Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Memoir / Autobiography

  • Finalist

    Daughter of Korean Freud

    by Heawon Hake

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot/Idea: This work provides a first-hand recounting of the author's journey of self-discovery. Hake is a natural storyteller, and her narrative unfolds like a novel, evenly paced with subtle clues about what's to come. Gripping and very well done.

    Prose: Hake's prose is candid, revealing, and assertive. Occasionally heavy-handed dialogue is a small distraction from otherwise fluid writing.

    Originality: Hake's memoir is unique in its storytelling approach. The blend of biographical content with a piercing perspective on trauma, family secrets, and psychological defense mechanisms, is fascinating, as is the unusual perspective on the psychotherapist/patient relationship.

    Character/Execution: The author maintains a sharp focus throughout her narrative, whether she is reliving events from her childhood or in her quest as a mental health professional to help her patient Woo-ri and herself. Hake's personal journey remains illuminating and eye-opening.

  • Semi Finalist


    by David Vass

    Rating: 9.75

    Plot/Idea: Vass has crafted a deliciously salacious chronicle of his life story, from his impoverished and challenging childhood (he knew he was gay and also struggled with a severe speech impediment) through to his time as a road manager, technical director, Hollywood lighting/sound designer, performer, and activist. Vass recounts his story with panache and honest self-reflection, making this work hard, if not impossible, to put down.

    Prose: Vass has a clear, concise, and buoyant prose style that is filled with both wry humor and surprising tenderness. The work has a steady, even pace, and the author shows a knack for keeping readers invested on every page.

    Originality: In addition to chronicling his encounters and friendships with actors, jazz musicians (Nina Simone, Anita O'Day), and other celebrities, Vass offers readers a fascinating, literal 'behind-the-scenes' glimpse into the nuts and bolts of music and theater productions. 

    Character/Execution: Vass writes candidly and openly about both his personal and professional endeavors, struggles with addiction, sexual relationships (even those that lasted a night), and his lifelong refusal to become confined to a label. Though the racy bits are engaging and often hilarious, most impactful are the touching anecdotes he shares about his close friends, seemingly larger-than-life individuals who, nevertheless, face their own demons and quiet tragedies.

  • Semi Finalist

    Plot/Idea: Readers will be swept into the ebbs and tides of Blue’s life, including her tumultuous relationship with her mother and her spot-on portrayal of society’s marginalization of certain communities. Blue eschews common stereotypes, bringing warmth and life to those citizens who are vilified and relegated to an inferior status.

    Prose: Blue writes with expertise and flair, and her polished style illustrates the stark differences between the homeless population of San Francisco and its posh neighborhoods oozing wealth. This is a nearly flawless memoir, written with grace and finesse. 

    Originality: Blue’s skillful development of underlying themes gives the book notable depth, and she relays those themes through edge-of-your seat storytelling and a stellar sense of timing.

    Character/Execution: Blue is unforgettable in her nimble treatment of a devastating lifestyle that is punctuated by beautiful moments, despite the harsh circumstances. Her personality flourishes, eclipsing the darkest moments in the memoir with a glimmer of hope that carries through to the end, and her purpose—to shed light on the resilience of disregarded populations—is unmistakable throughout. 

  • Semi Finalist

    Angels on the Clothesline, A Memoir

    by Ani Tuzman

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot/Idea: Angels on the Clothesline is a beautifully rendered memoir comprised of striking autobiographical vignettes. Tuzman, a daughter of holocaust survivors, reflects powerfully on generational trauma, bigotry, the refugee experience, and the challenges of navigating the world as a highly imaginative, sensitive child.

    Prose: Angels on the Clothesline is written in startling and lyrical prose. The measured pacing of the vignettes and their graceful construction, provides a smooth and engrossing reading experience.

    Originality: The originality of Tuzman's memoir lies in its execution. She eschews chronological storytelling in favor of distilled reflections on pivotal moments of trauma and transformation, while the use of second person contributes a level of quiet poetic power to the narrative. 

