Tag Archives: University of Michigan

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

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American Authors Represent on this Year’s Orange Prize Longlist

The longlist for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction was released last Wednesday. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Orange Prize, it’s the UK’s prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. The award can be presented to a female author of any nationality for the best eligible full-length novel written in the English language. The novel entries must be published for the first time in the United Kingdom the year prior to the awarded Prize (rules for entry).

This year’s longlist nominees include American contenders Jennifer Egan, Samantha Hunt, Nicole Krauss, Wendy Law-Yone, Tea Obreht (Serbian/American), Karen Russell, and Julie Orringer (a former creative writing teacher at the University of Michigan).

Where does NLR sit with this year’s nominees? Well, the Revue has a lot of reading left to do. While I enjoyed Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, I found it difficult to push as a solid cover-to-cover recommendation. But before the ax falls, I intend to read Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife (which is generating big nods), Egan’s NBCC award winner A Visit From the Goon Squad, and jumping the Canadian border to read author Kathleen Winter’s literary gender-bender Annabel.

This year’s Orange Prize seems to be more significant than ever in light of the VIDA Count of 2010. With the noted discrepancies between male and female writers, many have opined on the merits of women in literature, the purported Literary Glass Ceiling, and the very Orange Prize itself.

Now in its sixteenth year, the Orange Prize celebrates “excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world.”* Outside of increased book sales and prestige, the winner of the award receives thirty-thousand-pounds (nearly forty-four thousand dollars) and a limited edition bronze sculpture known as a ‘Bessie’ created and donated by artist Grizel Niven. The prize is sponsored by Orange which is a UK mobile network operator and Internet provider.

The Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist will be announced on April 12, 2011 and the actual winner will be announced sometime in June. In past years American authors such as Zadie Smith, Marilynne Robinson, and Ann Patchett have taken home the Orange Prize. Author Barbara Kingsolver won the Prize last year for her novel, The Lacuna.

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

*Information taken from the official Orang Prize for Fiction site

Related Information

-You can link here for more information on the history, rules, guidelines, and judges of the Orange Prize for Fiction.

-Try this full list of winners and nominees at Goodreads

-Try The National’s article, Books Firing on All Cylinders: Orange Longlist Shows Power of Women Writers

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge

Paula McLain Brings ‘The Paris Wife’ to Ann Arbor

DetailsIf you haven’t yet heard of Paula McLain’s new novel The Paris Wife then it’s time to tune in. The Paris Wife “brilliantly captures the voice and heart of Hadley Hemingway as she struggles with her roles as a woman – wife, lover, muse, friend, and mother – and tries to find her place in the intoxicating and tumultuous world of Paris in the twenties.”*

And I can vouch. McLain does indeed capture the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s wife, or most certainly a voice of the times. McLain’s language and tone easily transport to a bohemian Paris swirling with artists and poets both over and on the cusp of discovery.

Paula McLain received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has published two collections of poetry, a memoir and an earlier novel titled  A Ticket to Ride. The Paris Wife was released just last week.

The Paris Wife site is a beauty, so even if you don’t care to read the book you should at least check out the photos of both the Hemingways and the landmarks of their life together. Also, I hate to veer away from solid sources but I did get snagged by Paula McLain’s bio spot on amazon and her personal history is worth the link over. Very intriguing.

Paula McLain has a few upcoming Michigan appearances on her calendar and she will be appearing at Borders in Ann Arbor for a reading and signing of The Paris Wife on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm. In addition, she will be at McLean & Eakin booksellers in Petosky for a talk and signing on Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm as part of their popular “Cabin Fever Series”.

Also, if you are interested in the National Writers Series of Traverse City, Paula McLain will be appearing for a talk and signing at the City Opera House on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm. More on this later…

Check back in with Night Light Revue for information on McLain’s other  Michigan events and as always, call ahead to confirm dates and times.

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

*Information taken from the official site of “The Paris Wife”

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Paula McLain, The Paris Wife

Meltzer Brings it on at Borders Appearance

Cover ImageStanding room only, fans waving signs, book tour t-shirts? If you woke up smiling today then you probably made it to Brad Meltzer’s Borders appearance last night in Birmingham. Who knew that the author and star of The History Channel’s Decoded could be… well, so damn funny?

