Iowa Author Awards - archive

2015 Iowa Author Awards

2015 Iowa Author Awards Dinner
"An Evening with Jane Smiley"

Tuesday, October 27 5:30 to 9:00 PM.
Des Moines Marriott Downtown
700 Grand Avenue

The evening will include:

  • Presentation by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Jane Smiley
  • A delicious dinner and wine
  • Live and silent auctions
  • The 2015 Iowa Author Awards and the Friend of Literacy Award
  • Book sales and author signing

Individual tickets are $150 ($100 tax deductible). Table sponsorships are also available. Please show you value the critical role the Des Moines Public Library plays in the life of our community by attending this year’s event! For reservations and information click below.

Questions? Please contact Dory Briles, DMPL Foundation Executive Director, at 515.248.6402 or

Sponsor Opportunities Form [pdf]

Ticket Reservation Form [pdf]

Jane Smiley

Jane SmileyJane Smiley received her Master’s and PhD from the University of Iowa. She taught English at Iowa State University for 15 years before returning to her home State of California. Smiley has published more than 25 novels for adults and young adults, as well as several short story collections. She won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for her novel, A Thousand Acres. Smiley was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 and received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006. Her latest novels, Some Luck (2014) and Early Warning (2015), are part of her Last Hundred Years trilogy involving an Iowa family over the course of several generations. Some Luck was a National Book Award Nominee. Her third book, Golden Age, will be available October 20.

2015 Honorees

The 2015 Friend of Literacy will be awarded to Nationwide, a longtime major donor to the Des Moines Public Library Foundation and supporter of literacy. You might know the company by their On Your Side® promise. Nationwide, a Fortune® 100 company, offers comprehensive solutions to members and partners in all 50 states. Nationwide offers a full suite of financial services, personal and commercial lines products. As an engaged community member, Nationwide makes a difference in the communities where they are located. Des Moines is a Nationwide regional headquarters. Nationwide was among the top seven largest donors to the Des Moines Public Library Capital Campaign. They have been long-time supporters of the Summer Reading & School Readiness Program and AViD (Authors Visiting in Des Moines).

Author Honorees:

Dr. Neil Nakadate, Iowa Author. Neil Nakadate is a graduate of Stanford University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at Indiana University. He is Professor Emeritus from Iowa State University after 40 years of teaching English, primarily American literature. Neil is a past President of the Board of Directors of Humanities Iowa. His writing has appeared in various publications, including Aethlon, Cottonwood, ISLE, and Annals of Internal Medicine. Neil has edited two books on Robert Penn Warren and has written a critical study on Jane Smiley (University of South Carolina Press, rev. ed. 2010). Neil is also an accomplished poet. His most recent book, featured in the 2014 AViD program, is Looking After Minidoka: An American Memoir (Indiana University Press, 2013), which blends stories of his family with the history of three generations of Japanese American life, from immigration through the 20th century.

Tim Johnston, Iowa Author. He is the author of the novel Descent, the story collection Irish Girl, and the Young Adult novel Never So Green. Published in 2009, the stories of Irish Girl won an O. Henry Prize, the New Letters Award for Writers, and the Gival Press Short Story Award, while the collection itself won the 2009 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Tim’s stories have appeared in the New England Review, New Letters, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, Double Take, Best Life Magazine, and Narrative Magazine, among others. He grew up in Iowa City and holds degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Tim currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Memphis.

Dr. William Friedricks, Special Interest Iowa Author. A southern California native, Bill Friedricks is professor of history and director of the Iowa History Center at Simpson College. He received his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Southern California. His dissertation became the basis for his first book, Henry E. Huntington and the Creation of Southern California (1992), which won the Donald H. Pflueger Award for the best book on southern California history. After coming to Simpson in 1988, Friedricks began looking for a local research topic, and on the suggestion of Luther Hill, Jr., he wrote a book on the Des Moines Register - Covering Iowa: The History of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company, 1849-1985 (2000). This project introduced him to Iowa history, and he has been involved in it ever since. He founded the Iowa History Center in 2006, and has written four more books on topics in Iowa history: In for the Long Haul: The Life of John Ruan (2003); Investing in Iowa: The Life and Times of F. M. Hubbell (2007); The Real Deal: The Life of Bill Knapp (2013); and Constructing a Legacy: The Weitz Company and the Family Who Built It (forthcoming).

Claudia McGehee, Children and Teen Iowa Author. McGehee is the author and illustrator of three award winning non-fiction picture books A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet, A Woodland Counting Book and , all from University of Iowa Press. Her most recent picture book, My Wilderness- An Alaskan Adventure, a non-fiction historic father-son memoir, was released March 3, 2015, by Sasquatch Books. McGehee is the illustrator of North Woods Girl, due out on October 1, 2015. Her distinctive scratchboard style can also be found nationally in museum exhibits, packaging, advertising, and magazines. A large part of her mission is to create art and writings that inspire and connect children of all ages with their natural world. She has lived in Iowa City for 22 years.

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