2023 Literary Awards


2023 Awards Announcements

The Literary Awards Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association annually selects outstanding books by Wisconsin-connected authors and awards them WLA Literary Awards or the title of Notable Wisconsin Authors/Illustrators.

WLA Literary Award (Nonfiction)

This award is for the highest literary achievement by an author with a Wisconsin connection, for a work of nonfiction written in the previous year.

cover of the book TailspinTailspin by John Armbruster

The true story of Gene Moran, a World War II tail gunner who survived a four-mile fall without a parachute – only to land in Nazi hands. Gene endured life as a prisoner of war for seventeen grueling months, an experience which would remain untold for most of his life until he met John Armbruster. Part survival saga, part a journey of storytelling, Tailspin is a remarkable and unvarnished firsthand account of war, trauma, and resilience. John Armbruster is an American history and government teacher in southwestern Wisconsin. 




 WLA Literary Award (Fiction)

This award is for the highest literary achievement by an author with a Wisconsin connection, for a work of fiction written in the previous year.

Still True by Maggie Ginsberg

A specter of a long-buried past comes calling, threatening to unravel a marriage – and meanwhile, new friends bring happiness and complications of their own. When the terrible events of a fateful evening threaten everyone’s carefully crafted lives, each must determine the value of truth. Still True, is an immersive and heartfelt exploration of love, trust, and secrets in small-town Wisconsin, driven by multilayered characters so nuanced as to seem real.  Maggie Ginsberg is a writer and author and is a senior editor at Madison Magazine. 





WLA Literary Award (Poetry)

This award is for the highest literary achievement by an author with a Wisconsin connection, for a work of poetry written in the previous year.

All the Flowers Kneeling by Paul Tran

All the Flowers Kneeling, is an incisive, powerful, and exquisitely-crafted reflection on survival in the aftermath of sexual and imperial violence. At once grand and intimate, commanding and deeply vulnerable, All the Flowers Kneeling revels in rediscovering and reconfiguring the self, and ultimately becomes an essential testament to the human capacity for resilience, endurance, and love. Tran is an Assistant Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 





Notable Wisconsin Authors & Illustrators

Designed to promote greater awareness of the state’s literary heritage, the award recognizes an author’s entire body of work. This year’s Notable Authors are: 

Jennifer Chiaverini (1969- )

Jennifer Chiaverini is a New York Times best-selling author of forty-two novels. Her first novel—The Quilter’s Apprentice—was published in 1999. Her Elm Creek Quilts series includes over twenty works of fiction, along with books of patterns inspired by the series. Chiaverini is also the author of numerous works of historical fiction that bring to life the experiences of women. Dubbed a “historical fiction queen” by Library Journal, Jennifer has greatly contributed to the canon of Wisconsin-based writers with her highly-researched, compelling narratives. 

Chiaverini graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned her MA English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.  Visit her website: Jennifer Chiaverini – NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author of RESISTANCE WOMEN


Victoria Houston (1945 - )

Victoria Houston was born and raised in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Houston’s career began in newspaper and magazine feature writing, and progressed to promotion and public relations. She also authored several full-length works of nonfiction.

Victoria came to novel writing in her fifties, publishing her first novel–-Dead Angler—in 2000. Fishing has always been part of her life, a love which she has woven into her mystery series. Vividly set in the scenery and culture of Northwoods of Wisconsin, Houston’s Loon Lake Fishing mysteries and Lew Harris mysteries are a true portrait of her achievement in writing.

Houston earned her BA from Bennington College in Vermont. After thirty years away, she now lives in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.  Learn more at her website: Victoria Houston

Outstanding Achievement Awards 

These are Wisconsin authors recognized for outstanding achievement for books published in the previous year.


Honored Fiction Authors:

  • Quan Barry, When I'm Gone, Look for Me in the East 
  • Lan Samantha Chang, The Family Chao
  • Nghi Vo, Siren Queen
  • Carol Dunbar, The Net Beneath Us
  • David Rhodes, Painting Beyond Walls

Honored Nonfiction Authors:

  • Ruth Conniff, Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers 
  • David Maraniss, Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe 
  • Rhea Ewing, Fine: A Comic About Gender
  • Erica Hannickel, Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers 
  • Kathleen Hale, Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls

Honored Poets:

  • John Koethe, Beyond Belief
  • Erica Meitner, Useful Junk 
  • Kathryn Gall, The Yellow Toothbrush
  • Ingrid Andersson, Jordemoder: Poems of a Midwife
  • Austin Segrest, Door to Remain