2021 Florida Book Awards winners announced

With its 16th annual competition now complete, the Florida Book Awards has announced winners for books published in 2021. More than 130 eligible publications were submitted across the 11 categories of competition.

The Florida Book Awards, coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries, is the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program. It was established in 2006 to celebrate the best of Florida literature. Authors must be full-time Florida residents, except in the Florida nonfiction, visual arts and cooking categories, where the subject matter must focus on Florida.

The winning authors from across the state will be honored at the annual awards banquet on April 7 at Parkview at Cascades in Tallahassee. The public is invited to attend. Please contact floridabookawards@gmail.com or (850) 644-5211 for more information or tickets.

Florida Book Awards 2021 Winners by Category


Gold: Alexandra Alessandri (Miami), “Isabel and Her Colores Go to School” (Sleeping Bear Press)

Silver: Moira Rose Donohue (St. Petersburg), “Stompin’ at the Savoy: How Chick Web Became the King of Drums” (Sleeping Bear Press)

Bronze: Rob Sanders (Brandon), “Stitch by Stitch: Cleve Jones and the AIDS Memorial Quilt” (Magination Press)


Gold: Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Coral Gables), “Concealed” (Scholastic)

Silver: Rodman Philbrick (Marathon), “Wild River” (Scholastic)

Bronze: James Ponti (Orlando), “Golden Gate” (Simon and Schuster)


Gold: Les Standiford (Pinecrest), “Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling, and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus” (PublicAffairs, Hachette Book Group)

Silver: Brandon T. Jett (LaBelle), “Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South: African American Law Enforcement in Birmingham, Memphis and New Orleans, 1920-1945” (LSU Press)

Bronze: Larry Loftis (Altamonte Springs), “The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones” (Atria Books)


GOLD: Lauren Groff (Gainesville), “Matrix” (Riverhead Books)

SILVER: Patricia Engel (Key Biscayne), “Infinite Country” (Avid Reader Press)

BRONZE: Dantiel W. Moniz (Jacksonville), “Milk Blood Heat” (Grove Atlantic)

BRONZE: Brenda Peynado (Lutz), “The Rock Eaters” (Penguin)


GOLD: Jason Vuic (Fort Worth, Texas), “The Swamp Peddlers: How Lot Sellers, Land Scammers, and Retirees Built Modern Florida and Transformed the American Dream” (University of North Carolina Press)

SILVER: Larry Eugene Rivers (Tallahassee), “Father James Page: An Enslaved Preacher’s Climb to Freedom” (The Johns Hopkins University Press)

BRONZE: Austin J. Bell (Marco Island), “The Nine Lives of Florida’s Famous Key Marco Cat” (University Press of Florida)


GOLD: Gloria Muñoz (St. Petersburg), “Danzirly” (University of Arizona Press)

SILVER: Julia Koets (Tampa), “Pine” (Southern Indiana Review Press)

BRONZE: John Davis Jr. (Riverview), “The Places That Hold” (EastOver Press)


GOLD: Noel Zamot (Tarpon Springs), “The Archer’s Thread” (Palmetto Publishing)

SILVER: Al Pessin (Delray Beach), “Blowback” (Kensington)

BRONZE: Jenna Kernan (Sarasota), “A Killer’s Daughter” (Bookouture)


GOLD: Hernán Vera Álvarez (Miami), “Vacaciones sin hotel: Antología de autores del Sur de la Florida” (Ediciones AGUAMIEL)

SILVER: Carmen Duarte (Miami), “Etnia, raza y sexualidad en la dramaturgia femenina hispano-caribeña en los Estados Unidos” (Letra Capital)

BRONZE: Uva de Aragón (Miami), “El reino de la infancia- Memorias de mi vida en Cuba” (Eriginal Books)


GOLD: Jim Miller (Tallahassee), “The Art of Birds: Grace and Motion in the Wild” (University Press of Florida)


GOLD: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman (Jacksonville), “ROXY” (Simon and Schuster)

Submissions for the 2021 awards were read by juries of three members. Jurors are authorized to select up to three medalists (one gold winner, one silver runner-up and one bronze medalist) in each of the 11 categories; jurors are also authorized to make no selections in a given year.

The Florida State University Libraries coordinate the Florida Book Awards with assistance from co-sponsors, including the State Library and Archives of Florida, the Florida Humanities Council, Midtown Reader and Word of South.

Learn more about the Florida Book Awards at https://www.floridabookawards.org/.