For the third time in its twenty-seven-year history, Craig Childs has been awarded the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. The SONWA committee has selected Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America as the best in nature writing for 2018. Childs was awarded SONWAs in 2007 for The Animal Dialogues and in 2012 for Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of Earth.
“Like Barry Lopez, Craig Childs has proven to be one of those rare authors who weaves scientific and personal explorations of the natural world into narratives that are consistently artful and compelling,” said Alan Brew, executive director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute and an English professor who has served on the SONWA selection committee for twenty years.
Since 1991, the SONWA has honored the literary legacy of Sigurd Olson, who attended Northland College and is the namesake of the College’s environmental institute, by recognizing and encouraging contemporary writers who seek to carry on his tradition of nature writing.
Chosen from 58 nominations, Atlas of a Lost World chronicles the last millennia of the Ice Age, the violent oscillations and retreat of glaciers, the clues and traces that document the first encounters of early humans.
Part travelogue, Childs camped one night during a polar vortex on the ice on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin. “After that sleepless night fending off frostbite, I marched inland to camp in a snow shelter that I’d helped build a few days earlier with students from [Northland] College. . . .This was my idea of adaptation,” he writes.
Childs who lives outside Norwood, Colorado, is a regular commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, and his work appears regularly in High Country News, Orion, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times.
The SONWA Committee awarded an honorable mention to Elizabeth Rush for Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, recently named as a Pulitzer Prize finalist in nonfiction.
The SONWA Committee named three notable books: A Song for the Riverby Philip Connors, Interwoven: Junipers and the Web of Being, Kristen Rogers-Iversen, and Kings of the Yukon: One Summer Paddling Across the Far North, Adam Weymouth.
To read about the SONWA children’s award winners.