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Steel cover .jpg

W I N N E R  B E S T  F I C T I O N

N E M B A  A W A R D S  2 0 2 2

This is the story of a gun that hung on the wall

and the son who fell in love

and the miner who left to be a cop in Chicago.


It is also the story of the son’s younger brother,

who outlived everyone in his family to tell what happened,

how they adored the first-born Tony, how Tony found the prettiest girlfriend,

strived to be a man, then fell away into a state of mind they did not foresee,

and what it is like to remember them all—the house full and poor,

their mother praying in Croatian,

their immigrant father leading rough track-gang workers

in the widest open iron ore pit in the world.


Suspenseful and poetic, Steel takes you from the gang shootings of Chicago

and the beautiful anguish of first love, forward to the present day

and an aging man’s reflections on family and want—and truth.


Available at libraries, select bookstores, Barnes & Noble online  and Amazon




“Kathleen Novak's Steel

is a quietly-told,


epic tragedy,

a story with all

the emotional force

of an iron fist in a


velvet glove.”

IndieReader, Five-Star Review

October 28, 2021

“Novak’s Steel holds

enormous weight . . .

a story that rolls

like an ore train

picking up steam.”    

Aaron Brown, Mesabi Tribune

February 13, 2022

“A Stunner—

Novak portrays how easy it is

to become caught in a web

of unintended consequences

and how disastrous it can be

when the delicate bond

of young love shatters.”

Prairie Books Review

 October 9, 2021

Steel is an intimate

coming-of-age story set in

a gritty northern Minnesota

mining town in the 1920s . . .

a moving novel about family

loyalties, the beauty of young

love, and the tragedy of

shattered dreams.”

Foreword Magazine

(historical fiction feature reviews)

January/February 2022

"Steel is a profound and unexpected read, poetic

and surprising, a story that

will stay with you long

after the last page."

Carolyn Colburn

Morlocks in the Basement

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