Two Rochester authors named finalists for 2023 Minnesota Book Awards

Teresa Waldof and Virginia Wright Peterson are two of the finalists in nine categories, which were selected by 27 statewide judges.

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Rochester authors, Teresa Waldof and Virginia Wright Peterson, have been named finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards.

ROCHESTER — The books of two Rochester authors, Teresa Waldof and Virginia Wright Peterson, have been named finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards, according to an announcement released by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Waldof’s book, “ Wilhelm’s Way ,” is a finalist in the general nonfiction category. Her book is a biography about Harley Wilhelm, an Iowa chemist who played a key but largely unheralded role in building the atomic book. Wilhelm was also Waldof’s grandfather.

Peterson’s book, “ Rochester: An Urban Biography ,” is a finalist in the Minnesota History category. The book tells many of the stories that tend to be overshadowed by the Mayo Clinic-centric history of Rochester. Those stories include the area’s indigenous people, the hidden histories held in the unmarked graves of Potter’s Field, and the critical role played by agriculture in the region on karst, prairie landscape.

Nominees were chosen by 27 judges from around the state. Winners will be announced Tuesday, May 2 at the Book Awards ceremony at Ordway Center for the Performing arts in downtown St. Paul.

The nominees are:


Children’s Literature

  • "The Dark Was Done" by Lauren Stringer (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster).
  • "So Much Snow" by Kristen Schroeder; illustrated by Sarah Jacoby (Random House Studio/Penguin Random House).
  • "Where We Come From" by Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney & John Coy; illustrated by Dion MBD (Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing).
  • "You Are Life" by Bao Phi; illustrated by Hannah Li (Capstone Editions).

General Nonfiction

  • "Daughters of Arraweelo: Stories of Somali Women" by Ayaan Adan (Minnesota Historical Society Press).
  • "They Don’t Want Her There: Fighting Sexual and Racial Harassment in the American University" by Carolyn Chalmers (University of Iowa Press).
  • "Through the Banks of the Red Cedar: My Father and the Team That Changed the Game" by Maya Washington (Little A/Amazon Publishing).
  • "Wilhelm’s Way: The Inspiring Story of the Iowa Chemist Who Saved the Manhattan Project" by Teresa Wilhelm Waldof (Third Generation Publishing).

Genre Fiction

  • "The Quarry Girls" by Jess Lourey (Thomas & Mercer/Amazon Publishing).
  • "Sinister Graves" by Marcie R. Rendon (Soho Press).
  • "The Temps" by Andrew DeYoung (Keylight Books/ Turner Publishing Company).
  • "The Ursulina" by Brian Freeman (Blackstone Publishing).

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction

  • "Farewell Transmission: Notes from Hidden Spaces" by Will McGrath (Dzanc Books).
  • "Seven Aunts" by Staci Lola Drouillard (University of Minnesota Press).
  • "Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide" by Juliet Patterson (Milkweed Editions).
  • "The Way She Wants to Get There: Telling on Myself" by Mary Moore Easter (Nodin Press).

Middle Grade Literature

  • "The Counterclockwise Heart" by Brian Farrey (Algonquin Young Readers/Workman Publishing).
  • "Meet Me Halfway" by Anika Fajardo (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster).
  • "Monsters in the Mist" by Juliana Brandt (Sourcebooks for Young Readers/Sourcebooks).
  • "Windswept" by Margi Preus (Amulet Books/Abrams).

Emilie Buchwald Award for Minnesota Nonfiction

  • "A Natural Curiosity: The Story of the Bell Museum" by Lansing Shepard, Don Luce, Barbara Coffin, and Gwen Schagrin (University of Minnesota Press).
  • "Rochester: An Urban Biography" by Virginia M. Wright-Peterson (Minnesota Historical Society Press).
  • "The Steger Homestead Kitchen: Simple Recipes for an Abundant Life" by Will Steger and Rita Mae Steger with Beth Dooley (University of Minnesota Press).
  • "When Minnehaha Flowed with Whiskey: A Spirited History of the Falls" by Karen E. Cooper (Minnesota Historical Society Press).

Novel & Short Story

  • "The Barrens" by Kurt Johnson and Ellie Johnson (Arcade Publishing/Skyhorse Publishing).
  • "The Evening Hero" by Marie Myung-Ok Lee (Simon & Schuster).
  • "Sirens & Muses" by Antonia Angress (Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House).
  • "Till the Wheels Fall Off" by Brad Zellar (Coffee House Press).



  • "How to Communicate" by John Lee Clark (W.W. Norton & Co.).
  • "Real Work" by Janna Knittel (Nodin Press).
  • "Surface Displacements" by Sheila Packa (Wildwood River Press).
  • "The Wet Hex" by Sun Yung Shin (Coffee House Press).

Young Adult Literature

  • "Born in a Red Canoe" by Katharine Johnson (Silver Fox Books/self-published).
  • "The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen" by Gary Eldon Peter (Fitzroy Books/Regal House Publishing).
  • "Maxwell and the Legend of Inini-Makwa" by Simon Hargreaves (AHR Publishing).
  • "Mendel" by Damone Bester (The Story Plant).

Tickets for the awards ceremony are $22 and will be available at . The preface begins at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. There will be an option to access the livestream of the ceremony for free online.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or
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