Brad Meltzer was in Birmingham to promote his recently released thriller The Inner Circle and plug his television show, but finessed the push by quickly turning the literary crowd to laughter. Clearly at ease with the mike, Meltzer only gained momentum as he discussed the evolution of his latest book and the cool factor of his show Decoded.

Brad Meltzer is all about history, and the seed of The Inner Circle was planted when the author received a call from Homeland Security. He was asked to be part of a project consisting of “out of the box thinkers” who brainstorm ways that terrorists might strike our cities. Not only did Meltzer find the reality of potential attacks horrifying, but the sessions also led him to the topic of spy rings.

The fact of the matter is that George Washington had a spy ring. When the author inquired how long that ring lasted, the response was “who says it still doesn’t exist?” Wild premise for a book, no? So Meltzer ran with it, and the passing of presidential secrets is the spine that solidly holds his book, The Inner Circle, together.

As for pushing Decoded, Meltzer had a hoot. Admittedly, with the DVD screen set up it appeared as if Borders had us queued up for a forced episode watch. Not so. The “episode” was a walk through of self-poking fun by Meltzer as he emceed his staged poses from the show. Meltzer’s Thinker variations were hilarious, and as the opening scenes from Decoded played on, Meltzer assured us that he was highly trained in such posturing and warned of the dangers of attempting such staid postures at home.

Though Meltzer is clearly connected at the top, he is clearly not all about Brad. When he was asked about Minnie, one of his Inner Circle characters who is afflicted with a certain syndrome (no plot spoilers here), the author shared his desire to draw attention to the obscure condition in his book. In that way, it creates an awareness for readers that normally would never have exposure or knowledge of the syndrome’s existence.

As for the book tour t-shirts? “Why not?” asks Meltzer. Musicians go on tour and sell t-shirts all the time. Holding up the black tee with the hard-core print and the cities detailed on the back, Meltzer said, “Look, where else can you find Birmingham, Michigan and Boca Raton on the same tour?” But it’s not all just for fun, all proceeds go to City Year, a program near and dear to Meltzer’s heart.

In the end, it all goes back to history for Meltzer. He informed the appreciative crowd that “Michigan is where my history exists.” As a University of Michigan grad he tries to incorporate the Ann Arbor institution somewhere in all of his books but says it “loud and proud” in The Inner Circle. Sharing thanks upon thanks with his friends, family, and fans, Meltzer set the jokes aside and wrapped it up with one final serious moment:  “I find words for a living and I can’t find the words to thank you.”

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

‘Blood, Bones & Butter’ in Our Own Backyard

It is far more likely that foodies rather than lit-junkies will recognize the name Gabrielle Hamilton, particularly if one lives in NYC. In her digs on 54 East 1st. Street, the touted chef and owner of Prune is soon to toss up her first book titled Blood, Bones & Butter:  The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.

“Before Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York City restaurant, Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find the purpose and meaning in her life,” divulges the Random House site. “BLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER recounts this unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton inhabited. The result is an unflinching and lyrical work that marks the debut of a tremendous literary talent.”

So where does a busy chef get her literary muscle? Turns out a few of those “hard-living years” were spent right in our own backyard. Ms Hamilton joins the growing ranks of published authors who have pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing at the University of Michigan. To make those MFA writing ends meet in Ann Arbor, Ms. Hamilton picked up a part-time catering gig in the process, ultimately launching her dual career.*

Already receiving high praise, Random House promises: “Hamilton will appeal to both foodies and literary audiences alike as she deliciously divulges her experiences in love, life, and food.”  The memoir “Blood, Bones, & Butter” is slated for release by Random House on March 1, 2011.

*Food & Wine piece:  A Mentor Named Misty

-Official link to memoir Blood, Bones & Butter

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

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Mengiste’s Heart Beats ‘Beneath the Lion’s Gaze’

“Once, I was beloved of God, the King of Kings. I was the Conquering Lion of Judah, a descendant of King Dawit. My blood, rich and red, is kin to that other King of Kings, the most Beloved. I ruled my kingdom in honor of His. We were as we were because He was. In this kingdom of men, angels walked amongst us, flesh and spirit side by side, fiery swords next to spears. Wings beat back bullets, bent Italian rifles, flattened tanks. Under a poisonous rain dripping from warplanes flying as low as insects, we have run and triumphed, shielded by feathers, our skin still whole and splendid under the sun.”

