We’ve now journeyed through eight decades in our 90 Years . . . 90 Books retrospective, in which we’re looking back at titles by 90 Ohio authors since Ohioana’s founding in 1929.
So far, we shared 70 books, representing authors from every part of the state, books of every literary genre, and books for readers of every age. In this final installment, we highlight 20 books, all of them produced during this decade which is about to end. Some of these authors have long been popular, others made their debuts in the past ten years. Several of these books have been made, or are being made, into works for film or television.
We’re happy so many of you have enjoyed these weekly installments. It certainly has been fun for the staff to put the series together. In fact, you may not have heard the end of this as yet! Keep a look out on our social media . . . and thanks for reading!
The Girl of Fire and Thorn, Rae Carson – 2011
Rae Carson pursued numerous careers and called many places home before moving to Columbus, Ohio, where she published her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns. The story follows Elisa, a princess overshadowed by her elder sister who must rise to greatness in this fantasy trilogy. The Girl of Fire and Thorns won the Ohioana Book Award in juvenile literature and was a finalist for the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Debut Award, launching Carson into a New York Times and USA Today bestselling career. Her recent novels include titles in the popular Star Wars franchise. Carson now lives in Arizona.
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain – 2011
Born in California and a long-time resident of Cleveland, Paula McLain is the author of three New York Times best-selling historical novels. The second of these, The Paris Wife, a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage, won the 2012 Ohioana Book Award in fiction, and was a 2013-14 Choose to Read Ohio title. McLain holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan; has been a resident of Yadoo and the MacDowell Colony; and was the recipient of fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize in 2011, the year The Paris Wife was published.
Destiny of the Republic, Candice Millard – 2011
Ask Candice Millard and she’ll tell you her love of books began in the little library in her hometown of Lexington, Ohio. With degrees from Baker and Baylor Universities, Millard pursued a successful career writing and editing for National Geographic magazine before turning to biography. The result: three New York Times best-sellers chronicling difficult chapters in the lives of three notable men: Theodore Roosevelt, James A. Garfield, and Winston Churchill. Millard’s book on Garfield’s assassination, Destiny of the Republic, won her a number of honors, including an Ohioana Book Award and the coveted Edgar Award, and was adapted into a documentary for PBS’ American Experience. Millard lives with her family in Kansas.
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline – 2011
In Ready Player One Ernest Cline envisions the year 2045, where people escape their dystopian society by living in a virtual reality world called OASIS and where Columbus, Ohio is a futuristic mega-metropolis. The main character, teenaged Wade Watts, must use his knowledge of 1980s popular culture to decode a series of puzzles left by the OASIS’ creator in order to try to realize a better future. Cline grew up in Ashland, Ohio, from which he drew inspiration for many of the significant locations in the novel. Cline published a second novel, Armada, in 2015 and in 2018 Ready Player One was adapted into a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Cline now lives in Austin, Texas.
The Year of the Book, Andrea Cheng – 2012
Andrea Cheng was the daughter of Hungarian immigrant parents and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio in an extended family with three generation living under one roof. Cheng studied Chinese at Cornell University, earning an MS in linguistics. While there she met and married her husband, James Cheng, like her the child of immigrants (from China). It was after their three children were born that she was inspired to start writing. The result: more than 25 books, including picture books, young adult, and nonfiction. The Year of the Book, the first in a popular series, follows Anna Wang, a young Chinese American girl living in Cincinnati. Based on a combination of Andrea and her two real-life daughters, the book was a 2017-18 Choose to Read Ohio. Andrea Cheng passed away in 2015.
The World We Found, Thirty Umrigar – 2012
Born in Mombai, India, and a graduate of the University of Bombay, Thrity Umrigar came to the United States in 1983 to pursue her graduate studies. Holding an MBA from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from Kent State University, Umrigar has been a successful journalist and teacher as well as a best-selling author. Her novels include The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and The Story Hour, which was a 2017-18 Choose to Read Ohio title. Umrigar won the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for her novel, The World We Found. In 2017, Umrigar wrote her first picture book for children, When I Carried You in My Belly. Also a Cleveland Arts Prize recipient, Umrigar is the Armington Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.
