After you’ve made the split – how do you begin to live again?

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Young People’s Literature finalist:

Swati Avasthi
Random House Children’s Books/Random House, Inc.
Category Sponsor: Sit Investment Associates


An excerpt of a posting from Swati Avasthi:

“When I was working on my (unfinished) master’s in criminal justice, I wanted to discern what makes one child who has witnessed abuse repeat the cycle and another one break it? While I don’t think I’ve fully answered that question, I do feel as though writing Split gave me some inklings as to what a child needs to break the cycle: a support system, a level of identification with the victim (not the abuser), and a sense of personal responsibility. In Split, Jace struggles for all three.”

Sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret. He tries to move on, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret. Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may have to go back.


Swati Avasthi has been writing fiction since she read Little House in the Big Woods at age five. Emily Bronte, Harper Lee, and many others furthered her addiction. She institutionalized her habit at the University of Chicago, where she received her B.A., and at the University of Minnesota, where she is currently studying for her M.F.A. She has received a Loft’s Mentor Series Award, a Marcella DeBourg Fellowship, University of Minnesota’s GRPP, the Thomas H. Shevlin Fellowship, and her fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Avasthi teaches creative writing and lives in Minneapolis.


“The first great fear faced by every teenage boy is that he will not measure up to his father. The second is that he will. In her debut novel, Swati Avasthi boldly tackles the second of these, and succeeds admirably. Split is powerful, heart-rending, and stunningly real.”  – Pete Hautman, author of Godless, National Book Award Winner

“A great novel…full of compelling characters and a knock-your-socks-off plot… A wonderful read, start to finish.” – Julie Schumacher, Minnesota Book Award Winner and author of Black Box

“Avasthi has a great ear for naturalistic dialogue… Jace’s own history of violence makes him a complex and tortured protagonist, and his process of letting go is heart wrenching. A nuanced and mournful work; Avasthi is a writer to watch.” – Booklist

“Wonderful tension; the story unfolds in tantalizing layers. Very engaging characters and good character development.” – MN Book Awards preliminary judge


Book trailer:

Animated excerpt of the audiobook version of the novel Split by Swati Avasthi, read by Joshua Swanson. The book was published by Knopf, and the audiobook was published by Listening Library, both in 2010. Excerpt used with permission. Made by johnyopp

A finalist for Young People’s Literature, Swati Avasthi appealed to guests and voters at the free Readers’ Choice Event, sponsored by the Minnesota Book Awards, the Pioneer Press and The Loft. Presenting her finalist book, “Split,” she talked about her time working at a shelter for abused women and children and finding her characters’ voice, and read a brief excerpt from the book.


Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Each year in the weeks leading up to the Minnesota Book Awards gala, all Minnesotans are invited to take part in voting for the Readers’ Choice Award. Vote online now through the end of March at Please, only one vote per person.

Have you read Split? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!



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