Since 2016, the Chicago Review of Books Awards have recognized the best books by Chicago writers published during the past calendar year. But what about all the fantastic work that’s published online, in magazines, or in newspapers?
This year, for the first time, the Chicago Review of Books Award for Best Story or Essay will honor a Chicago journalist (either freelance or on staff at a publication). Here are the seven finalists (a three-way tie during the voting made it impossible to narrow it down to six) for the 2018 award, along with this year’s judges.
We announced our poetry shortlist Tuesday and our nonfiction shortlist yesterday, with the fiction shortlist to come on Friday. The winners in each category will be announced on Saturday, December 8 during a free awards ceremony at Volumes Bookcafe. More details soon!
The Towers Came Down
By Ben Austen
New York Times Magazine
On a December morning in 1989, amid a snowstorm, Annie Ricks let her third oldest son, Cornelius, stay home from middle school. For months, she and her eight children had been sleeping on the floors of relatives’ apartments or in the lobby of the Cook County Hospital. She had lived on Chicago’s West Side, within the same few blocks, since moving there as a 10-year-old from a segregated mill town in Alabama. But her West Side apartment and every belonging in it had burned in a fire . . .
Motherhood in the Age of Fear
By Kim Brooks
The New York Times
I was on my way home from dropping my kids off at preschool when a police officer called to ask if I was aware there was an outstanding warrant for my arrest. “No, no,” I told him. “I didn’t know that.” . . .
After Unthinkable Loss
By Sarah Conway, Photos by Sebastián Hidalgo
City Bureau / Chicago magazine
Some have sons in prison. Others have sons who were murdered. At Precious Blood Ministry, this group of mothers sits shoulder to shoulder each month to talk about love, grief, and their toughest challenge as parents: losing a child . . .
The Chicago Reader‘s ‘African-American Thing’
By Adeshina Emmanuel
Columbia Journalism Review
The Chicago Reader fired Executive Editor Mark Konkol on Saturday night, 17 days into his tenure. The news was announced in a statement from Chicago Sun-Times and Reader CEO Edwin Eisendrath. “Mark came to the publication bringing great hope for a new direction and a new life to a storied brand,” Eisendrath said. “Sometimes things don’t work out as planned.” . . .
I Got an IUD, and I Got Pregnant
By Lindsay Hunter
A while back, I took my two young sons to the park. It was a beautiful late summer day, the clouds tatty and thin, like an unraveling of cotton candy. They ran and tackled each other in the grass. It was the kind of day where I let myself relax into feeling lucky . . .
By Natalie Y. Moore
The Marshall Project / Amazon Original Stories
The nightmare starts in 1983. Darrell Cannon is driving a car down an expressway, looking for a place to dump a body. Since his elementary school days, he’s been affiliated with a gang known as the Blackstone Rangers . . .
A Year of Grieving Publicly
By Deborah Shapiro
On New Year’s Eve 2016, Anjali Pinto and her husband, Jacob Johnson, a furniture maker who’d grown up in Iowa and met Pinto in 2012, spent a quiet day in their Andersonville apartment. They wanted some time together before she flew to New York with her sister for a short getaway and he drove to Michigan to see a concert with friends. Around dusk, after waking from a nap, Pinto found her husband on the bathroom floor, his eyes closed, like he’d fainted. He looked peaceful, but he wasn’t breathing . . .
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 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.