Three authors with Spokane connections are finalists for Washington State Book Awards

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The paperback cover for Vestal's Daredevils.
  • The paperback cover for Vestal's Daredevils.
Finalists for one of the state's most prestigious literary honors, the Washington State Book Awards, were announced today, and that list includes Spokane's own Shawn Vestal, for his 2016 debut novel Daredevils.

Vestal, a well-known and -respected columnist for the Spokesman-Review, is joined on the list of finalists in eight categories by two well-known authors with Spokane roots: Sherman Alexie, for his first children's book, Thunder Boy Jr. (make sure to check out last week's issue of the Inlander for our cover story on Alexie, by 2016 award finalist and fellow author Shann Ray), and Timothy Egan, for his latest nonfiction work, The Immortal Irishman.

Organized by the Seattle Public Library, this is the 51st year of the Washington State Book Awards, which recognizes books published during the previous year. Winners in each of the eight genre categories, which includes poetry, nonfiction, memoir and young reader titles, are set to be announced during an awards celebration on Oct. 14.

"A book award is given based on the strength of the publication's literary merit, lasting importance and overall quality to an author who was born in Washington state or is a current resident and has maintained residence here for at least three years," states the Seattle Public Library.

Spokane's solid literary scene is no stranger to the Washington State Book Awards: last year's winner in the fiction category was Sharma Shields, for her debut novel The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac. In 2015, Mead author Bruce Holbert took that category for his novel The Hour of Lead, and was joined in the poetry category by current Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, also of Spokane.

Egan has won the Washington State Book Award a total of five times, twice in the past decade — in 2013 (Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis) and in 2010 (The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America). Alexie has received the award twice, most recently in 2008 for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.