    Character/Execution: Angels on the Clothesline is a powerful, raw, and unflinching story of family scars and formative emotional experiences.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Plot/Idea: LaPera recounts the harrowing tale of her father's descent into mental illness and her family's quest to help him in a direct, no-holds-barred approach that invites readers into the situation. Together, author and reader embark on the highs and lows of Joseph's journey, tugging away at a wide range of emotions.

    Prose: LaPera is a talented writer, able to convincingly characterize her father's mental illness and provoke frustration, compassion, and feelings of impotence in readers, similar to the emotions experienced by the author herself.

    Originality: While mental illness and complicated familial relationships are frequently explored in memoir, LaPera offers a uniquely powerful. deeply personal chronicle that will resonate with readers.

    Character/Execution: Characterization is top-notch and intimate, particularly her well-rounded, resonating portrayal of LaPera's father.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Back From Suicide: Before and After the Essential Patrick

    by Marie Lisette Rimer

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot/idea: Rimer details the aftermath of her son’s death by suicide in this raw, powerful memoir. As she recalls Patrick’s struggles to find meaning and cope with his depression, his story unfolds in somber tones of heartbreak, depression, and love against the backdrop of a mother’s anguish and guilt. 

    Prose: The prose is concise and expressive, steeped in Rimer’s heartrending pain at the loss of her son. She recounts the events as they happened, allowing readers to view her grief journey organically; that style lends realism and intensity to the memoir.

    Originality: Rimer’s willingness to share her innermost emotions and experiences after her son’s death give the writing authenticity. Her quest to understand why Patrick died, alongside her own crushing regret at not knowing the depth of his pain, will immediately transfix readers. 

    Character/Execution: As Rimer shares her search for answers in the wake of her son’s death by suicide, she includes photographs and mementos from Patrick’s life that animate the memoir, making the family’s pain—and transformation—palpable throughout.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Plot/Idea: Lehman carefully structures this memoir with ample background information to build interest and ground the time and place of his father, Harold “Buddy” Lehman’s, story, following his childhood to his time as a medic during the Second World War to his death. The greater framework of life during mid-20th century in America and abroad becomes a fascinating spotlight throughout. 

    Prose: Lehman writes convincing, historic prose and supports his thoughts with tremendous attention to detail. The style allows Buddy’s story to unfold logically, effortlessly building the backdrop and transporting readers into the memoir’s timeframe.

    Originality: The brilliance of Lehman’s writing centers on his ability to bring the past to life, whether it’s recounting war events or Buddy’s relationship with his wife, Dora, all bolstered by significant historical details and personal context.

    Character/Execution: Buddy comes to life through Lehman’s writing, as does the time period of Lehman’s recollections, particularly the intricacies of Lehman’s mother being Jewish amid the events of World War II. In many ways, Lehman writes to discover his father’s personality—which was not clearly evident to him during his father’s life—as he looks back with a practiced eye on his family memories. 

  • Quarter Finalist

    Plot/Idea: Munk recollects his time serving as a voluntary physician with AMREF Flying Doctors in Africa. He takes on the gritty details of the job, shares the awakenings he experienced while living in a different culture, and reflects on his time there as a microcosm of larger societal patterns and health system challenges across the world.

    Prose: Munk evokes the chaos and flurry of Africa’s larger cities alongside the desolation of desert landscapes, all in expert prose that smoothly transports readers into another world. He renders accident scenes in raw, sometimes disturbing spaces, an echo of the tragedies he witnessed during his time abroad, but just as powerful are his reflections on hard-won healings.

    Originality: Munk’s ability to draw out the tender moments of his experiences and juxtapose them with the stark reality of his medical work in often-dire circumstances lends this memoir originality and magnetism.

