With Margaret Obank and Samuel Shimon in Barcelona, August 2019, celebrating the launch of Banipal Revista. Photo: Isabel Brito Farré.

By Jeremy Wang-Iverson

While this has been a difficult year, I would like to close on a positive note and mention the accolades received by our clients. What these authors and publishers share is a passion for their work and supporting them was a pleasure. Years were spent researching and writing their respective projects, in many cases finding a publisher was also a challenge, so now it’s gratifying to see this recognition. I would also like to express appreciation to Vesto associates Claudia Acevedo, Lani Harms, Kathryn Lopez, Colin Midson, Holly Mitchell, and Kurt Stengel for both their friendship and expertise throughout our collaborations.

Lary Bloom’s Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas – Finalist for 2020 Connecticut Book Award for Nonfiction. Announcement on CT Center for the Book.

Anu Bradford’s The Brussels Effect – Best Books of 2020, Foreign Affairs.  “This may well be the single most important book on Europe’s influence to appear in a decade,” wrote Andrew Moravcsik.

Krista Eastman’s The Painted ForestWinner, 2019 Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers.  

Appalachian Reckoning (edited by Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll) – Winner, 2020 Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award, American Book Awards; Winner, 2020 Weatherford Award for Nonfiction. Announcements on Bowdoin and Berea.

Massoud Hayoun’s When We Were Arabs Winner, 2020 Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award, Arab American Book Awards. Announcement on Arab American National Museum.

Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl – Winner, 2020 Whiting Award. Announcement on Mt. Holyoke.

David Lazar’s Celeste Holm Syndrome – Longlisted for 2021 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Judges: Sandra Cisneros, John D’Agata, Adam Gopnik. Announcement on PEN America; finalists to be announced in February 2021.

Amanda Michalopoulou’s God’s Wife (translated from the Greek by Patricia Felisa Barbeito) – Finalist for ALTA’s 2020 National Translation Award. Announcement on Publishing Perspectives.

Erik Nielson’s and Andrea L. Dennis’s Rap on Trial – Winner, 2020 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards. Announcement on Hugh M. Hefner Foundation.

Banipal ­(edited by Margaret Obank and Samuel Shimon) – Winner, 2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Publishing. Announcement on LitHub. “Lit Hub is proud of its partner publication Banipal magazine, recipient of the Publishing & Technology award, for showcasing contemporary Arab authors in English translation,” wrote Aaron Robertson.

Lizzie O’Shea’s Future Histories – Finalist for the 2020 Victorian Premier Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Judges: Ali Alizadeh, Joy Damousi, Quinn Eades, Jacinda Woodhead, Fatima Measham. Announcement on Wheeler Centre.

Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

  • Winner, 2020 The Story Prize.
  • Winner, 2020/2021, PEN/Faulkner Award. Judges: Charles Finch, Bernice L. McFadden, Alexi Zentner.
  • Winner, 2020 LA Times Book Prize (The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction). Judges: Melissa Chadburn, Jenny McPhee, Rick Whitaker.
  • Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. Judges: Roxane Gay (chair), Cristina Henríquez, Laird Hunt, Rebecca Makkai, Keaton Patterson. Announcement on Booktimist.

Richard Z. Santos’s Trust Me – Best Debut Novels of 2020, CrimeReads. “Trust Me is a novel that will stay with you for a very long time after reading,” wrote Dwyer Murphy.

Sejal Shah’s This Is One Way to Dance ­– Best Books of 2020, NPR. “The essays in Sejal Shah’s finely wrought debut explore congruent realities: to be born and bred in America while simultaneously embedded in the Gujarati diaspora,” wrote Martha Anne Toll.

This was the year of virtual events, which will mark a turning point in how launches are organized. While we hope for a return to crowded bookstores and convivial readings, the accessibility and flexibility provided by the format are undeniable advantages. As a bonus, we include one of our favorites, hosted by our friends at Loyalty Bookstores: Sharon Dolin discussing her memoir Hitchcock Blonde with Kim Addonizio.