Tuesday, November 12 at 7 PM
Saint Paul Public Library – Saint Anthony Park
2245 Como Avenue, Saint Paul
Lara Prescott belongs to the small, exclusive club of authors who have had their work optioned for film. While this is an impressive accomplishment on the face of it, still fewer writers can claim to have reached this milestone before their first book even hit shelves! Prescott’s highly anticipated literary debut, The Secrets We Kept, premieres September 3. It tells the true story behind the writing and incendiary publication of the Cold War era novel Doctor Zhivago. Now a mainstay of the Russia’s literary canon, Doctor Zhivago is a tale of life and love set during the Russian Revolution. Penned by controversial Soviet national Boris Pasternak, the manuscript was smuggled to Italy in the 1950s. Prescott’s retelling is already receiving rave reviews. In a starred review, Booklist opined: “Spy stories offer high reader appeal, but Prescott’s debut far surpasses the typical genre fare…Through extensive research, Prescott artfully illuminates the CIA’s role in helping disseminate the Soviet-banned masterwork.” The Secrets We Kept will debut in a staggering 28 languages. A film treatment, helmed by Oscar-nominated producer of La La Land and Bridge of Spies, is now in the works.
Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 PM
Ramsey County Library – New Brighton
400 10th Street NW, New Brighton
Gish Jen is a second generation Chinese American, and a thoughtful chronicler of emigration, assimilation, and multiculturalism as they relate to the modern American experience. The Los Angeles Times said of her 1991 debut, Typical American: “Jen has done much more than tell an immigrant story… She has done it in some ways better than it has ever been done before.” Jen’s shrewd insights and sensitive prose are not confined to novels. Her fiction has appeared an impressive four times in the competitive Best American Short Stories anthology. Jen’s forays into nonfiction include The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Exploring the East-West Culture Gap and Tiger Writing, a semi-autobiographical examination of “self” in different cultural contexts. Jen’s eighth and latest book, The Resisters, offers something of a departure; it is set in a dystopian future ravaged by climate change. In a deeply divided society, baseball prodigy Gwen is plucked from the slums to represent North America in the newly reconstituted Olympic games. Gwen and this most innocuous of sports become an unexpected rallying point for disenfranchised social justice warriors. The Resisters debuted February 4.
Tuesday, March 10 at 7 PM
Scott County Library – Prior Lake
16210 Eagle Creek Avenue SE, Prior Lake
Brad Taylor is the pen behind the New York Times bestselling Pike Logan series. Now spanning fourteen installments, Taylor’s high-octane thrillers center around “the Taskforce” – a highly trained covert ops team answerable only to a select few at the highest rungs of government. Protagonist Pike Logan first burst onto the scene in 2011’s One Rough Man, which earned Taylor glowing comparisons to established heavyweights like Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, and Brad Thor. Reviewers praised the believability of Taylor’s storylines and settings; and that authenticity has been hard won. Taylor served more than two decades in the U.S. Army, in both the Infantry and Special Forces divisions, including a stint with the clandestine Delta Force. His talents are on full display in Hunter Killer. Logan’s latest adventure finds the elite Taskforce, often the hunters, in the unfamiliar role of the hunted. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a surefire hit for those who like contemporary foreign affairs spiced heavily with page-turning action.” HarperCollins will rerelease Hunter Killer in paperback on January 7.
Tuesday, March 24 at 7 PM
Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central
300 Nicollett Mall, Minneapolis
Moroccan American novelist Laila Lalami uses fiction as a vehicle to showcase “overlooked” North African stories and experiences. Her work spans the historical and the contemporary. Notable examples include her 2014 breakout The Moor’s Account, which reconstructs the journeys of the New World’s first explorer of color. Lauded as “a bold and exhilarating bid to give a real-life figure muzzled by the history the chance to have his say” (San Francisco Chronicle), The Moor’s Account won the American Book Award, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Lalami’s follow-up, The Other Americans, was singled out by media as varied as the BBC and BuzzFeed as one of the most anticipated releases of 2019. Equal parts family drama, murder mystery, and love story, the novel centers around the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant in California. The Washington Post praised it as “a searching exploration” of marginalized groups “with whom mainstream American society has a vexed relationship.” The Other Americans put Lalami in contention for the 2019 National Book Award and prestigious Kirkus Prize for Fiction. It is slated for a March 17 paperback rerelease.
