Western MA has done a clean sweep of the Fiction category in the 20th Massachusetts Book Awards whose winners were announced this morning.
Ocean Vuong (Northampton) won the award for his debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous while honors went to Christopher Boucher (Northampton) for Big Giant Floating Head and Jennifer Acker (Montague) for The Limits of The World.
Another big win for Western MA was in the Poetry category where Karen Skolfield was awarded the prize for her collection of army-inspired poems, Battledress.
The winners were announced in a statement by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. They recognize achievement in five categories of literature written by current residents of the Commonwealth.
Representative Paul McMurtry, Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development, expressed his gratitude to writers in the State; “Thank you for playing an important role in our cultural community, especially in times of physical distancing. Thanks also for sharing your creative talent and literary works that, everyday, enrich and inspire the lives of citizens throughout the Commonwealth.”
Here is the full list of awards
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press) by Ocean Vuong of Northampton.
This debut novel from Vietnamese-American poet Vuong is written as a son’s letter to his single mother, addressing their relationship and immigrant experience in a tour de force coming-of-age narrative.
- Big Giant Floating Head (Melville House) by Christopher Boucher of Northampton
- The Limits of The World (Delphinium Books) by Jennifer Acker of Montague
- The Body Papers (Restless Books) by Grace Talusan of Medford.
This debut memoir explores a Filipino immigrant’s battle with cancer and childhood abuse, and voices the resilience and hope of a survivor.
- American Radicals: How 19th-Century Protest Shaped the Nation (Crown) by Holly Jackson of Cambridge
- Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liverwright) by Kerri K. Greenidge of Westborough.
- Battledress: Poems (Norton) by Karen Skolfield of Amherst. A U.S. Army veteran and the current poet laureate of Northampton, Skolfield has written poems that share her experience as a female soldier, addressing physical training, mental preparation, and the effects of trauma over time.
- The Boy in the Labyrinth (U of Akron Press) by Oliver de la Paz of Holden
- Nightshade (Four Way Books) by Andrea Cohen of Watertown
Picture Book/Early Reader
- ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market (Versify) by Raúl the Third of Medford.
This charming bilingual picture book takes readers to a busy border-town market, teaching them basic words in Spanish as Little Lobo delivers his wares.
Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature
- Shouting at the Rain (Penguin Young Readers) by Lynda Mullaly Hunt of South Yarmouth.
Set on Cape Cod, against the backdrop of its stormy weather, the book is an adolescent tale of family and friendship, loneliness, and standing up for what is right.
- Midsummer’s Mayhem (Little Bee) by Rajani LaRocca of Concord
- White Rose (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Kip Wilson of Melrose