Last night, at Portland Center Stage's Pearl District auditorium, Literary Arts held its first in-person event in two years: the 2022 Oregon Book Awards.

Hosted by former top prize-winner Kesha Ajose Fisher, the ceremony celebrated the 35 nominated titles (by 34 authors—Portlander April Henry snagged dual nods in the YA literature category) and selected winners in seven categories. Omar El Akkad's What Strange Paradise, one of our favorite books of 2021, took home the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, and Oregon State University history professor Jacob Darwin Hamblin took home nonfiction honors for The Wretched Atom, his deep dive on nuclear technology.

Other winners, in brief: poet Dao Strom's Instrument, which was released with a supplementary concept album; Allison Cobb's reflexive Plastic: An Autobiography, which covers everything from plastic car parts to nuclear war; supernatural mystery The Dead and the Dark, set in the fictional Oregon town of Snakebite; the grief-stricken epistolary youth novel Taylor Before and After; and Trespassers, a graphic novel about two teens investigating a rich couple's disappearance.

Check out the full list of finalists and winners (indicated in bold) below. 

KEN KESEY AWARD FOR FICTION  

Callum Angus of Portland, A Natural History of Transition
WINNER: Omar El Akkad of West Linn, What Strange Paradise: A Novel
Tracey Lange of Bend, We Are the Brennans: A Novel 
A. E. Osworth of Portland, We Are Watching Eliza Bright: A Novel 
Chris Stuck of Portland, Give My Love to the Savages: Stories 

STAFFORD/HALL AWARD FOR POETRY

Irene Cooper of Bend, spare change
Emily Kendal Frey of Portland, LOVABILITY 
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta of Hillsboro, When We Talk of Stolen Sisters: New and Revised Poems
Zachary Schomburg of Portland, Fjords vol. 2 
WINNER: Dao Strom of Portland, Instrument

FRANCES FULLER VICTOR AWARD FOR GENERAL NONFICTION

Bryna Goodman of Eugene, The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic
WINNER: Jacob Darwin Hamblin of Corvallis, The Wretched Atom: America’s Global Gamble with Peaceful Nuclear Technology
Annelise Heinz of Portland, Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture 
Kenneth I. Helphand of Eugene, Hops: Historic Photographs of the Oregon Hopscape
Kathleen Dean Moore of Corvallis, Earth’s Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World

SARAH WINNEMUCCA AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION 

David Biespiel of Portland, A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas
WINNER: Allison Cobb of Portland, Plastic: An Autobiography 
Mary Emerick of Joseph, The Last Layer of the Ocean: Kayaking through Love and Loss on Alaska’s Wild Coast
Aaron Gilbreath of Portland, The Heart of California: Exploring the San Joaquin Valley
Tina Ontiveros of Hood River, rough house: a memoir

LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE 

J. C. Geiger of Eugene, The Great Big One 
WINNER: Courtney Gould of Salem, The Dead and the Dark 
April Henry of Portland, Eyes of the Forest 
April Henry of Portland, Playing with Fire 
Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, We Must Not Forget: Holocaust Stories of Survival and Resistance

ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

Waka T. Brown of West Linn, While I Was Away
Cathy Camper of Portland, Ten Ways to Hear Snow
WINNER: Jennie Englund of Ashland, Taylor Before and After
Gabi Snyder of Corvallis, Listen 
Tracy Subisak of Portland, Jenny Mei Is Sad 

AWARD FOR GRAPHIC LITERATURE

WINNER: Breena Bard of Portland, Trespassers: A Graphic Novel
Cat Farris of Portland, The Ghoul Next Door
Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber of Portland, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?
Sarah Mirk of Portland, Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison
Aron Nels Steinke of Portland, Field Trip: A Graphic Novel (Mr. Wolf’s Class #4) 

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