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Originally published Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:01 AM

2011 Washington State Book Awards winners

This year's Washington State Book Award winners include "Matterhorn" by Karl Marlantes, "The Bled" by Frances McCue, "The Hustle" by Douglas Merlino and "The Long Way Home" by David Laskin.

Seattle Times book editor

quotes Congratulations Erik Brooks for writing and illustrating Polar Penguins! Read more

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This year's Washington State Book Award winners include a veteran's novel of the Vietnam War, decades in the making; poetry inspired by the loss of a spouse; the story of a mixed-race kids' basketball team in Seattle's Central District in the 1980s; and a chronicle of American immigrants who returned to their native countries in Europe to fight the great war.

The winners, announced today by the Washington Center for the Book, go to seven outstanding books published by authors either born in Washington, or residing here for at least three years.

Fiction

"Matterhorn" by Karl Marlantes (Grove/Atlantic). Marlantes, a Vietnam veteran, worked for 30 years on this novel. Set in 1969, "Matterhorn" is the story of a group of twenty-something soldiers going through the Vietnam version of hell; driving toward an impossible target, flogged on by a clueless commander. Marlantes lives in Woodinville.

Poetry

"The Bled" by Frances McCue (Factory Hollow Press). "The Bled" is a poetry collection based on McCue's experiences in Marrakech, Morocco, where she and her family were living when her husband, Gary Greaves, died unexpectedly in 2009. McCue is writer in residence at the University of Washington honors college.

Biography/Memoir

"The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White" by Doug Merlino (Bloomsbury). The story of a mixed-race basketball team of Seattle middle-school kids in the 1980s, composed of black kids from the Central District and white kids who attended Lakeside. Merlino was part of the team and uses its story to illuminate lingering issues of race and class in Seattle. Born in Washington, Merlino now lives in New York.

History/General Nonfiction

"The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War" by David Laskin (Harper). Seattle author Laskin's history follows the stories of a dozen men who emigrated from Europe, found a new home in America, then returned to their native lands to fight in World War I. Laskin is a previous winner — he won in 2005 for his book "The Children's Blizzard" and in 2001 for "Partisans."

Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award winners:

For a picture book: "Polar Opposites," written and illustrated by Erik Brooks of Winthrop in Okanogan County (Marshall Cavendish). The story of two pen pals, a polar bear and a penguin, at opposite ends of the Earth.

Books for early readers (6-9 years old): "Guinea Dog" by Patrick Jennings of Port Townsend (Egmont USA). Fifth-grader Rufus wants a dog, but gets a guinea pig instead. Complications ensue.

Middle grades and young adults (10- to 18-year-olds): "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer" by Lish McBride of Seattle (Henry Holt). Sam, a skateboarder/vegetarian/fry cook who can summon the dead, gets kidnapped by a more powerful necromancer, who forces him to train with him or be eliminated.

The winners and finalists will be honored at a celebration from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 12 at Seattle's Richard Hugo House. Sponsored by Hugo House and the Seattle Public Library Foundation, the event is free and open to the public. For more information call Hugo House at 206-322-7030 or go to www.hugohouse.org.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357

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