Thursday, March 26 at 6:30 PM
Washington County Library – R.H. Stafford
8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury
Few authors writing today boast the cross-genre appeal or international following of novelist James Rollins. Over the past three decades, Rollins has published six standalone thrillers, two volumes in the popular Jake Ransom middle grade series, and the novelization of the 2008 Steven Spielberg film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Under the pen name James Clemens, Rollins has also written not one but two high fantasy arcs – The Banned and the Banished, and the ongoing Godslayer series. However, Rollins is best known for his #1 New York Times bestselling Sigma Force series. Commissioned by the U.S. government, this elite corps explores and safeguards all manner of ‘anomalies’ with national security implications. Booklist raves that: “Fans of Clive Cussler, Steve Berry, and Michael Crichton should already have Rollins on their mandatory reading list.” With more than 20 million copies of his books in print in nearly 40 languages, it’s clear that many already do! In the Sigma Force’s latest adventure, The Last Odyssey, the team questions everything they thought they knew about the (supposedly mythological) Trojan War and epic poetry of Homer. It hits shelves March 24.
Thursday, April 9 at 7 PM
Metropolitan State University Library & Learning Center
Co-hosted with Saint Paul Public Library
645 East 7th Street, Saint Paul
Acclaimed journalist and climate advocate Dahr Jamail is the author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption. Part travelogue and part research exposé, The End of Ice offers a sobering look at the “geographic front lines” – areas of the planet that are most immediately and visibly impacted by global warming. Front-line reporting is Jamail’s forte. He cut his teeth as a wartime correspondent in Iraq, as one of only a handful of so-called unembedded reporters to travel without military escort and report out for Western audiences after the 2003 invasion by American-led forces. In 2007, the Nader Trust for the Community Interest bestowed Jamail with the prestigious Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, which “recognizes individuals who take a public stance to advocate truth and justice, at some personal risk.”
Jamail’s pivot to climate issues stemmed from his personal passion for mountaineering, which affords “a stronger connection to nature…. something that Jamail says many people living in urban areas have lost or left behind” (Smithsonian). The End of Ice will be republished in paperback on March 10.
Wednesday, April 22 at 7 PM
Dakota County Library – Galaxie
14955 Galaxie Avenue, Apple Valley
Kate Quinn is one of the best known – and bestselling – authors writing today in the realm of historical fiction. Standouts include the Empress of Rome series, four books praised by fellow historical fiction mainstay Diana Gabaldon as “so vivid they burn into your mind’s eye and stay with you long after you turn the final page.” A master of many time periods, Quinn also wrote two novels set during the Renaissance, and a co-authored standalone that focuses on the lives of women during and in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Recently, Quinn has brought her “compelling blend of historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction” (Library Journal) to the two World Wars. Based on a true story, 2017’s The Alice Network focuses on a French and female-driven espionage ring in the Great War. Among other honors, actress Reese Witherspoon selected it as one of the inaugural picks for her popular Reese’s Book Club. Quinn’s follow up, The Huntress, explores the tumultuous period in Europe immediately following World War II. An instant New York Times bestseller, The Huntress “delivers intrigue worthy of a Hitchcock movie” (Wall Street Journal).
Monday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Carver County Library – Chanhassen
7711 Kerber Blvd, Chanhassen
Four years ago, Washington Post reporter Chris Ingraham found himself at the center of a social media firestorm. An analyst by training, Ingraham had mined available data to draw up a comprehensive ranking of the most (and least) scenic and livable places in the United States. Published by the Post in August 2015, Ingraham’s findings saddled Red Lake Falls, Minnesota with the dubious title of Worst Place to Live. Outcry from dissenting Minnesotans surprised the author, as did an earnest invitation to visit Red Lake Falls and see for himself. This field trip set Ingraham down an improbable path that would eventually lead the journalist to not simply retract or amend his earlier judgement – but to relocate his family to the Red Lake area. Ingraham chronicles this journey of discovery, and self-discovery, in his new book If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now. Subtitled “Why We Traded the Commuting Life for a Little House on the Prairie,” Ingraham’s book offers a humorous yet contemplative, and surprisingly heart-warming look at the urban-rural divide and what we stand to learn from one another.
Monday, May 4 at 7 PM
Anoka County Library – Northtown
711 County Road 10 NE, Blaine
Minnesota’s own Benjamin Percy is a master of many genres. Comic book fans may know him best as a favored storyteller for DC and Marvel heavyweights like X-Men and the superhero Teen Titans. Comic Book Resources dubbed his treatment of Green Arrow, a DC franchise with eighty years of history, as “a reinvigorating breath of fresh air.” He also holds the singular distinction of writing and developing Marvel’s first-ever scripted podcast – a ten-episode murder mystery audio drama featuring X-Men’s Wolverine. Percy has also penned four genre-defying novels to date, including most recently Indie Next Pick and Minnesota Book Award finalist The Dark Net. Uniquely blending elements of cyberpunk and occult horror, The Dark Net “is undeniably creepy… a gory, cautionary tale” (Kirkus Reviews). Percy is equally adept with short prose; he has two Pushcart Prizes to his name, as well as the prestigious Plimpton Prize. His latest include Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction and the spine-tinging 2019 short story collection Suicide Woods. In a starred review, Kirkus Review raves about the latter: “Like modern Grimm fairy tales, the stories in this volume are cautionary and haunting.”