Topeka, Kan. – Catherine Browder, of Kansas City, Mo., is the winner of the 2023 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Fiction for her collection of short fiction “Resurrection City: Stories from the Disaster Zone.”

      The stories in “Resurrection City” were inspired by a 2016 trip along the Tohoku Coast of Japan, still under heavy reconstruction following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and they fit a recurring theme in her work - the clash of cultures. Browder’s book also won the 2021 Spokane Prize from Willow Springs Books (Eastern Washington University). 

      Browder has lived in Lawrence, Kan., working in the special collections department at Spencer Research Library, in the political science department and at what was then the Applied Language Center for international students. She taught high school in Ottawa, Kan., and was an adjunct in the communications department at Johnson County Community College. From 2004-2009 she was teacher/facilitator for the Memory Project at the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Overland Park, Kan. The author of six books, with another forthcoming, her work has appeared in “Kansas Quarterly,” “New Letters,” “Nimrod,” “Ploughshares,” “Prairie Schooner,” “Shenandoah,” “Kansas City Noir” and elsewhere.

     Robert Stewart, long-time editor of “New Letters” quarterly magazine, “New Letters on the Air” and BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, served as judge. 

      About his selection, he wrote, “Catherine Browder’s sequence of stories ‘Resurrection City’ succeeds as both excellent storytelling and world-class reportage. Browder not only writes of the Japanese moment and cultural history but weaves in connections to her own American Midwest, which is reminiscent of other American chroniclers, such as Martha Gellhorn and Joan Dideon.  Those literary referents evoke another, singularly important, aspect of this book, which is the integrity of its language. You will find direct, honest and often invigorating imagery. As one character says, ‘I’ve come to the conclusion these conversations are the only way I know to shape a prayer.’”   

      Kansas Fiction Writers with book length works published in the past three years (2020/21/22) were eligible to enter and win the $1,000 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Fiction.  The annual award, rotating between poetry, fiction and nonfiction is sponsored by the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection at Washburn University in Topeka and the Friends of Mabee Library. There is no fee to enter.

      This year's award ceremony will be held 4 p.m. Friday, Sept.15, at Mabee Library on the Washburn University campus. This is the day before the annual Kansas Book Festival, on the Washburn University campus, Sept. 16.

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For further information, contact:

Tom Averill
Professor Emeritus of English
Joy Bailes
Assistant Director of Public Relations
Office: 785-670-2153
Cell: 785-230-1648


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