Literary Arts: The Archive Project

The Archive Project - 2021 Oregon Book Awards

By Crystal Ligori (OPB)
May 24, 2021 11:39 p.m.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our 34th annual Oregon Book Awards is presented in this special, state-wide broadcast and podcast episode, with special thanks to our partners at Oregon Public Broadcasting.


Since 1987, the Oregon Book Awards have celebrated the work of our state’s authors. This year, 173 books from 41 towns across Oregon were submitted. Out-of-state judges determined the finalists and winners. In this episode of The Archive Project, you’ll hear excerpts read by the winning authors themselves. We’re also thrilled to share an interview with Molly Gloss, this year’s CES Wood Award recipient, and archival audio of treasured Oregon writer Barry Lopez, who hosted the Awards in 2006 and received the CES Wood Award in 2008.

Our guest hosts for this special episode are Elena Passarello and Omar El Akkad, both of whom are previous Oregon Book Award winners themselves.



Elena Passarello is an actor, essayist, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Paris Review, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018, and has been translated into German, Italian, French, and Mandarin. She is the author of the essay collections “Let Me Clear My Throat” and “Animals Strike Curious Poses,” the latter of which won the 2018 Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction and made the Best Books of 2017 lists in the New York Times, Guardian, and Publisher’s Weekly. Passarello teaches creative writing at Oregon State University and appears weekly on the nationally-syndicated PRX radio variety show “LiveWire!.”

Omar El Akkad was born in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in Doha, Qatar until he moved to Canada with his family. He is an award-winning journalist and author who has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, the military trials at Guantànamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. His debut novel is “American War,” for which he won the Oregon Book Award for Fiction. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Molly Gloss is the author of several novels including “The Jump-Off Creek,” “The Dazzle of Day,” “Wild Life,” “The Hearts of Horses” and “Falling From Horses,” as well as the story collection “Unforeseen.” She writes both realistic fiction and science fiction, and her work has received, among other honors, a PEN West Fiction Prize, an Oregon Book Award, two Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. A fourth-generation Oregonian, she lives in Portland.

Barry Lopez was the author of three collections of essays, including “Horizon;” several story collections; “Arctic Dreams,” for which he received the National Book Award; “Of Wolves and Men,” a National Book Award finalist; and “Crow and Weasel,” a novella-length fable. He contributed regularly to both American and foreign journals and traveled to more than seventy countries to conduct research. He was the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundations and was honored by a number of institutions for his literary, humanitarian, and environmental work. He died in 2020.