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 Side, Ghosts 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
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.”
Parenthood in the Age of Fear
By Kim Brooks
“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
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.
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
Judges for the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Awards include many representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores and the Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance:
- Suzy Takacs, The Book Cellar
- Rebecca George, Volumes Bookcafe
- Thomas Flynn, Volumes Bookcafe
- Timothy Moore, Unabridged Bookstore
- Sarah 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
- Adam Morgan, CHIRB Editor-in-Chief
- Kristen Raddatz, CHIRB Associate Editor
- Sara Cutaia, Editor-in-Chief at Arcturus magazine and CHIRB editor-at-large
- Aram Mrjoian, CHIRB editor-at-large
- Rachel León, CHIRB contributing staff
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.