State of the Book Literary Symposium Not to be Missed!

The State of the Book: A Celebration of Michigan Writers and Writing*

On Saturday, October 6thFiction Writers Review and the University of Michigan’s MFA Program in Creative Writing will co-host a day-long literary symposium in Rackham Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus to celebrate Michigan’s great writers and the state’s enduring literary traditions by declaring Michigan “The State of the Book.”

The State of the Book symposium will offer a range of free programming throughout the day that is focused on Michigan writers and the craft of writing—please click the “Schedule” tab above for more details. The day’s events will conclude with an on-stage keynote conversation featuring Charles Baxter, an award-winning fiction writer and novelist, and Philip Levine, a former Poet Laureate of the United States.

This day-long series of public events will showcase the state’s leading literary stars, in partnership with several of the state’s leading non-profit literary organizations: 826michiganDzanc BooksInsideOut Literary Arts ProjectThe National Writers Series, and The Neutral Zone. The events will also feature the work of the next generation of writers that these organizations serve and support.

* Information taken directly from stateofthebook.com

For all symposium information including schedule of events, directions, and FAQ’s, link over to State of the Book.

– Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

– Post by Megan Shaffer

Michigan’s Literary Stars to Shine on Saturday Night

Michigan’s finest authors will be stepping out Saturday night for a few hors d’oeuvres, some fine Michigan wines, and a swell of well-deserved recognition for their award-winning contributions to the 2012 Michigan Notable Books.

The Library of Michigan’s annual Night for Notables is an event designed to pay tribute to those authors who have written works that offer high-quality titles with wide public appeal and are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience.

This year’s featured speakers are 2010 and 2011 National Book Award Winners for Fiction, Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones) and Jaimy Gordon (Lord of Misrule). The evening’s moderator is both a National Book Award Finalist and one of my favorite authors, Bonnie Jo Campbell (American Salvage and Once Upon a River).

Authors to be honored at the Night for Notables this year include such names as Michael Moore, Jack Dempsey, Steve Hamilton, and Jim Harrison among others. Many of this year’s contributors will be on hand to sign and discuss copies of their award-winning books.

What are the Michigan Notable Books? Each year, the Library of Michigan selects up to 20 published titles over the last year that celebrate Michigan people, places, or events. Stretching back to 1991, the Michigan Notable Books began as the “Read Michigan” program but switched its name in 2004.

Anywhere between 250 to 400 Michigan-related titles are reviewed each year. Book selections are highly competitive and are reviewed by a board of 10-16 members who come from various literary backgrounds. The program is supported by sponsors and grants handled by the Library of Michigan Foundation.

For NLR coverage of a few of this year’s titles, you can link here. For a detailed piece on the upcoming event, link to this wonderful City Pulse piece by fellow friend and Mittenlit blogger Bill Castanier.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Women’s National Book Association Hosts Hot Authors Bonnie Jo Campbell and Samuel Park at BPL

Cover ImageFans of fiction opted out of the beautiful sunshine this past weekend to head indoors instead. Why? Authors Bonnie Jo Campbell and Samuel Park were in town for a reading and signing of their latest books as part of the Women’s National Book Association 2011 National Reading Group Month.

Baldwin Public Library played host to both authors Sunday in celebration of the WNBA Detroit Chapter’s October programming. Bonnie Jo Campbell and Samuel Park, who recently released Once Upon A River and This Burns My Heart respectively, read to an appreciative audience followed by a discussion and Q&A session regarding their latest novels.

Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell has received numerous awards and was a finalist  for the 2009 National Book Award for fiction. Once Upon A River, Campbell’s fourth published book, is an absolute stunner and tells the troubled story of sixteen-year-old Margo Crane.

Cover Image“I wanted to write the most American book I could,” said Campbell of Once Upon A River. Campbell’s main character Margo invokes the spirit of Annie Oakley, and hones her skills as a sharpshooter to navigate the ebb and flow of her hardscrabble life. Like Margo, Campbell grew up along the rivers of Michigan and used her intimate knowledge of river life to flesh out her story.

Samuel Park, who is an assistant professor of English at Columbia College, flew in from Chicago to discuss his debut novel This Burns My Heart. Based on stories from his mother’s life, This Burns My Heart is set in South Korea in the 1960’s and centers on the young woman Soo-Ja Choi who is bound by both marriage and culture.