Sky Ward, Kazim Ali – 2013
Queer, Muslim, American, poet and prose writer Kazim Ali has always navigated complex intersections and interstices, just to make a life. Born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian descent, he received a BA and MA from the University of Albany-SUNY, and an MFA from New York University. Ali’s poetry collections include Bright Felon, a 2010 Ohioana Award finalist; Sky Ward, which won him the 2013 Ohioana Poetry Book Award; and his newest collection, Inquisition. He is the founding editor of Nightboat Press. Ali, who taught for many years at Oberlin College, is now Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California in San Diego.
Fat Angie, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo – 2013
High school is often a confusing, tumultuous and difficult time. This is particularly true for Fat Angie, the titular character of e. E. Charlton Trujillo’s 2013 YA novel, who often feels isolated, struggles with her sexuality and identity, and is desperately trying to hold onto hope for a sister who was captured in Iraq. Charlton-Trujillo, a native of Texas who has lived in Ohio for much of her adult life, captures these themes with tenderness and sensitivity. Fat Angie was a recipient of the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award and was a Lambda Literary Finalist and a Choose to Read Ohio book.
Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis – 2013
Winner of the Edgar Award for A Madness So Discreet, Mindy McGinnis is a novelist who lives in Ohio. McGinnis’ debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, tells the story of Lynn, a teenager living in a dystopian world where water is worth more than gold. This popular book led to a companion novel, In a Handful of Dust, and has been optioned by Fickle Fish Films. McGinnis has gone on to publish nine young adult novels that span multiple genres including postapocalyptic, historical, thriller, contemporary, mystery, and fantasy. Whether they are set in the past, the present, or a disturbing and not-too-distant future, McGinnis’s books offer an unflinching look at humanity and the world around us.
Super Boys, Brad Ricca – 2013
Jerry Shuster and Joel Siegel were two teenagers in Cleveland when in 1938 they created the first and most famous of all superheroes – Superman. Seventy-five years later, another Clevelander, Brad Ricca, told their remarkable story in his Ohioana Award-winning book, Super Boys. Ricca, who is also the recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize, earned his Ph.D. from Case Western, where he teaches. His second book, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, was a finalist for both the Ohioana Award and the Edgar Award.
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr – 2014
Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See follows two teenagers during World War II, one a blind girl in Nazi-occupied France, the other a German orphan boy pressed into service by the Nazi army. An international best-seller, the novel’s elegant prose and masterful storytelling earned Doerr the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in fiction, and the Ohioana Book Award, one of four he has won since 2003. Ohioana has long been an advocate of Doerr, who is a native of Cleveland. He won the 2000 Ohioana Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant for emerging writers, the first prize in his amazing career. The author of five books, Doerr and his family live in Idaho, where he was the state’s Writer-in-Residence from 2007 to 2010.
Dog Man, Dav Pilkey – 2014
Dav Pilkey was born in Cleveland, Ohio. In elementary school, he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, and was frequently sent to sit out in the hall for his disruptive behavior. He filled the time doodling and creating silly stories that were frowned upon by his teachers. Fortunately, he ignored all the scolding and pursued his love of cartooning into adulthood, creating multiple New York Times bestselling series for children. His beloved series include The Dumb Bunnies, Ricky Ricotta, Dragon, and Captain Underpants, the latter of which came to the big screen as a DreamWorks movie in 2017. Dog Man is Pilkey’s most recent graphic novel series, following the antics of a half-dog, half-human hero through eight adventurous books—and counting!
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson – 2014
Though she was born in Columbus, Jacqueline Woodson was raised in South Carolina and New York, and always felt halfway home in each place. Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of her childhood in verse and shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. It also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, creating the first sparks of the writer she was to become. Its many accolades include the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the NAACP Image Award, a Newbery Honor, and the inaugural Ohioana Book Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature. Woodson is the author of more than 35 books for both children and adults. The 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Woodson lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Showdown, Wil Haygood – 2015
Wil Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” served as the basis for Lee Daniels’ acclaimed film, The Butler. A 30-year career as a journalist at the Post and also the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, led Haygood to an equally successful career as a biographer. In Show Down, he tells the remarkable the story behind President Lyndon Johnson’s historic appointment of Thurgood Marshall as the first black Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. It won Haygood the second of his three Ohioana Awards – he also won for 1998’s The Haygoods of Columbus and 2018’s Tigerland, which was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Haygood lives in Washington DC.
