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Lynda Barry's "What It Is" wins RR Donnelley Literary Award

Posted by on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 in WLA Blog Archive
The Literary Awards Committee of the Readers’ Section of the Wisconsin Library Association has chosen What It Is by Lynda Barry as the winner of the RR Donnelley Literary Award, given for the highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author in 2009. What It Is appears at first to be an eccentric writer’s guide. In reality it is a densely-layered treatise on setting aside inhibition, following your dreams, and allowing your inner child to come out and play again.

Lynda Barry offers us insight into how she overcame self-doubt, as well as the doubts of others, to follow her muse, and in the process become one of America’s leading cartoonists. Part memoir, part writer’s guide, Lynda does a brilliant job of using her own experiences to illustrate that each of us has the power to create within us.

Two authors were chosen for their body of work as Notable Wisconsin Authors. Gene DeWeese is the author of multiple fiction titles for adults and children, including The Doll with Opal Eyes and Jeremy Case. Margaret Ashmun wrote fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books and her works include The Lake and the Isabel Carleton series.

2009 Outstanding Achievement awards for 2008 publications include the following ten titles by Wisconsin authors. They are:

Anthony Bukoski. North of the Port: Stories

Lauren Groff. Monsters of Templeton

Sharon Kaye. The Aristotle Quest: Black Market Truth

David Maraniss. Rome 1960: the Olympics that Changed the World

David McGlynn. The End of the Straight and Narrow: Stories

Rachel Pastan. Lady of the Snakes

David Rhodes. Driftless

Michael Schumacher. Wreck of the Carl D.: a True Story of Loss, Survival, and Rescue at Sea Lori Tharps. Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love, and Spain

Jean Wilkowski. Abroad for her Country: Tales of a Pioneer Woman Ambassador in the U.S. Foreign Service

2009 Outstanding Achievement in Poetry awards for 2008 titles include the following four titles:

Matthew Guenette. Sudden Anthem

Judy Roy and June Nirschl. Two Off Q: a Conversation in Poetry

Austin Smith. In the Silence of the Migrated Birds

Ron Wallace. For a Limited Time Only

The 2009 Literary Awards Committee members are: Ellen Jepson (chair), Jean Anderson, Susan Belsky, Anne Callaghan, Caroline Haskin, Brian Kopetsky, Amy Lutzke, Rhonda Puntney, Deb Shapiro, and Cece Wiltzius.

The RR Donnelley Literary Award is made possible by RR Donnelley Company of Chicago, IL through a grant to the WLA Foundation.

For more information about the work of the Literary Awards Committee, go to

--Submitted by Ellen Jepson, Chair, Literary Awards Committee

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