The INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD recognizes hundreds of books and publishers, with its 2022 IPA Winners and Distinguished Favorites in categories that range from Adventure to Young Adult Fiction. Primarily created to help independent publishers gain more attention and to better circulate their content to a larger audience, their awards create yet another way to increase a book’s marketability and credibility.
Please help us in congratulating three of our very own Koehler Books authors who claimed a spot in the 2022 Independent Press Awards.
Cuban Son Rising by Charles Gomez – First Place in Hispanic/Latin
As a journalist he dug up the truth. But deep inside, he hid a life-shattering secret.
CBS News reporter Charles Gomez was fearless when facing down dictators. Earning an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow Award, the Latin correspondent and son of a Cuban immigrant seemed on top of the world. But the terror of exposing his sexuality and AIDS diagnosis led him down a dark path of drugs and depression that nearly destroyed him. Cuban Son Rising is an honest and raw memoir detailing Gomez’s lifelong battle to overcome stigma and self-loathing. Meticulously researched, Gomez’s story takes you from interviews with despots and the front lines of civil wars to the silent struggles he faced seeking his father’s acceptance. And after a lifetime of anxiety and regret, Gomez embarks on an emotional journey with his father to his homeland. Will Gomez finally reconcile with the man he’s looked up to for his whole life? Or will disclosing his sexuality and the shame and stigma of AIDS cause his father to reject him? Cuban Son Rising is a testament to survival and the triumph of hope over fear.
Charles Gomez is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, investigative reporter, and playwright. He was the first Cuban-American hired as a CBS News correspondent and has covered wars and revolutions for two networks over three decades. He was the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists’ national Mark of Excellence Award, and has interviewed, among others, Fidel Castro, Nicaraguan president Anastasio Somoza, Salvadoran president Jose Napolean Duarte, Jamaican president Edward Seaga, and Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of the Philippines. He has worked as an NBC News West Coast correspondent and also as a reporter for WPLG-TV in Miami, WBBM-TV in Chicago, WWOR and WNBC in New York City. Gomez’s plays Bang Bang Blues and Adios, Tropicana were named as the US entries in Joseph Papp’s Public Theater Festival Latino. His play Esperanza was a semi-finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference.
Through the Waters and the Wild by Greg Fields – First Place in Literary Fiction
“I was hungry, seeing myself starving for want of something I could not define. I sought it constantly, sought it at every turn, searched every face I met for hints of it, looked everywhere I could conceive. I lost time trying to slake this unquenchable thirst, trying to satisfy an endlessly burning hunger. But in the end I knew precisely what I had been after all along. It is the folly of the young, part of their particular curse, to be so unaware, to be blind as well as hungry. To be in exile from themselves and not know they are away.”
Haunted by lost loves and limping through a lifeless career, Conor Finnegan’s discontent mirrors the restlessness of his grandfather Liam, caught as a young man in the crossfire of the Irish Civil War. Drawing from Liam’s wisdom and courage, Conor seeks to reinvent his character and reclaim passions made numb by neglect and loss.
Through the Waters and the Wild addresses the timeless questions, “Where shall I go now? What shall I do?”
Greg Fields has established a reputation as an articulate voice of the human condition. He has won recognition for his written work in presenting the plight of marginalized young people through his tenure at the Global Fund for Children, and is the co-author with Maya Ajmera of Invisible Children: Reimagining International Development from the Grassroots, published by Palgrave Macmillan in July 2016. He has had articles published in the Harvard International Review, as well as numerous periodicals, including The Washington Post and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He has presented at and participated in numerous symposia, including Stanford University’s Global Philanthropy Forum, The Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Award seminar, the Synergos Institute’s University for a Night at the United Nations, the International AIDS Conference and the European Foundation Centre’s general assembly. He has also been an invited participant at the Salzburg Seminar in Austria. Since 2009 he has been President and Senior Advisor of Philanthropy Directions International, a philanthropic consulting firm in Northern Virginia. His fluid yet precise style has caught the eye of other writers, including Pat Conroy, who offered a jacket quote for Arc of the Comet shortly before his passing in March 2016, and Fergal Keane, award-winning journalist for the BBC.
Truth Is in The House by Michael J. Coffino – Distinguished Favorite in Race Relations
As a young boy in the late 1950s, Jimmy O’Farrell emigrates with his family from Ireland to Manhattan to bask in the dawn of a new life. Thousands of miles away, the family of Jaylen Jackson seeks to build a life amid Jim Crow culture in Mississippi. As teenagers, both boys struggle to come of age in a racially divisive world, suffering horrific tragedies that shape their characters and life missions. Jimmy seeks to define what it means to stand for someone when the chips are down, while Jaylen embarks on a journey to gain respect beyond the color of his skin.
Fleeing the past, both families land in neighboring Bronx communities in the 1960s, where Jimmy and Jaylen’s lives first intersect, on the basketball courts and then in the Vietnam jungle. Repeatedly tested as men of different races, their friendship faces its toughest challenge outside a Bronx bar-with fatal consequences. Truth Is in the House is an epic and provocative tale that plumbs historical and modern racial themes and explores redemption, forgiveness, and the power of connecting through the human spirit.
Michael Coffino has authored or co-authored nine books (memoir and sports) since 2015, after he downshifted from almost four decades as a trial attorney and twenty-five years as a high school basketball coach, two dynamic careers he pursued in parallel. He also was a legal writing coach while practicing law. He still dabbles in the law and has a private investigation business as well, but mostly devotes himself to writing. Michael grew up in the Bronx, in its Mott Haven and Highbridge neighborhoods. He served in the US Army from 1968 to 1970 and earned a BS in education from the City University of New York and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Michael plays guitar, holds a black belt in karate, is a workout junkie, plays pickle ball, and hikes regularly in the hills and mountains of California and Colorado. Truth Is in the House is his debut work of fiction.
For access to the full list of 2022 winners, click here.