Chicago has always been essential to the landscape of American literature. Without Chicago, we’d have no Hemingway, Gwendolyn Brooks, L. Frank Baum, Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, Nnedi Okorafor, Nelson Algren, Gillian Flynn, or Roger Ebert, to name a few. As the 21st century comes of age (it’ll be old enough to vote pretty soon), Chicago continues to help shape the American literary conversation, often as a critical third party to the MFA vs. NYC dichotomy.
With that in mind, the Chicago Review of Books—in partnership with Chicago’s independent bookstores—wants to recognize Chicagoland authors and help them reach more bookshelves across the city, the country, and the world.
This fall, the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards (“Chirbys,” for short) will celebrate the best books published in 2016 by writers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
Every day this week, we’ll announce finalists in four categories:
- Best Fiction (Tuesday)
- Best Creative Nonfiction (Wednesday)
- Best Poetry (Thursday)
- Best Debut (Friday)
Finally, the winners in each category will be announced live on December 8 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park, at a free public awards ceremony (with actual, real-life, physical awards) and book signing that will feature panel conversations between some of the authors in each category about their books, writing process, and Chicago inspirations.
Judges for the 2016 Chicago Review of Books Awards include many representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores:
- Suzy Takacs, The Book Cellar
- Rebecca George, Volumes Bookcafe
- Thomas Flynn, Volumes Bookcafe
- Timothy Moore, Unabridged Bookstore
- Sara Hollenbeck, Women & Children First
- Jeff Deutsch, Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books
- Linda Quinde, Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books
- Wayne Giacalone, RoscoeBooks
As well as members of the Chicago Review of Books and Arcturus magazine editorial and contributing staff:
- Adam Morgan, CHIRB and Arcturus Editor-in-Chief
- Kristen Raddatz, CHIRB Executive Editor
- Lauren Stacks, CHIRB Fiction Editor
- Sara Cutaia, Managing Editor at Arcturus magazine
- Rachel León, Visual Arts Editor at Arcturus magazine
- Lori Rader-Day, Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning Novelist
- Christina Kloess, CHIRB contributing staff
- Tovah Burstein, CHIRB contributing staff
Stay tuned for the shortlist announcements throughout the week!
Photo of Volumes Bookcafe courtesy of Ryan Moore Photography.
Adam Morgan is the founding editor of the Chicago Review of Books and the Southern Review of Books. His essays and criticism have appeared in The Paris Review, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, and elsewhere.