    Character/Execution: Readers will soak up Munk’s attention to detail, even in the moments he delves into the specifics of equipment, medical procedures, and his environment. He examines his role—and the stereotypes that often accompanied it—against cultural backdrops, consistently paying heed to nuances that impacted his work and interactions with others. 

  • Quarter Finalist

    Loose on the Landscape

    by Joel Everett Harding

    Rating: 9.75

    Plot/Idea: Loose on the Landscape is an eye-opening and poetic exploration of the natural landscape that offers some fascinating insights into the human condition. Harding investigates the Amazon rainforest, crop circles, and ancient waterfalls, developing a personal relationship with nature and unravelling layers of hidden meaning.

    Prose: Harding takes the reader on an immersive journey into nature in a soothing and gently rewarding book that is full of brilliantly described landscapes and evocative detail. Loose on the Landscape is so rich in texture and tone it literally submerges the reader in the wild. It is also imbued with a depth of historical knowledge and a thirst for scientific investigation.

    Originality: Harding's writing is often imaginative, imbuing the text with a sense of majesty and mystery that sets it apart from other nature books. In addition, his exploration of various ecosystems balances nicely with his lucid and crafty penmanship.

    Character/Execution: The wildlife in Loose on the Landscape is the principal character, positively alive with an abundance of creepers and crawlers. Harding's personal experiences with nature adds a unique touch, as he thrives on his "eco-highs" and deep connection with plants, animals, and ecosystems.

    Blurb: An evocative journey into the undergrowth.

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Work

    by Zachary Sklar

    Rating: 9.75

    Plot/Idea: Sklar, in memoir fashion, recounts historical events with a clear eye for storytelling, drawing out underlying themes that have shaped the United States and, in some ways, the world at large. The concepts are passionate, intensely personal, and speak to larger societal issues throughout.

    Prose: With smooth, unfaltering prose, Sklar crafts surprising suspense and transports readers into his experiences, with firsthand views of the momentous circumstances and people he has been exposed to in his life. The writing is emotional and polished, and Sklar masterfully sets the tone throughout.

    Originality: Sklar’s expert prose and ability to plop readers right into the middle of noteworthy historical events make this memoir unforgettable. 

    Character/Execution: This is an accomplished memoir that speaks to both personal and collective themes. Sklar is a master at rendering memorable characters and situations, and the ease with which he shapes stories into living, breathing events is phenomenal. 

  • Quarter Finalist

    Gifts From a Feral Cat

    by Tian Wilson

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot/Idea: Wilson presents an engaging and surprisingly true story of the bond between humans and animals, centered on her self-described "miraculous" experiences with a feral cat. The narrative will engross readers and capture hearts and minds alike. 

    Prose: Gifts from a Feral Cat is refined and polished, reinforced by Wilson's expressive, metaphoric prose. The writing carries readers into a magical world of hushed splendor and bucolic dreams, where animals and humans come together to spark miracles.

    Originality: This is a rare, heartwarming story that readers will drink in; its premise is distinct, and the feline protagonist makes this work truly stand out.

    Character/Execution: Wilson's skill with characterization is all the more impressive given the narrative's central lead is a cat. She does a beautiful job of merging reality with the unexpected, rendering an unforgettable narrative arc. 

  • Quarter Finalist

    Chasing Atoms

    by jesse james kendall

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot/Idea: Chasing Atoms offers a multilayered and sharply rendered look at addiction and recovery, while also broadening the narrative focus to include philosophical questions about matter, meaning, and the origins of existence.

    Prose: The prose is elegant, moving, and provocative in a way that creates an intentional sense of chaos that mirrors the author's experiences. This stated, there are moments in which the controlled chaos of the narration spirals and the passages become abstract to the point of confusion. 

    Originality: Chasing Atoms is a stunningly original take on the addiction memoir genre, both in terms of the author's experiences and his eclectic writing style.

    Character/Execution: The author depicts this version of his younger self in a raw, unfiltered way that does not elide over his own sense of worthlessness and, inversely, creates an intense sense of empathy with the reader.

