Connecticut Center for the Book, a Connecticut Humanities program, has announced the finalists for its 2018 Connecticut Book Awards. The awards recognize and honor authors and illustrators who have created the best books in or about our state in the past year.  A total of 140 books were submitted this year, up 28 percent over last year, as the returning awards program gains momentum. The annual awards returned last year after a multi-year hiatus, to solid reviews.

Between three and five finalists have been selected in each of five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young Readers – Young Adult, and Young Readers – Juvenile. Five distinguished judges per category read each entry and reviewed works using rigorous criteria.

Winners will be announced at the 2018 Connecticut Book Awards ceremony on Sun., Oct. 14, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at Staples High School in Westport.  Okey Ndibe, the 2017 Connecticut Book Award winner for nonfiction, will deliver the keynote speech. He has taught at Brown University, Connecticut College, Simon’s Rock College, Trinity College, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). He is the author of two novels, Arrows of Rain and Foreign Gods, Inc., and a memoir, Never Look An American In the Eye, for which he won the 2017 Connecticut Book Award for nonfiction.

A reception and book signing with this year’s winners, finalists, and Mr. Ndibe will immediately follow from 3:00-4:00; all finalists’ and winners’ books will be available for purchase.  Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and administers the Connecticut Center for the Book.  Established by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress is a national force for reading and literacy promotion.

The finalists:


  • Abby Fabiaschi, of West Hartford, Conn., “I Liked My Life”
  • Jane Green, of Westport, Conn., “The Sunshine Sisters”
  • Georgia Hunter, of Rowayton, Conn., “We Were the Lucky Ones”
  • Rene Denfeld, of Portland, Oregon, “The Child Finder”
  • Courtney Maum, of Norfolk, Conn., “Touch”


  • Virginia DeJohn Anderson, of Boulder, Colo., “The Martyr and the Traitor – Nathan Hale, Moses Dunbar, and the American Revolution”
  • Duo Dickinson, of Madison, Conn., and Steve Culpepper, of New Haven, Conn., “A Home Called New England”
  • David Hays, of Chester, Conn., “Setting the Stage: What We Do, How We Do It, and Why”
  • James C. Scott, of Durham, Conn., “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States”


  • Gina Athena Ulysse, of Middletown, Conn., “Because When God is too Busy”
  • Jose B. Gonzalez, of Quaker Hill, Conn., “When Love was Reels”
  • John Surowiecki, of Amston, Conn., “Martha Playing Wiffle Ball in Her Wedding Dress”
  • Charles Rafferty, of Sandy Hook, Conn., “The Smoke of Horses”

Young Readers – Young Adult

  • Jake Burt, of Hamden, Conn., “Greetings from Witness Protection!”
  • Karen Romano Young, of Bethel, Conn., “Whale Quest”
  • Sarah Albee, of Watertown, Conn., “Poison”

Young Readers – Juvenile (includes authors and illustrators)

  • Gigi Priebe, of New Canaan, Conn., “The Adventures of Henry Whiskers”
  • Lauren Baratz-Logsted, of Danbury, Conn., “I Love You, Michael Collins”
  • Susan Hood, of Southport, Conn., “Double Take! A New Look at Opposites”
  • Deborah Freedman, of Hamden, Conn., “This House, Once”
  • Andrea Wisnewski, of Storrs, Conn., “Trio, The Tale of a Three-legged Cat”


The awards ceremony and reception are open to the public, and conclude Saugatuck StoryFest, a three-day literary festival and writers’ conference. Tickets purchased online before Sept. 15 are $20; then $25 through Oct. 11. Tickets will also be available at the door for $30.

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