In 2002 Anne Ursu’s first novel, Spilling Clarence, was published. The story focuses on Clarence, Minnesota, a small, fictional college town that is also home to a pharmaceutical factory. One afternoon an explosion at the plant sends a mysterious vapor throughout the sleepy village, and slowly the effects of the fumes are revealed as townspeople begin to recall everything that has ever happened to them throughout their lives. People react in different ways, but many are almost suffocated by the powerful memories of past sins that they have committed or wrongs that have been done to them by the people they love. Touching and bittersweet, Spilling Clarence won Ursu the 2003 Minnesota Book Award for Best New Voice.