Book Reviews | Literary Arts | Visual Arts

2014 15 Bytes Book Awards


We are pleased to announce the 2014 15 Bytes Book Awards. The 15 Bytes Book Awards, currently in its second year, celebrates exceptional books of poetry, fiction and visual art published in the previous calendar year based on each book’s quality/craftsmanship of writing, level of engagement and how it uniquely represents the state of Utah (nominated works must be by a Utah author or have as its theme or location a Utah connection). Judges were select staff writers at 15 Bytes Magazine, published by Artists of Utah. Winners receive a modest cash award.

This year’s winner in fiction is The Legend’s Daughter (Torrey House Press) by Salt Lake City author David Kranes. In this exceptional collection of stories set mostly in Idaho in the deep backwoods along river banks and lonely county roads, Kranes’ characters are all thrown out of their comfort zones. And so is the reader. Richly drawn and complex, these stories challenge the intellect. Kranes has managed to somehow dam the river of souls these stories possess. They do not lie still, however, between the covers but rather spin in far-reaching whirlpools of genuine humanity and mortality.

In the poetry collection division, the winner is Topaz (Four Way Books) by San Francisco-based Brian Komei Dempster. In his debut collection titled after the Japanese relocation camp established outside Delta, Utah, Dempster braids the tragic past of his own ancestors unjustly incarcerated by the American government during World War II with the residual effects in the poet’s contemporary life. Dazzling, often raw and pleasingly dis-jointed, Dempster’s poetry unpacks the devastation, endurance and residual hauntings of Topaz in a bracing collision course with contemporary Japanese American life, particularly its youth.

Short-listed for the poetry prize are Door of Thin Skins (CavanKerry Press) by Shira Dentz and The Earth is Not Flat (Red Hen Press) by Katharine Coles. In Dentz’s fever dream of abuse in a patient/doctor relationship, the typographical and prose poetry mirrors the disintegration of the confused mind of the patient in a tour de force that is as curiously ennobling as it is shocking. Coles’ meditation on life and nature in Antarctica is an elegantly crafted work whose subjects, reflected in the ice at the bottom of the globe, are history, science, art, the mind, and  the heart, and whose forms range from the generation of spare lists to experiments in erasure.  Our judges were delighted to find the former Utah Poet Laureate at her most refined in this volume.

For Art Book, 15 Bytes has chosen to honor Final Light: The Life and Art of V. Douglas Snow, edited by Frank McEntire and published by the University of Utah Press. Grounded by a number of essays by local writers, critics and friends, and a plethora of fine reproductions of the artists magnificent abstract celebrations of the western landscape, the book is a testament to the accomplishment and influence of the long-time University of Utah professor.

Short-listed for the Art Book award is Kenvin — An Artist’s Kitchen: Food, Art & Wisdom of a Bohemian Cowboy, published by Gibbs Smith. Published posthumously, and a dozen years in the making, the book deftly blends the artist’s vivid paintings of farmers, produce and products with over 125 recipes.

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