The Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award was established in 1979 by AAUW-KC to honor Thorpe Menn (1912-1979), long-time book editor of the Kansas City Star, who supported all aspects of Kansas City’s cultural life, especially authors and artists.
Recap of Past Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award Events
2018 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Carey Gillam
The 2018 Thorpe Menn award was presented to Carey Gillam for her book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science. The first runnerup was Maril Crabtree for her book of poetry, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark; and the second runnerup was Jen Mann for My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits.
Special thanks to award-winning author Loring Leifer who captivated the audience with her keynote address, “Confessions of a Collaborator: My Career as a Cold-Blooded Writer”; Crosby Kemper who welcomed everyone and spoke of the direction of the library and the true powers of women; and Genealogist and AAUW member Kathleen Brandt our presenter and storyteller for the day.
2017 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Loring Leifer
The 2017 Thorpe Menn award was presented to Loring Leifer for her book, Angels with Angles: The Rogue Nuns behind Operation Breakthrough. The finalists were A.J. Culey for her book series titled Tyrabbisaurus Rex and Erich Wurster for The Coaster.
Special thanks to our keynote speaker Patrick Dobson, honored writer, scholar and poet, the attentive staff at the Kansas City Library, our table hosts, and all who participated on our committees.
2016 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Patrick Dobson
The 2016 Literary Excellence Award was presented to Patrick Dobson for his bookCanoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer. The finalists were: Andrea Warren for The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas and James P. Muehlberger, The 116: The True Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Lost Guard.
Special thanks to our keynote speaker Barbara Stuber, award-winning author and museum docent, Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren of Rainy Day Books, and the Kansas City Public Library.
2015 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Barbara Stuber
The 2015 Literary Excellence Award was presented to Barbara Stuber for her book Girl In Reverse. The two finalists included Arlin Buyert for “Oh Say Can You See” and Alarie Tennille, Running Counterclockwise. Congratulations to all of the 26 nominated authors!
AAUW-KC honored Vivien Jennings, founder and president of Rainy Day Books, for over a decade of generous support of the Thorpe Menn Award. Special thanks to keynote speaker Maija Rhee Devine, noted Korean-born author and 2014 Thorpe Menn winner, and all of our table hostesses and volunteers.
2014 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Maija Rhee Devine
On October 4, 2014, the 36th annual Literary Excellence Award was presented to Maija Rhee Devine for her book The Voices of Heaven. The finalists were: Suzanne Kelly for Stolen Child and Deborah Shouse, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregivers Journey. Congratulations to all of the 26 nominated authors!
AAUW-KC honored Crosby Kemper III for a decade of generous support of the Thorpe Menn Award – with his help we have been able to honor and recognize over 150 local authors.
Special thanks to keynote speaker Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star Editorial Columnist; Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren of Rainy Day Books; and all of our table hostesses and volunteers.
2013 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Samuel Arbesman
The award was presented to Samuel Arbesman for his book The Half-Life of Facts. The finalists were: Hughes Keenan, The Harvest Is Past; and Debra McArthur, A Voice for Kanzas. Congratulations to all 17 nominated local authors!
“35 Authors: Where Are They Now?”, a special tribute to the past winners, was presented by guest speaker Vivien Jennings, president of Rainy Day Books. The tribute was a compilation of author interviews, research, and a video produced by event and reading committee members.
2012 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Candice Millard
Over 100 authors, members and guests gathered at the Central Library for the 34th Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award on October 6, 2012. The award was presented to Candice Millard for her book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.
The finalists for this year’s award were Carolyn Glenn Brewer for Caught Ever After – Children of the Ruskin Heights Tornado; and Andrea Warren, Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London.
Congratulations to all of the 2012 nominated local authors!
“Who Was Thorpe Menn?”, a theatrical performance, was presented as an homage to Thorpe Menn (1912–1979), longtime book editor of The Kansas City Star. We were honored to have his daughters, Gretchen Menn and Becky Menn-Hamblin in attendance, traveling from Virginia and Tennessee!
Watch the tribute performance at http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9251662/who_was_thorpe_menn/.
2011 Thorpe Menn Award goes to Christie Hodgen
The 2011 award went to Christie Hodgen for Elegies for the Brokenhearted. The finalists were Tasha Haas for Certain Dawn, Inevitable Dawn, and Barbara Stuber, Crossing the Tracks.
Candice Millard, distinguished local author, delivered the keynote address, and captivated the audience with details about her new book, The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine & the Murder of a President.
2010 – 32nd
2009 – 31st
What’s Right About What’s Wrong: Poems
2008 – 30th
Five Island Diaries: Stories of Love, Lost and Found
2007 – 29th
My Other Body: A Memoir of Love, Fat, Life and Death
2006 – 28th
Deadlocked: A Novel
2005 – 27th
Max J. Skidmore
After the White House: Former Presidents as Private Citizens
2004 – 26th
Outside Language: Essays
2003 – 25th
Into the Labyrinth: A Novel
2002 – 24th
The Year the Colored Sisters Came to Town
2001 – 23rd
The Whole Truth
2000 – 22nd
Red Silk: Poems
1999 – 21st
Papabile: The Man Who Would Be Pope
Cecile M. Franking
From Ink and Sandalwood
1998 – 20th
Debra Di Blasi
Drought & Say What You Like
1997 – 19th
Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
1996 – 18th
Thomas C. Fox
Sexuality and Catholicism
1995 – 17th
G. P. Schultz
Incident at Simms Center
1994 – 16th
Promesas: Geography of the Impossible
1993 – 15th
J. J. Maloney
The Pariah’s Handbook: A Literary Guide to the Underworld
1992 – 14th
A Naturalist’s Cabin: Constructing a Dream
1991 – 13th
Conger Beasley, Jr.
Sundancers and River Demons: Essays on Landscape and Ritual
1990 – 12th
C. W. Gusewelle
Far From Any Coast: Pieces of America’s Heartland
1989 – 11th
Wrapped Minds and Other Essays, Reviews and Commentaries of Art, Politics and Real Life
1988 – 10th
John M. Swomley
Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context
1987 – 9th
Richard L. Miller
Truman: The Rise to Power
1986 – 8th
The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball
1985 – 7th
Robert M. Farnsworth
Melvin B. Tolson, 1898-1996: Plain Talk and Poetic Prophecy
1984 – 6th
Design for Human Scale
1983 – 5th
The Touched Life: Poems, Selected and New
1982 – 4th
Janice Young Brooks
1981 – 3rd
W. R. “Doc” Wilson
Fur, Feathers, and Scalps: A Collection of Short Stories
1980 – 2nd
Looking for America: A Writer’s Odyssey
1979 – 1st
Theodore: A Novel