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The Nonfiction Shortlist for the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Award

The Nonfiction Shortlist for the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Award

The great tradition of Chicago nonfiction writing goes back at least to Jane Addams at the turn of the 20th century, and continues today thanks to reporters, biographers, essayists and memoirists. For the third year in a row, the Chicago Review of Books Award for Nonfiction (in partnership with the Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance) will recognize the best nonfiction books published by Chicago-based writers in the past calendar year.

Here are the six finalists for the 2018 award for nonfiction, along with this year’s judges. Kudos as well to Chicago-based publishers University of Chicago Press and Agate Publishing, and congrats again to past winners Natalie Y. Moore and Megan Stielstra.

We announced our poetry shortlist yesterday, with the fiction shortlist to come later this week, along with a new surprise category. The winners will be announced on Saturday, December 8 during a free awards ceremony at Volumes Bookcafe. More details soon!

2018 Nonfiction Finalists


Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing
By Ben Austen

With this book, Austen joins Natalie Y. Moore, Eve Ewing, and Alex Kotlowitz as one of Chicago’s great chroniclers of the devastating effects of bad public policy. This book — like The South SideGhosts in the Schoolyard,and There Are No Children Here — should be required reading.


The Leopold and Loeb Files:
An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes

By Nina Barrett
Agate Publishing


Read our interview with Barrett.

“The murder of Bobby Franks by Leopold and his friend Richard Loeb was dubbed the Crime of the Century — an overused title, but one that fits this infamous Jazz Age tale of murder, wealth and privilege. Author and Evanston bookseller Nina Barret revisits the case in a thoroughly researched and lavishly illustrated chronicle that offers new insights into a murder and court battle that transfixed and fascinated Chicagoans — and still does.” —Dean Jobb


Essays on the Writing Life

By Jenny Boully
Coffee House Press


Read our interview with Boully.

As far as I can tell, Jenny Boully is the first Chicagoan (or at least one of the first) to write a book about the craft of writing itself. How odd, then, that it happened by accident. Betwixt-and-Between is a series of essays that span her career thus far as a poet, hybrid fiction writer, and professor, “ripe with romance and sensual pleasures, drawing connections between the digression, reflection, imagination, and experience that characterize falling in love as well as the art of arranging words on a page.”


Small Animals:
Parenthood in the Age of Fear
By Kim Brooks
Flatiron Books

“The Edgewater resident’s new mix of memoir and reportage, arriving on the heels of a viral essay about being arrested for leaving her son in the car for five minutes, explores the escalating relationship between parenthood and fear in America.” —Adam Morgan, Chicago magazine

See Also


Ghosts in the Schoolyard:
Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side
By Eve L. Ewing
University of Chicago Press

Ewing’s debut poetry collection, Electric Arches, won our second annual award for poetry last year. Now, she’s back on the shortlist for her nonfiction debut, a compelling, deeply researched look at why the Rahm Emmanuel administration closed more than 50 public schools in 2013, and why it matters.


Night Moves
By Jessica Hopper
University of Texas Press

“In her new memoir, Hopper paints a vivid impression of what the city was like in the mid-aughts for a creative writer coming into her own. She finds the spirit of Chicago in its lower depths — on late night streets, at after-hours soirees, and in endless conversations between friends.” —Kerry Cardoza, Chicago magazine

2018 Judges

Judges for the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Awards include many representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores and the Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance:

As well as members of the Chicago Review of Books and Arcturus magazine editorial and contributing staffs:


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