“This book is about permanence of choice,” said Park of his post-Korean War novel. After Park’s own mother told him she turned down a promising suitor the very day before her wedding, Park became intrigued with the idea of choice and how many possibilities life can hold based on the decisions we make.

Both Campbell and Park are easy at the mic and were incredibly engaging. Plenty of laughs were shared as the authors took ample time to field personal questions and speak sincerely about the challenges of publishing, the pressures of writing and the painstaking wait for those early reviews.

Naturally, copies of Once Upon A River and This Burns My Heart were available for sale from Colleen Kammer of Book Beat Bookstore. It is certainly of note that Kammer is the recipient of the 2011 Detroit WNBA Bookwoman Award.

This Baldwin Public Library event was taped and will be made available on the BPL site in the near future.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Hot Authors on Tap at Baldwin Public Library

Cover ImageOne of the biggest bummers of Borders closing its doors is that it provided a great spot for hosting big-title events where readers could get up close and personal with the authors they love to read. However, we all know that the closing of one door often leads to the opening – or awareness – of another, and it’s none other than our very own public libraries that continuously provide top-notch programming and events.

As always, Baldwin Public Library has a number of fantastic author events planned, and this October is shaping up to be a stellar month. Author Jaimy Gordon will be at the BPL on October 2, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. for a book talk and signing of her novel Lord of Misrule. Dr. Gordon, who is a professor Western Michigan University, won the 2010 National Book Award for Lord of Misrule, which offers a gritty glimpse into the seedier side of small-time horse racing.

Cover ImageAlso on tap is author Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of the recently released novel Once Upon A River. Campbell’s American Salvage was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction and a 2010 Michigan Notable Book as well. Campbell will appear at Baldwin Public Library on Sunday, October 9 at 2 p.m. Cover Image

Appearing with Campbell is Chicago author Samuel Park. Park’s debut novel, This Burns My Heart, is both romance and literary drama set in 1960’s South Korea and has been called “quietly stunning,” “smart,” and a “visceral romance.”

It is of note that both Gordon and Campbell live in Michigan and have brought much recognition to the incredible literary talent that resides right here in our state. In addition, Wayne State University Press received some well-deserved applause as publisher of American Salvage.

Naturally, Book Beat Bookstore will be stationed at all events with available copies on hand for purchase and signing. A Night Light Revue reader recap: Gordon’s book is a stretch for traditional readers, but I thought it was excellent and strongly recommend the title. I have yet to read American Salvage, but Once Upon A River now sits on my list of all time favorites. I haven’t read Park’s book yet, but you can link here for a full review.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries and universities. It matters.

– Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

-Christopher Walton’s article:  Critics are raving over Kalamazoo author Bonnie Jo Campbell’s new novel

Michigan Voices Represent at 2011 Kerrytown Bookfest

It’s that wonderful time of year again! Since Borders has more or less closed their doors for the last time, why not embrace and relish our own literary greatness at this year’s Kerrytown Bookfest?

The Bookfest will take place in Ann Arbor again this year on Sunday, September 11th, with events beginning at 11:00am. While the date itself has grave undertones, the Kerrytown Bookfest is a time to celebrate indie bookstores, amazing authors and the remarkable talent and perseverance of the written word in Michigan.

This year proves to be something special due to the fact that much of the country has decided to sit up and take notice of the flourishing literary voices pouring forth from Michigan. Authors and poets such as Jaimy Gordon, Laura Kasischke, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Michael Federspeil, William Whitbeck, M.L. Liebler, Jeff Vande Zande, Jack Dempsey and Doug Stanton are just a sampling of those who will represent at Kerrytown this year.

Regardless of your literary appetite, the Bookfest has offerings for people of all genres.  The full events schedule offers children’s programs, book making workshops, illustrator samplings, indie bookstore displays, panel discussions and of course, books.

Michigan acts as host and home to a rapidly growing, ever-thriving literary community. The Kerrytown Bookfest is a great way to hear from Notable authors and those whose work we admire while making connections with readers and writers who share a passion for fine literature.

Kerrytown Bookfest takes place on Sunday, September 11, 2011. Travel directions, event times, speakers and more can all be found on the Kerrytown Bookfest homepage.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Bonnie Jo Campbell’s ‘Once Upon A River’ Sets Sail

Things are looking way up for Kalamzaoo author Bonnie Jo Campbell. This week W.W. Norton & Company released Campbell’s much anticipated new novel, Once Upon A River, to the reading world at large.

