Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sara Paretsky Named 2011 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America

Personally, I think this is a little late in coming to Sara Paretsky.  But, here's the announcement as given by Margery Flax, of Mystery Writers of America.

"Sara Paretsky has been chosen as this year’s Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Ms. Paretsky will be presented with her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2011. When told of being named Grand Master, Paretsky said, “I'm so glad to win this. I'm glad to have this for my very own."

Paretsky revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 with her novel Indemnity. The book introduced detective V.I. Warshawski, a female private investigator who used her wits and fists, challenging a genre in which women typically played minor or passive roles. Paretsky, who lives in Chicago, has written twelve best-selling Warshawski novels.  She has also penned a memoir, two stand-alone novels, a collection of short stories, and has edited four anthologies. In 1986 Paretsky founded Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports women crime writers, earning her MS Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year Award. The British Crime Writers awarded Paretsky both the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement and the Gold Dagger for best novel of 2004.  Her books are currently published in thirty countries.

"The mystery genre took a seven-league stride thanks to Sara Paretsky, whose gutsy and dauntless protagonist showed that women can be tough guys, too," said Larry Light, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America. "Before, in Sara's words, women in mysteries were either vamps or victims. Her heroine, private eye V.I. Warshawski, is whip-smart and two-fisted, capable of slugging back whiskey and wrecking cars, and afire to redress social injustice."

Two exceptional mystery bookstores will be honored with the 2011 Raven Award. Established in 1953, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Once Upon a Crime, in Minneapolis, MN, and Centuries & Sleuths in Chicago, IL, will receive recognition for their contribution to the mystery community. They also will receive theirawards at the Edgar Award Banquet in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2011.

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore was named one of the Ten Best Bookstores in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune. Many customers have tagged the owner, Augie Alesky, as the coolest bookseller in Chicago. "I have always wanted a Raven. The mystery community is such a great place,” Alesky said upon hearing the news.

The store has hosted hundreds of author readings and talks, with both new and established writers. Augie’s programs are innovative,
including mock trials, debates, and numerous “Meeting of Minds” programs similar to the PBS series. In fact, from the very first days
of opening, actors and then authors themselves were encouraged to dress in period costumes to illustrate and dramatize a book.  Centuries & Sleuths was nominated for the American Booksellers Association “Bookseller of the Year” award in 2008. The store marks its 20th Anniversary this year.

Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore owners Pat Frovarp and Gary Schulze read, review, promote, and hand-sell mysteries, from small
presses and new authors to the biggest best- sellers. Pat was thrilled to hear about the Raven Award, "What a wonderful, wonderful honor!"
she said.

Their store is open late to host signings for local and traveling authors, and they host an annual Write of Spring. Every March dozens of Minnesota mystery authors are able to meet hundreds of fans and celebrate the world of mysteries. They are currently taking submissions for a Write of Spring anthology. Pat and Gary are such mystery book enthusiasts that they married at their store on August 1, 2007, five years to the day that they had bought the store from the previous owners. In their wedding photos, Pat held a bouquet of flowers, and Gary held a Maltese Falcon statue. Once Upon a Crime will celebrate 25 years in business in Spring 2012.

Previous Raven winners include Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

Previous Grand Masters include Dorothy Gilman, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis,
Mary Higgins Clark, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

The Edgar Awards, or "Edgars," as they are commonly known, are named after MWA's patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories.  Celebrating their 65th anniversary in 2010, MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses almost 3,000 members in three categories of membership that include authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website:'/


kathy d. said...

Amen! Sara Paretsky should have won that award years ago. But now that she is, congratulations.

I love her books. When asked who my favorite detective is, I always answer "V.I. Warshawski," on any Internet quiz, anywhere.

I think I bought most of them until a few years ago.

Reading her books really made me think that women can do anything and everything (including jump into the canal in Chicago), and be brave, competent, brilliant, and independent--and physically fit.

Such congratulations to Sara Paretsky. Her stand-alones, her prefaces, her essays and her principled attitude make her a truly great author and woman.

Margaret said...

Well deserved award for Sara, whose books really show the shenanigans that go on in Chicago. And also a well deserved award for Augie Alesky's Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore. It's a great place to meet your favorite mystery authors.
Margaret Franson

Lesa said...

I agree with you, kathy. I'm a big fan of her essays and principled attitude as much as her crime novels. It is a well-deserved award.

Lesa said...


I hope Chicago knows what treasures they have in their authors and their bookstore. It sounds as if they recognized Centuries and Sleuths for its quality. And, I'm sure they know what they have in Sara Paretsky.

kathy d. said...

I grew up in Chicago. I still miss that city, and I enjoy V.I. Warshawski's adventures evermore so because of this.

I wish that I had visited the bookstores cited on the blog. Mysteries bookstores are another one of the wonderful aspects of paper books--that entire world of people and books, as are libraries.

So, kudos to these bookstores.

Bev Stephans said...

Congratulations to Sara Paretsky. A well-deserved award.

Lesa said...


I would imagine that Paretsky and V.I. Warshawski do bring back memories of Chicago. It was time for her to win this award.

I agree with you. How are e-book readers ever going to replace the delight of a bookstore or library?

Lesa said...


You're right. It's a well-deserved award, and a long time coming.