After many months of reading, discussing, and evaluating all entries, last week Midland Authors’ judges developed their short lists of semifinalists for our awards competition, which honors books by Midwestern authors published in 2023.

After many hours of rereading and discussing by Zoom, by telephone, and by emails, our judges narrowed their selections down to the following four finalists in each category.

Congratulations to all authors on this outstanding feat. Also, we congratulate and thank all publishers for taking part in this most worthy endeavor, with a special shout out to Feral House and Agate, with two of their books included at this stage, and to Candlewick, whose books have been year-to-year finalists.

We hope that all publishers will consider a sponsorship or perhaps purchasing a table to honor their authors.

One week from today, the judges will have selected the winner and honorees in each of their respective categories.

Again, congratulations! These are the finalists:

Bernard J. Brommel Award for Biography & Memoir

  • Eliza Scidmore: The Trailblazing Journalist Behind Washington’s Cherry Trees by Diana P. Parsell (Oxford University Press)
  • Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan (Agate)
  • Love and Industry: A Midwestern Workbook by Sonya Huber (Belt)
  • Chinese Prodigal: A Memoir in Eight Arguments by David Shih (Atlantic Monthly Press)


  • Indigenous Missourians: Ancient Societies to the Present by Greg Olson (University of Missouri Press)
  • The Burning of the World: The Great Chicago Fire and the War for a City’s Soul by Scott W. Berg (Pantheon Books)
  • Country and Midwestern: Chicago in the History of Country Music and the Folk Revival by Mark Guarino (University of Chicago Press)
  • Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas by Jim Minick (University of Nebraska Press)

Children’s Reading Roundtable Award for Children’s Nonfiction

  • How to Spacewalk: Step-By-Step With Shuttle Astronauts by Kathryn Sullivan and Michael J. Rosen (MIT Kids Press)
  • Virginia Wouldn’t Slow Down! The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention by Carrie Pearson (Norton Young Readers)
  • Work With What You Got: A Memoir by Zion Clark and James S. Hirsch (Candlewick)
  • Restoring Prairie, Woods, and Pond: How a Small Trail Can Make a Big Difference by Laurie Lawlor (Holiday House)

Children’s Fiction

  • Mèo and Bé by Doan Phuong Nguyen (Lee & Low Books)
  • Maddie’s Ghost by Carol Fisher Saller (Duckweed Books)
  • Sweet Dreams: Poems and Paintings for the Child Abed by Rick Telander (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Maybe There Are Witches by Jude Atwood (Fitzroy Books)


  • I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times by Taylor Byas (Soft Skull Press)
  • Trace by Brenda Cárdenas (Red Hen Press)
  • Ghost Variations by Elton Glaser (University of Pittsburgh Press)
  • When I Reach For Your Pulse by Rushi Vyas (Four Way Books)

Richard Frisbie Award for Adult Nonfiction

  • Murder Ballads Old & New: A Dark and Bloody Record by Steven L. Jones (Feral House)
  • Programmable Planet: The Synthetic Biology Revolution by Ted Anton (Columbia University Press)
  • Hit Girls: Women of Punk in the USA, 1975-1983 by Jen B. Larson (Feral House)
  • How to Taste Coffee: Develop Your Sensory Skills and Get the Most Out of Every Cup by Jessica Easto (Agate)

Adult Fiction

  • Central Places by Delia Cai (Ballantine)
  • Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books)
  • Brave in Season by Jon Volkmer (Milford House)
  • The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman by Molly Lynch (Catapult)

Tickets and sponsorships for the May 21 Awards Banquet at the Cliff Dwellers, 200 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, are available for purchase byPayPal or by check or money order. Visit our website for details at:

The emcee for the evening will be Justin Kaufmann of Axios.