013) Years after their only son was killed in an accident, his parents travel miles to reclaim their grandson whose mother has remarried and cut all contact to them. However, their mission proves complicated as Lorna, the daughter- in-law, has become a virtual hostage in the home of her new in-laws.