    Blurb: A raw, unfiltered book about depression, addiction, disability, and, ultimately, life, Jesse James Kendall's Chasing Atoms shows – rather than tells – readers about the life of a queer sex worker in the throes of a serious drug addiction. 

  • Quarter Finalist

    Renegade M.D.: A Doctor's Stories from the Streets

    by Susan Partovi, M.D.

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot/Idea: In this fascinating memoir, Partovi details her life as a street doctor who has devoted her medical career to treating society's forgotten citizens.

    Prose: Partovi takes us through her life, beginning with her childhood as the daughter of a neglectful father and a resentful mother, to the present time, where she recounts the challenges of treating homeless patients during a pandemic.

    Originality: The author uniquely brings her knowledge as a physician to the experience of treating those most in need. 

    Character/Execution: Partovi's devotion and humanity shine through every page (e.g. taking a patient to the hospital in her own car, spending her own money to buy underwear and clothing for patients, etc.). Like all good physicians, she learns from her mistakes and fights for her patients, even when it means challenging a system that seems, at times, corrupt and unyielding.

  • The Gift Shop at the DMZ

    by Maureen Hicks

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot/Idea: The author offers up an intimate and soul-searching exploration of her time as an "MRC," spent counseling soldiers while grappling with her own challenges. Her story is rich and introspective as she reconciles her preconceptions with eye-opening encounters and circumstances.

    Prose: Hicks's prose is candid, straightforward, and immediately engrossing. Her self-reflection and insights into human nature, belief systems, and mental health, are impactful. 

    Originality: Hicks's narrative as a therapist who counsels soldiers worldwide is decidedly unique and fascinating. She offers honest reflections on her own growth and pain, while approaching her patients and their struggles with sensitivity, nuance, and clarity.

    Character/Execution: The author intriguingly integrates her own Buddhist beliefs and worldview with a burgeoning understanding of the the military experience and the lasting impacts of trauma. Hicks's awakening is as compelling as the journeys faced by those she counsels. 

  • "Get Mahoney!; A Hollywood Insider's Memoir"

    by Jim Mahoney

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot/Idea: Get Mahoney! is a warts-and-all exposé of the inner machinations of Hollywood that details often intense and jaw dropping situations such as the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. Mahoney's memoir is honest and cleverly written, as he is thrust into the dazzling and often cutthroat atmosphere of stardom.

    Prose: Mahoney's text is written in vivid detail, brilliantly capturing the atmosphere and characteristics of the stars he worked with. As well as being gripping, confident and assured, Get Mahoney! is chock full of personal photographs.

    Originality: Get Mahoney! confidently provides an intriguing history of Hollywood from an insider's perspective. Mahoney's affable and candid narration, in addition to memories of working directly with the likes of Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra, are a treat for lovers of the silver screen.

    Character/Execution: Mahoney is a compelling storyteller and the vast cast of notorious players on the Hollywood scene never fails to entertain. Mahoney takes a sharp look at fame as well as the sleazier side of the Hollywood underworld.

    Blurb: A Hollywood insider's vibrant and fascinating memoir.

  • Plot/Idea: Love's Legacy is an enrapturing story, in which Fallon follows a thread from a personal connection to unravel a centuries-old mystery. The book is a touching romance, a gripping biography, and a thoughtful family memoir.

    Prose: The writing is exceptional, at once alluring and erudite, with a confident narrative voice.

    Originality: While others could present a biography of Chateaubriand, the crux of Fallon's narrative lies in his family ties to the famous writer. By teasing out the connection of Mary O’Neill through Fallon’s own family artifacts, a unique and memorable work emerges.

    Character/Execution: Love's Legacy is an extraordinary example of nonfiction form. Fallon effectively structures the narrative to form a compelling plot as the story is revealed, and the blending of biography and investigation will enthrall readers. The supplemental materials and artifacts add a rich element to the book.