Little Tree, Loren Long – 2015
Loren Long began his career illustrating greeting cards, theater posters, and magazines before finding his true passion: children’s books. His award-winning books have encompassed titles he both authored and illustrated—including his popular Otis series about a loveable tractor—as well as stories written by American icons like Walt Whitman and Barack Obama. Little Tree tells the story of a young tree who holds tight to his leaves and is a heartfelt ode to the challenges of growing up and letting go. It won the Ohioana Award in juvenile literature and was the inaugural Floyd’s Pick, an annual award presented by the State Library of Ohio and Ohioana. Long lives in Cincinnati where he finds inspiration in nature just outside his studio window.
Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell – 2015
Mary Doria Russell is a celebrated American writer who lives near Cleveland. She drew on her interests both in the Wild West and the Homeric epics when writing Epitaph, a follow up to Doc that continues the story of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The result is a sweeping a historical fiction novel that is mystical, epic, intimate and masterfully told. Mary is the winner of numerous awards and accolades, including the 2016 Ohioana Fiction and Readers’ Choice Awards for Epitaph, the Arthur C. Clarke Prize and the American Library Association Best Novel in Historical Fiction for Doc.
Dothead, Amit Majmudar – 2016
In 2016, Amit Majmudar received the honor of being named by Governor John Kasich as Ohio’s first Poet Laureate. The son of Indian immigrants and raised in Cleveland, Majmudar is a doctor as well as a writer, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist in Columbus. His poems have appeared in numerous publications as well as in three books. Dothead, published the year he became Poet Laureate, is described as “an exploration of selfhood, both intense and exhilarating.” Majmudar has also published a translation in verse of the Bhagavad Vita, and two novels, one of which, The Abundance, was a Choose to Read Ohio title in 2013-14. Majmudar, who lives in Westerville, was succeeded in 2018 as Ohio Poet Laureate by Ohioana Award winner Dave Lucas.
Rightful Heritage, Douglas Brinkley – 2016
Called “America’s new past master” by the Chicago Tribune and CNN’s official Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley is the author of nearly 40 books. His subjects have included Walter Cronkite, Henry Ford, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jack Kerouac. Many of his books have dealt with 20th century American Presidents, including the Ohioana Award-winning, Rightful Heritage, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s towering contributions to conservation. Brinkley was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, where both his parents were teachers. He received his BA from The Ohio State University, and his MA and Ph.D. from Georgetown. Brinkley lives with his family in Austin, Texas, where he is a Professor of History and holds the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities at Rice University.
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng – 2017
When Shaker Heights was established as a suburb of Cleveland in 1912 it was one of the first planned communities of its kind in the country. In Little Fires Everywhere, as she did in her acclaimed debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng uses Shaker Heights as the setting of the novel, exploring the interesting cultural and class phenomenon that has risen from the concept of such a community with a large and diverse cast of characters. Ng herself lived in Shaker Heights during her middle and high school years, and draws upon her intimate knowledge of the community for the story. Little Fires Everywhere is the recipient of the 2018 Ohioana Award in Fiction and is being adapted into a Hulu miniseries, set to be released in 2020. She is also a Pushcart Prize-winning author of short fiction appearing in One Story, TriQuarterly and Subtropics. A Massachusetts Book Award winner, Ng lives in Cambridge.
Go Ahead in the Rain, Hanif Abdurraqib – 2019
Poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib is a Columbus native. Columbus has always featured in his works, whether it is a mention of I-270 or an aside about parking tickets in Bexley, where he attended Capital University. His latest book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest is not only an homage to the seminal rap group, but also a meditation on growing up in the late 1990s and entering adulthood. His books, always deeply personal, are both a reflection and a critique of our admiration of artists whose works touch our lives, and the “relationships” we form with the artists and media we love. His second poetry collection, A Fortune for Your Disaster, was published in September 2019.