Addis Ababa stands at the proud yet conflicted heart of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, the ambitious Ethiopian tale by Maaza Mengiste. Set in the revolutionary throes of 1974, emperor Haile Selassie laments as he is forcibly removed from position due to festering discontent over the corruption and famine under his rule. As the military steps in and the merciless Derg establishes itself, conflict and uncertainty lead Ethiopia and its people into both patriotic and familial confusion. It is under the lion’s gaze of Ethiopia that Ms. Mengiste pens the poetic portrait of one family and their fierce attempt to hold on to each other and the land they so love.

Hailu is an unassuming, simple man. Though he holds post as a prominent physician, Hailu downplays his medical expertise to quietly concentrate on his increasingly difficult role as paterfamilias. Once his ailing, beloved wife Selam slips beyond the power of medicine and prayer, so too does his relationship with his discordant sons. And as the new regime penetrates the hallowed inner walls of Hailu’s hospital, their sinister presence also slips into the sacred spaces of  his home and family.

With eight years between them, Hailu’s sons Yonas and Dawit are at odds with each other and their homeland. Facing the unjust onslaught of the Derg and its factions, the elder Yonas opts for prayer while the young Dawit simmers and burns with a call to action. Afire with youthful indignation, Dawit reluctantly pulls away from his family disgusted by his perceptions of their apathy. Yet unbeknownst to Dawit, each carries a vicious passion easily rivaling his own and it is this profound intensity that provides the staggering spokes that spin Mengiste’s story.

Ms. Mengiste has an enviable patience with the pen that lifts her characters and settings to incredibly convincing heights. Methodically managing a trifecta of character, time and place, Mengiste cautiously manipulates each to mirror the turbulence shaking the very foundation of Ethiopia. Intimately fleshed-out, her myriad of colorful characters are muscled and precise, providing the perfect poetic device to navigate the tense emotional and geographical parameters of the story.

Though it’s hard to use the word tender for a work so jarring, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze achieves. Mengiste’s characters offer heart-rending performances in this astounding debut drawn from her own family history. Deftly capturing the powerful love of family and motherland, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is an ardent reminder of relentless spirit and what it means to truly be free.

*Maaza Mengiste is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

-NPR’s Weekend Edition:  In Ethiopia, A Monarch Falls in ‘The Lion’s Gaze’

-Maaza Mengiste’s Biography on BookBrowse

-Stars of Tomorrow in New York Books

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Filed under Authors, Beneath the Lion's Gaze, Book Reviews, Maaza Mengiste

Nicola’s Books to Host Elizabeth Kostova

Bestselling author Elizabeth Kostova will return to Ann Arbor on Wednesday night for a reading and signing of her new novel The Swan Thieves. No stranger to the area, Ms. Kostova holds an MFA from the University of Michigan where she won a 2003 Hopwood Award for her novel-in-progress.

The Swan Thieves, Kostova’s second novel, was released on January 12th with great anticipation after her widely embraced first work, The Historian. “It was a huge risk, but it was also very exciting,” Kostova shared on NPR’s Weekend Edition. “My first novel was heavily plotted, and although it’s a deeply felt novel for me, it’s kind of an intricate puzzle that I had to work out ahead of time. And this book I really wrote imagining the scenes almost the way you would stand in front of a painting. And it was a moving experience to be sort of there with the reader, not knowing exactly how this would turn out.”

Besides penning two novels, it’s important to note Elizabeth Kostova’s literary activities off the page as well. Through her Foundation for Creative Writing, which was created to “provide further opportunities for Bulgarian writers to foster their own work”, Kostova uses her considerable talents and opportunities to encourage and connect aspiring writers around the globe.

Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor will present bestselling author Elizabeth Kostova this Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7 PM. Nicola’s is considered one of the premier independent bookstore in the area and a proud member of IndieBound. Please remember to call and confirm all details prior to the event.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

NLR’s review of The Swan Thieves

Kostova’s intro to The Swan Thieves on YouTube

NPR’s Weekend Edition: Kostova’s ‘Swan Thieves’: Art, Love and Crime

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Filed under Elizabeth Kostova, Whimsy