Due to early buzz and glowing reviews, Once Upon A River  has managed to position itself onto a number of notable summer reading lists (prior to its release, mind you), and  serve to establish Campbell as one of the nation’s new literary darlings.

I haven’t yet cracked the spine of Campbell’s latest, but with recent favorable features in  publications such as Poets & Writers, the Detroit Free Press, and the Wall Street Journal, Once Upon A River promises good things to come.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Campbell at a National Writers Series event where she eloquently spoke of the integral role that Michigan plays in her writing process. The winsome author has done much for Michigan’s artistic reputation and has no doubt been a key player in prominently situating the state on the larger literary landscape.

No fancy release parties are planned for this author though. Campbell will celebrate the launching of her book with friends and family. Her tribe. “One thing I’ve learned about the writing business is that you can be up and you can be down, but you’re still the same person,” (via Free Press).

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

– Post by Megan Shaffer

‘Night for Notables’ to Honor Michigan’s Finest


Michigan’s finest authors will be stepping out Saturday night for a few hors d’oeuvres, some fine Michigan wines, and a swell of well-deserved recognition for their award-winning contributions to the 2011 Michigan Notable Books.

The Library of Michigan’s annual Night for Notables is an event designed to pay tribute to those authors who have written works that offer “high-quality titles with wide public appeal” and “are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience.”*

The event’s featured speaker this year is none other than Traverse City’s National Writers Series founder Doug Stanton, a New York Times best-selling author. Saturday’s Night for Notables will honor this year’s title contributors and also provide a forum for the authors to sign and discuss copies of their award-winning books.

What are the Michigan Notable Books? Each year, the Library of Michigan selects up to 20 published titles over the last year that celebrate Michigan people, places, or events. Stretching back to 1991, the Michigan Notable Books began as the “Read Michigan” program but switched its name in 2004.

Anywhere between 250 to 400 Michigan-related titles are reviewed each year. Book selections are highly competitive and are reviewed by a board of 10-16 members who come from various literary backgrounds. The program is supported by sponsors and grants handled by the Library of Michigan Foundation.

Night Light Revue has covered several of this year’s Notable authors and their works. If you are interested in a few of NLR’s book reviews or author event coverage, please feel free to click on the links below. If you are interested in reading any of this year’s titles, our undervalued yet oh-so-amazing local libraries carry copies of the Michigan Notable Books both past and present and offer author events throughout the year. For free. For everyone.

Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters!

Heather Sellers – “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know”

Writers Live! Features author Heather Sellers

Heather Sellers Delights at Writers Live! Event

Bryan Gruley – “The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery”

‘Starvation Lake’ is a Trip Worth Taking

Laura Kasischke – “Eden Springs”

Kasischke Shines in Eden Springs

Thomas Lynch – “Apparition & Late Fictions”

Life With Death – One Good Thing Leads to Another

-Post by Megan Shaffer

*As stated on the Michigan Notable Books site.

National Writers Series of Traverse City Definitely a Trip Worth Taking

COH Banner

As it turned out, driving north into high winds and rains for four hours was time well spent after all. The National Writers Series of Traverse City banged out another successful evening of laughs and literary insights at the City Opera House Thursday night as they played host to four authors from the Wayne State University Press “Made in Michigan” series.

If you think the art of the written word in Michigan is rusting away due to our bleak economy, you’d better think again. An opera house full of lit lovers both young and old turned out to hear authors Michael Delp, Jack Driscoll, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Michael Zadoorian open up about the writing process and their work.

NWS founder and Traverse City native Doug Stanton honored local student scholarship recipients before turning the mic over to author Michael Delp, who then presided over the evening’s laid-back program. Lending an air of humor and levity that would woo anyone to the midwest, Delp offered up a few self-disparaging narratives to lighten the mood before posing the heavier, more introspective questions to the panel.

The casually clad Campbell, Zadoorian, and Driscoll easily took the stage and answered Delp’s questions with earnest, lyrical answers befitting both their roots and their craft. It was agreed by all that Michigan as “place” plays an integral role in their individual writing process, and regardless of “where” the authors physically do their writing, it’s the people and places of their upbringing that ink the soul, pen, and page. As Driscoll beautifully noted, “We are the aggregate of everything that surrounds us.”

