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Eugene author wins Kesey award.

Byline: The Register-Guard

"His Mother's Son" by Cai Emmons of Eugene won the Ken Kesey Award for the Novel in the Oregon Book Awards.

Emmons is an assistant professor in the University of Oregon's creative writing program. Her novel, published in January by Harcourt Books, is a psychological thriller about an emergency room physician hiding a secret - that her troubled younger brother is a killer - and worrying about the anti-social behavior of her 6-year-old son.

Judge Pam Houston described Emmons' novel as "both extremely suspenseful and deeply complicated, which in my experience is a rare combination."

Emmons said Friday that it was "very, very gratifying" to win the award and that she appreciated the judge's comments about the book's complexity. "It wasn't my intention to write a page-turner," she said, noting that suspense can make a literary work more accessible but may obscure its deeper layers.

Emmons has nearly finished another novel, "Pizzazz," about a Harvard dropout-turned-hairstylist. She says it is has comedic elements and doesn't "travel quite such dark territory" as "His Mother's Son."

The other finalists in the novel category were "Learning to Fly" by April Henry of Portland, "A Name of Her Own" by Jane Kirkpatrick of Moro and "Fire's Edge" by Alan Siporin of Eugene.

The awards were announced Thursday in Portland.

Other winners:

Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry: Rita Ott Ramstad of Brightwood for "The Play of Dark and Light."

H.L. Davis Award for Short Fiction: Tracy Daugherty of Corvallis for "It Takes a Worried Man"

Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction: Barbara Mahoney of Wilsonville for "Dispatches and Dictators"

Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction: Chris Chester of Portland for "Providence of a Sparrow" and Floyd Skloot of Amity for "In the Shadow of Memory"

Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children's Literature: Eric A. Kimmel of Portland for "Three Samurai Cats"

Leslie Bradshaw Award for Young Adult Literature: Heather Vogel Frederick of Portland for "The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed"

Each winning author received $500 (except for creative nonfiction). All finalists will be invited to take part in the Oregon Book Award Author Tour, which sends finalists to Oregon public libraries and independent bookstores.

Poet Clemens Starck of Dallas presented the C.E.S. Wood Retrospective Award, which celebrates a distinguished career in Oregon letters, to George Hitchcock, a poet, playwright, fiction writer, editor, publisher, journalist and teacher.

From 1964 to1984, Hitchcock edited and published kayak, a literary magazine that played a major role in the poetry scene of the mid-to-late 20th century.

The Oregon Book Awards is a program of Literary Arts, a statewide, nonprofit arts group.
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Title Annotation:"His Mother's Son" by Cai Emmons takes the top novel prize; Arts & Literature
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 15, 2003
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