2012 Michigan Notable Books Announced

The much anticipated 2012 Michigan Notable Books were announced today. The Library of Michigan annually decides on 20 of the most notable books that “are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience” and feature “high-quality titles with wide public appeal.” (via)

This year’s list, which features fiction, nonfiction, picture and children’s books alike, were either penned by a Michigan resident or written about a subject related to the Great Lakes region.

“The list has been a year-end tradition since 1991 with selections made by a panel under the umbrella of the official state library, part of the Michigan Department of Education,” states the Detroit Free Press. “Authors don’t receive prize money for the award, but the prestige of appearing on what has become a high-profile list does invite greater visibility and a potential bump in sales.”

This year Night Light Revue weighs in on only three of the 20 titles, and all fiction at that. I must say that Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon a River is not only my favorite book of 2011, but now falls into my “best book of all time” list. Also, Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior is highly entertaining while Scott Sparling’s Wire to Wire is a dark and dirty little ride.

Sales aside, Michigan now holds some of the country’s hottest authors in its mittened hand. Regardless, our authors modestly accept their awards and graciously make themselves available to Michigan readers through library tours, appearances and literary engagements. In addition, our university presses get a big boost and a much deserved nod for their remarkable, prolific publications.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Tis’ the Season for Great Gift Titles

Tis’ the season to pick titles for the lit lovers in your life. Below is this week’s shopping list for those of you looking for great reads to put under the tree. For a little gift-giving on the side, each title below is linked to one of Michigan’s fabulous indie bookstores where you can order and support our literary arts right from your merry little home.

– Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell  (award-winning Michigan author)

– The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (hot fiction – more on McLain)

– The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer-winning Michigan author)

– Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton (more on chef Hamilton)

– Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (award-winning Michigan author)

– The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011 Booker Prize for Fiction)

– Annabel by Kathleen Winter (shortlisted for this year’s Orange Prize)

– Sister by Rosamund Lupton (debut mystery)

– The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (debut bestseller)

*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

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