The aggregate on this particular night was a layered assemblage of Michigan voice and perspective from urban, rural, and northern exposures. From Detroit’s edgy Zadoorian to Comstock’s cadenced Campbell, to northern Michigan’s ever-measured Driscoll, each writer brought forth a unique passion for the writing process as well as a nod to the state that breathes such life and rugged beauty into their work.

“Art has no function if it doesn’t transfer,” stated Driscoll, and I firmly agree. Though he was speaking about individual interpretation, many deft hands play a part in the actual artistic transfer that lands such fine literary events into our laps.

Delp applauded Wayne State University Press for giving “a voice to authors in Michigan” and honored their integrity in risk-taking and honest publishing. And of the National Writers Series? Impressive is a word that simply falls far too short in describing the passion and sincere intention of Doug Stanton and the NWS to keep the written word alive and well in Michigan.

For literary lovers and aspiring writers, the series is not to be missed. For a full schedule of events, click here.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

On the Side

“Shnovel” is apparently a new term in the writing game. The merging of “short story” and “novel” may or may not be the creation of poet/novelist Jack Driscoll.

Related Links

-NLR’s Freedom of the University Press

-NLR’s Power of the University Press


‘Made in Michigan’ Authors Head to Traverse City for National Writers Series

COH BannerThe merging of two great series and many creative minds will take place in Traverse City on Thursday.  Wayne State University Press will be partnering with the National Writers Series of Traverse City to showcase a few of Michigan’s finest authors from the WSU Press Made in Michigan Writers Series.

“The Made in Michigan Writers Series is devoted to highlighting the works of distinguished statewide writers to showcase Michigan’s diverse voices,” shares the Wayne State University Press site. “The series publishes poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction, and essays by Michigan writers with the aim of encouraging the recognition of the state’s artistic and cultural heritage throughout Michigan, the Midwest, and the nation.”

On Thursday, April 28th, authors from the award-winning Made in Michigan series Bonnie Jo CampbellMichael ZadoorianMichael Delp, and Jack Driscoll will be taking the stage at the City Opera House “for an exciting conversation on writing, creative collaboration, and the life of the artist.”*

In addition to the evening at the Opera House, a variety of other great events such as bookstore readings, school workshops, and writing classes for adults are scheduled as part of the National Writers Series which runs from April 26-28th.

What exactly is the National Writers Series of Traverse City? “It is a year-round book festival in Traverse City that brings some of the brightest celebrities of the literary world to Northern Michigan,” informs the WSU site. The series “is dedicated to bringing to life great conversations with today’s best-selling authors, journalists, and premier storytellers in a lively setting.”

If you’re looking for a field trip, all of this talent under one roof on one night is sure to make for an amazing evening. NLR will be covering the Made in Michigan Opera House event so be sure to check back in.

– As always, support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

– You can click here for a full list of NWS events taking place next week.

*from WSU newsletter

Rosman Brings ‘If You Knew Suzy’ to Birmingham Borders

Wall Street Journal culture reporter Katherine Rosman longed to find answers to the questions that we all grapple with after losing someone we love. So she did what she does best: she opened her notebook and started asking questions.”*

If You Knew Suzy is author Rosman’s tender memoir dealing with life after the loss of her mother to cancer. Katherine Rosman grew up in Birmingham and West Bloomfield where she graduated from Bloomfield Hills Andover in 1990. Rosman then attended the University of Michigan where she followed an interdisciplinary curriculum that focused on race relations and immigration policy.

“My instinct was that as long as I was reading and writing a lot…I would be learning how to become an effective writer,” Rosman shared in an email. “Studying race and immigration in the U.S. is akin to studying American history. I loved it.”

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1994, Rosman worked several different post-grad jobs, ultimately landing at the Wall Street Journal in 1994. Adding a reality check to the vast credentials on her site she admits, “Katie is married and has two kids. She’s exhausted.”

Ms.Rosman will add to her exhaustion by offering a reading and discussion of If You Knew Suzy at Borders in Birmingham this Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM.

For more on the author and her memoir, try Christopher Walton’s contribution in today’s Detroit Free Press:  A Life That Sparkled.

*quote from Katherine Rosman’s site

Also of Note

Also on Sunday, April 25, 2010, famed Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell will be reading from her book American Salvage (National Book Award Finalist) as part of the Downtown Writers Series at the Scarab Club at 2:00 PM.

-As always, check all dates, times, and locations before heading out the door.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer