by Ernest Dempsey, staff writer
Carnival Lights by Native American author and speaker Chris Stark won the award for best fiction book at the 2022 Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA). Published last year by the Modern History Press of Michigan, the novel tells the engaging story of cultural survival through the eyes of two teenage Ojibwe girls from a northern Minnesota reservation.
NEMBA announced the award-winning titles and honorable mentions on its Lake Superior Writers Page. Results in each category included the winner and the honorable mention. Chris Stark’s Carnival Lights is listed as the winner in Fiction category with Thomas D Peacock’s The Wolf’s Trail receiving the honorable mention.
It’s relevant to mention that indigenous author Christine Stark has given multiple presentations at the United Nations on women’s survival and empowerment issues. Themes of gender and ethnicity are central to Carnival Lights and relevant to Stark’s writing and speaking career in creating social awareness. In recognizing Stark’s work in Carnival Lights, Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards Steering Committee acknowledges the literary values that represent the history, culture, heritage, and lifestyle of northeastern Minnesota.
Stark has a personal connection with Minnesota as she shared in a chat with Recovering the Self. She said, “The Minnesota State Fair figures prominently in this book, a place I’ve gone to many times since I was a young girl.” She explained that in her book, in contrast to the actual carnival lights and the carnival-like atmosphere of urban life, with skies lit up for miles even at night, she shows the lights from the stars and how stars figure into Ojibwe culture.
Beginning February 1st, 2023, NEMBA is open to receiving nominations for the next year’s awards, honoring books published in 2022. Nominations are accepted in six categories: Fiction, Poetry, Art/Photography, Children’s Literature, Memoir, and Nonfiction. Winners each receive a $200 cash prize and winning authors as well as the honorable mention receive a beveled glass award plus 100 NEMBA book seals.
For updates and details, visit https://lakesuperiorwriters.org/.