2020 Literary Awards


2020 Awards Announcements

The Literary Awards Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association annually selects outstanding books by Wisconsin-connected authors and awards the WLA Literary Award, Outstanding Books of the Year, and Notable Wisconsin Authors/Illustrators.

WLA Literary Award

This award is for the highest literary achievement by an author with a Wisconsin connection, for a work written in the previous year.

The Far Field

Madhuri Vijay

The Far Field is Madhuri Vijay’s first novel, and tells the story of Shalini, a young woman from a well-to-do family in Bangalore, who has been drifting from job to job, while trying to understand her relationship with her mother, who has recently passed away. Shalini remembers visits from a clothes salesman, Bashir Ahmed, during her childhood, and that Bashir seemed important to her mother. She decides to find Bashir and embarks on what will prove a life-changing journey into the troubled region of Kashmir, where political tension and remnants of conflict can still be felt. While boarding with a kind family in a remote village, Shalini starts to think she can give something to these people and their lives. Ultimately, her efforts are ill-suited, and the novel deftly portrays how well-meaning philanthropy can be undone by the naivety of privilege.

Reading The Far Field during the early weeks of the pandemic shut down, committee members deeply appreciated the armchair travel to Bangalore and Kashmir, while remaining rooted in Wisconsin. Vijay attended Lawrence University in Appleton, and says, “I loved my time there, and the teachers I had at Lawrence were instrumental in my becoming a writer at all. To be recognized in any way as a writer is gratifying, but to be recognized in relationship to a place I love so much is doubly so.”

About the Author

Madhuri Vijay was born and raised in Bangalore. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Non-Required Reading, Narrative Magazine, and Elle India, among other publications. The Far Field is her first book. 


Outstanding Achievement Award

These are Wisconsin authors & illustrators recognized for outstanding achievement for books published in the previous year.

Honored Authors:

Nickolas Butler, Little Faith
Jennifer Chiaverini, Resistance Women 
Jaquira Diaz, Ordinary Girls 
Krista EastmanThe Painted Forest
John Hildebrand The Long Way Round 
Tom Miller The Philosopher's War 
Jake Wolff The History of Living Forever

Honored Poets:

Aria Aber, Hard Damage
Oliver Baez Bendorf, Advantages of Being Evergreen
Robin Chapman, The Only Home We Know
Patrick Johnson, Gatekeeper
Nada Kasim, et al., The First Winter
Jesse Lee Kercheval, America That Island Off the Coast of France
Andrea Potos, Mothershell
William Stobb, You are Still Alive