Long-time Salem resident and English Professor at Willamette University Michael Strelow has been named a finalist for the Ken Kesey Award of the Oregon Book Awards. “The Greening of Ben Brown” is Strelow’s first published novel.“I am delighted to have been a finalist for the Ken Kesey Award,” Strelow said. “It’s ironic that I was nominated for the Kesey Award because I have written an academic book on Kesey about his original papers and manuscripts.”

Strelow’s novel is one of five finalists out of 34 books entered in the novel category.Other ironies include the fact that a co-finalist for the same award, Kassten Alonso, nominated for his novel “Core,” was once a student of Strelow’s at Willamette University.

Both authors are published by Hawthorne Books of Portland. In Strelow’s novel, Ben Brown moves to the fictional town of East Leven, Oregon, where he is recovering from an electrocution that has turned him green. After befriending a local 18-year-old, they unearth a chemical spill cover-up.

According to the publisher’s website, “Strelow’s lyrical prose and his talent for storytelling come together in this poetic and important first work that looks at how a town and the natural environment are inextricably linked.”Currently on sabbatical from Willamette University where he has been a member of the English department since 1980, Strelow is Chair of the American Studies program.

He teaches Creative Writing and American Literature. He has lived in Oregon since 1973 and earned his doctorate at the University of Oregon.Strelow spent the past year finishing another novel, “The Moby Dick Murders” and he is currently working on a new historic book about the West and Portland. The 19th Annual Oregon Book Awards will be held November 11 at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland.

Sponsored by Literary Arts, the Oregon Book Awards is just one of the programs of this statewide nonprofit arts organization. By offering Poetry Downtown, the Oregon Literary Fellowships, visiting authors, and Writers in the Schools, Literary Arts seeks to promote the arts through a variety of venues and performances.

Tickets and information for the Oregon Book Awards are available by calling the Literary Arts office at (503) 227-2583 or at www.literary-arts.org.