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Sins of Our Fathers named finalist for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Los Angeles (March 4, 2015)—The Los Angeles Times today announced Sins of Our Fathers, by Minnesota-based novelist, screenwriter, and science advocate Shawn Lawrence Otto, is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category.

There are no nominations for this national prize—they are chosen exclusively by Los Angeles Times staff and book prize judges. Previous finalists include Tana French, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, Kate Atkinson, and Stephen King.

Several previous finalists have gone on to become movies, including Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, A Visit From the Goon Squad, The Secret Scripture, Child 44, Winter’s Bone, and Atonement.

Sins of Our Fathers follows small-town banker J.W., who has been caught embezzling funds to support his gambling addiction. J.W. is on the verge of losing everything when his boss offers him a scoundrel’s path to redemption: sabotage a competing, Native banker named Johnny Eagle. A single father, Eagle recently returned to the reservation, leaving a high-powered job in the hope of simultaneously empowering his community and saving his troubled son. When J.W. moves onto the reservation and begins to work his way close to Eagle, hundreds of years of racial animosities rise to the surface, inexorably driving the characters toward a Shakespearian and shattering conclusion.

A stunning fiction debut from Shawn Lawrence Otto, Sins of Our Fathers is an elegant, must-read tale of the role of race and money in the American Dream.

“A wonderfully vivid debut” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Masterfully written. It flows so beautifully that you don't realize you're in the middle of reading's version of rocky river rapids until it's too late to escape." —PopcornReads

"With precise writing and a storyteller’s eye for detail, it’s hard to believe this is Shawn Lawrence Otto’s debut novel. Sins of Our Fathers is a fine depiction of how all the best intentions can—and do—go very, very wrong. A magnificent debut." —Urban Waite, author of The Terror of Living

“In Sins of Our Fathers, screenwriter-turned-novelist Shawn Lawrence Otto has pushed his perfectly crafted characters to their limits. The result is a literary tour de force and a psychological thriller that hooked me from the first page and carried me through to its stunning conclusion.” —Joel Surnow, creator of 24

“A master key to the effectiveness of Otto’s novel is how cannily he shows the ages-old exploitative methods at work today.” —Minneapolis StarTribune

“It is almost as if instead of writing a novel, Shawn Lawrence Otto has managed to capture a true story that is often repeated in different forms. I love this novel.” —Sidra Starkovich, Band Member and Grants Manager, Bois Forte Tribal Reservation

Shawn Lawrence Otto is the award-winning writer and co-producer of the Oscar-nominated film House of Sand and Fog. He has written for film and television’s top studios and is the co-founder and producer of the US presidential science debates at He is a frequent guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, and his work has appeared in Scientific American, Salon, and The Huffington Post. His first work of nonfiction, Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, won the Minnesota Book Award. He lives in Marine on Saint Croix, Minnesota. He can be found at

The 35th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize will honor the best books of 2014 on April 18th at The Festival of Books at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. For more information please visit:

Milkweed Editions is an independent nonprofit publishing company based in Minneapolis, committed to identifying, nurturing and publishing transformative literature, and building an engaged community around it.

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