Former longtime Chicago Tribune reporter Bill Barnhart and his writing partner, Gene Schlickman, were among five Chicago-area writers winning recognition from the Society of Midland Authors, which announced winners of its annual Author Awards Wednesday morning.
Barnhart, a Chicago resident, and Schlickman, a former Arlington Heights resident, who now lives in Beverly Shores, Ind., won the biography category for their book "John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life," about the one-time Supreme Court justice.
Keir Graff ("The Price of Liberty") and Billy Lombardo ("The Man With Two Arms"), both of whom live in the Chicago area, were finalists in the adult fiction category. "The Price of Liberty," Graff's final book in his post-9/11 trilogy, tells the story of Jack McEnroe, a Wyoming construction worker whose latest project is helping build a prison for terrorists. Lombardo's debut novel about a boy who can pitch with both arms combines the themes of baseball, helicopter parenting and clairvoyance.
The category winner was Benjamin Percy from Ames, Iowa, for his novel "The Wilding," the story of the physical and emotional dangers that Justin, his father and his son face during a camping trip in the Oregon wilderness.
Deborah Blum of Madison, Wis., won the adult nonfiction award for "The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York," which details the lives of Manhattan's first trained chief medical examiner and toxicologist and the methods they use to detect poisons in corpses.
Chicago resident Walter J. Podrazik and Harry Castleman were finalists in adult nonfiction for "Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television," a scholarly text on the role of TV in modern American culture. Kevin Stein, of Dunlap, Ill., was also a category finalist for his "Poetry's Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age."
Stephanie Hemphill, another Chicago resident, was a finalist in the children's fiction category for her "Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials."
Other category winners included Rebecca Barnhouse ("The Coming of the Dragon") for children's fiction, Don Mitchell ("Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford") for children's nonfiction and Jehanne Dubrow ("Stateside") for poetry.
The Society of Midland Authors has been giving out annual awards since 1957. It gives out awards for adult fiction, adult nonfiction, biography, children's fiction, children's nonfiction and poetry, with three published authors serving as judges in each category. Awards will be presented Tuesday in Chicago; winners receive $300 and a plaque, and finalists receive a plaque.
The 2010 competition was open to authors who had a book published that year and "who live in, were born in, or have strong ties to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin," according to the society's website.
The Society of Midland Authors also presents the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary and Dramatic Criticism. The award, given in honor of Friend, former chairman of the English department at Chicago State University and book reviewer for area publications including the Tribune, by his widow Beverly Friend, goes this year to John Barron, publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and a book critic.
For more information on the Society or the annual awards dinner visit midlandauthors.com.
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