William Kent Krueger
William Kent Krueger

Edgar and Me

Edgar and MeIn Minnesota, killing someone isn’t the worst crime you can commit. The worst crime is what we call here “getting the big head.” This means letting an honor or some publicly recognized good work make you believe that you’re better than other folks. In my own mind, this isn’t quite as bad as murder, but it’s not a good thing either.

I couldn’t be happier having won the Edgar Award for my novel Ordinary Grace. In so many ways, it feels like the culmination of a lot of years of hard work. Not just the writing of a dozen plus novels, but all the ceaseless labor to get those books into readers’ hands.

When I was given the award at the ceremony in New York City last week, the meat of my acceptance was simply this: “To write, to be published, to be read, to be appreciated. What more could any storyteller ask for?”

I have a great deal for which to be thankful. And I know something important that will, I hope, help keep me from getting the big head. It’s this: All storytellers hope for recognition and for reward, and in a just universe, we would all receive these things in equal measure. The reality, however, is that too many fine, beautiful, powerfully written stories don’t find a proper audience. It has nothing to do with their quality, but rather a mountain of elements beyond anyone’s control. Ordinary Grace is a good book.  Hell, it’s a wonderful book.  But there are others out there just as deserving of the kind of recognition this novel has received.  So in the end, I realize that I am both lucky and blessed.

I hope the same for all of you out there who are in pursuit of your own dreams, whatever they may be.

9 thoughts on “Edgar and Me”

  1. Congratulations! An Edgar is no ordinary prize. Sunday I finished Ordinary Grace and I find myself thinking about the characters, the setting, the struggles, the unresolved, and the seemingly resolved. Thank you for one of the best reads of my life.
    I spoke with you in Fremont, Nebraska not so long ago. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I am a 71 year old born-again reader, thanks in part to you and a skillful ophthalmologist.
    Interesting to me is that somewhere I read that you admired the writings of tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke. I read all of Hillerman’s works and most of burke’s works and all of your adult mysteries.
    I look forward to the next Corcoran O’Connor story!
    Best,
    Wes Wingett

  2. Kent,

    Hearty congratulations on winning the Edgar! It will go nicely with all the awards for Cork.

    I finished Ordinary Grace last week. Once again you have captured that Minnesota feeling. Though I was only 5 in the summer of ’61(!), I recognize so much from my youth: the freedom, the fear of and joy in the lakes and rivers of home. The neighbors who knew exactly what you were doing (and would tell your mother).

    Happily awaiting the next Cork!

  3. I have enjoyed all of your books as you make the characters seems as real people from a real place. Sometimes I forget that what I am reading is fiction. I am looking forward to seeing your next project;at least I hope that there is one in the works.

  4. I recently finished Ordinary Grace and I have to agree with an earlier writer, I keep thinking about the characters and how they dealt with the circumstances they confronted. This is such a well written and well thought out novel. The characters, especially the the narrator, who is so alive within the pages. All of the awards are so well deserved. A Pulitzer should be one of them. Excellent novel.

  5. Congrats, Kent. As a Fan, I was reluctant to pick up Ordinary Grace. But I heard/read you say “I put everything I know about writing into this book” and the writer in me had to at least take a look. You had me from the first page. And while it’s in me to enjoy the Cork books more per se, the writing in Ordinary Grace is extraordinary. Really well done. I should be so courageous in my own writing.
    Glad you won the Edgar (and all those other awards) for this one. Score one for great writing.

  6. Ditto what Michael K. and Susan Johnston wrote – except I was NOT reluctant to pick it up. I had heard you talk about Ordinary Grace at B and N, Har-Mar and how you were concerned because the publisher wasn’t gung ho. I have recommended it to many friends and our book group will read it. Ordinary Grace transported me back to early childhood summers. I could smell them and tasted the cherry kool-aid. I love how you can write about a preacher without ever being preachy. If you ever get movie rights, go for it. All my senses became involved with the book and I would love to see it get an even wider audience.

    Kudos to you for stepping out of the box!! (Tamarack County is a great box though.) Do it again. Keep encouraging others to follow their heart and be creative. I hope publishers give more fantastic writing a chance, even (or especially!) if it doesn’t follow their preconceived notions.

    Currently I’m reading a soon to be published book (for book group) that is a bunch of romantic drivel with predictable plot and characters. Publisher has a big launch planned, and unfortunately the book will probably sell because too many people like the predictable, easy readability and believe the publicity hype.

    I hope and pray that publisher’s will take chances on quality and not just sell-a billity, because in an ideal world, the former would drive the latter. Thanks for putting your heart into Ordinary Grace.

  7. I was the first to check out Ordinary Grace from my library and have recommended it to everyone I meet and spread the word through my Facebook page. Most excellent

  8. A bit of irony to share. I became aware of Ordinary Grace through Louise Penny, who was, as you know, also nominated for an Edgar this year. She was glowing in her praise of your book, so I immediately began searching my local library to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I had to put the book on hold, as someone already had it checked out and there was a line. I was finally notified and checked out the book on May 21. I was 17 in 1961, so the timeline was perfect. Raised in a small town, (in Kansas) too, and…finished the book on Memorial Day, 2014. Thanks for a great read. Am off to the library tomorrow to meet Cork O’Connor. From what I’m reading from the other comments, he just might measure up to Armand Gamache.

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