PAST EVENT: Tuesday, August 28 at 6:30 PM, Washington County Library – R.H. Stafford
Chart-topping mystery phenom Karin Slaughter is the author behind nearly twenty thrillers to date. Collectively, her books have sold a staggering 35 million copies across more than 120 countries. She is best known for the nine-book Grant County series, set in rural Georgia, which launched her writing career in 2001. It centers around small town pediatrician and part-time coroner Dr. Sara Linton and her husband, the local chief of police. Slaughter also writes the so-called Atlanta series, which follows special agents at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Unsurprisingly, her two worlds have collided a number of times, beginning with the bestselling novel Undone (2009). Karin Slaughter has also written several well received standalones. Three of these – Cop Town (2014), The Good Daughter (2017), and Pieces of Her (2018) – are currently in development for film or television adaptations. Pieces of Her debuts in August. In a starred review, Booklist promises: “Readers will find themselves totally immersed in Slaughter’s suspenseful, alternating story lines, and won’t want either of them to end.”
Abdi Nor Iftin
PAST EVENT: Monday, September 17 at 7 PM, Augsburg University – Foss Lobeck Miles Center
Somali expat and debut author Abdi Nor Iftin is the pen behind one of the most anticipated – and most timely – nonfiction releases of 2018. Iftin’s long and harrowing journey to America, as part of the U.S. Government’s embattled Diversity Visa Program, came to the attention of audiences around the world through a viral BBC Radio mini-series. Iftin’s larger-than-life immigration story begins in war-torn Mogadishu, where he risked his life chronicling the rise of Islamic extremism in Somalia as an underground NPR correspondent. He narrowly escaped to a refugee camp in Kenya, where against long odds he received an invitation from the U.S. Embassy to interview for a visa in 2014. Chart-topping radio show and podcast This American Life packaged Iftin’s nightly interviews with BBC journalist Leo Hornak into a popular episode in 2015 (“Abdi and the Golden Ticket”). He is now living in Portland, Maine, where he works as an English interpreter for other Somali immigrants and recently collected his stories into a book. Call Me American debuted in June.
PAST EVENT: Tuesday, September 25 at 6:30 PM, Washington County Library – R.H. Stafford
Award-winning journalist and feminist icon Peggy Orenstein is a leading voice in the national conversations around gender norms and expectations. Her influential exposés include Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture (2011) and Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape (2016). Orenstein has also penned a bestselling and candid memoir about her personal struggles with infertility and motherhood. She has been featured on a dozen major media outlets, including Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Today Show, and NPR’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. In 2012, the Columbia Journalism Review named Orenstein one of “40 Women Who Changed the Media Business Over 40 Years.” Her latest project is a wide-ranging anthology, Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex and Life. Library Journal – among a host of other publications – praised it with a starred review, sure to “enrich the reader’s understanding of everything from abortion laws, to breast cancer, to pornography and body image.”
PAST EVENT: Wednesday, September 26 at 7 PM, Ramsey County Library – Roseville
Eli Saslow is a Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist, and a leading voice in the discourse around resurgent white nationalism and how to combat it. His first book-length treatment of this subject, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, hits shelves in September. The book follows Saslow’s relationship with Derek Black, a white supremacist from one of the movement’s most high-profile families. In college, Black’s interactions with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds led him to question (and ultimately reject) the worldview of his upbringing. Saslow first introduced Black’s story in 2016, in a seminal piece for The Washington Post. Saslow’s previous works of note include Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President (2011), which profiles a sampling of poignant letters received – and responded to – by President Obama. Among other high journalism honors, Saslow earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for a hard-hitting Washington Post series on the rise in food stamps usage. He won the George Polk Award for National Reporting that same year.
PAST EVENT: Friday, October 12 at 7 PM, Anoka County Library – Northtown
Curt Brown is a newspaper byline known to many through a popular and long-running Sunday history series in the Star Tribune. Brown has spent more than three decades in journalism, culminating in a prestigious recognition as Minnesota Journalist of the Year in 2013. He received that laurel for his serialized narrative on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Repackaged and sold as an e-book, In the Footsteps of Little Crow, Brown’s masterful account landed him on the New York Times bestseller list. Brown’s other titles include Frozen in History: Amazing Tales from Minnesota’s Past, another Star Tribune series anthology, and The William Marvy Co. of Saint Paul – a quirky tale about the nation’s last barber pole- making family. Brown’s latest and highest profile release, Minnesota 1918, chronicles a uniquely trying but pivotal year. One hundred years ago, Minnesota faced a unique “trifecta of horrors” (Pioneer Press): causalities abroad in a world war, rampant and deadly influenza at home, and the state’s most destructive natural disaster on record.
PAST EVENT: Monday, October 15 at 7 PM, Scott County Library – Prior Lake
National Book Award winner Julia Glass won one of fiction’s highest honors with her debut novel. That breakout, Three Junes (2002), follows the lives and loves of a Scottish family over the course of a full decade. Upon its release, The New York Times Book Review gushed: “Three Junes brilliantly rescues, then refurbishes, the traditional plot-driven novel.” Subsequent bestsellers to Glass’s credit include The Whole World Over (2007), I See You Everywhere (2008), The Widower’s Tale (2010), and And the Dark Sacred Night (2014). This last revisits several of the characters and settings from Three Junes. Glass is also a prize-winning short fiction writer and a frequent anthology collaborator. Glass’s new full-length novel, A House Among the Trees, centers around the childhood secrets and shocking last will and testament of a world-renowned children’s book author. The National Book Review calls it: “Enthralling… Glass is a master at withholding information until just the right moment.”
PAST EVENT: Thursday, October 25 at 6:30 PM, Carver County Library – Chanhassen
Outside of the United States, the city of Duluth is best known by many as the primary setting for the mysteries of prolific, internationally bestselling novelist Brian Freeman. He is the author behind the acclaimed Jonathan Stride detective series. Stride’s 2006 debut, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a finalist for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony and Barry awards for best first novel. Freeman introduced a second popular protagonist, eccentric Florida investigator Cab Bolton, in The Bone House (2011). Freeman’s titles have been printed in 22 different languages and sold in 46 countries to date. His latest, Alter Ego, is the ninth installment in the Jonathan Stride series. In this memorable case, Duluth’s famous son finds himself investigating a mercurial Hollywood actor starring in a film about none other than Stride himself! The Star Tribune called Alter Ego “a practically perfect summer read… Brian Freeman’s latest explores the cult of celebrity and the sociopaths that it sometimes shelters.”
PAST EVENT: Tuesday, October 30 at 7 PM, Saint Paul Public Library – Rondo
African American historian Wil Haygood made waves in 2008 with the publication of a feature in The Washington Post titled “A Butler Well Served by This Election.” It profiled the life and service of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who worked under eight presidents over the course of 34 years. It is the inspiration behind the Lee Daniels movie of the same name, starring Oprah Winfrey and Forrest Whitaker. In 2013, as a tie-in to the Hollywood film, Haygood fleshed out Allen’s story into a New York Times bestselling biography, The Butler: A Witness to History. Haygood has also penned biographers of African American luminaries including musician Sammy Davis Jr., boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, and Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. Haygood’s new book, Tigerland, tells the remarkable untold story of baseball and basketball teams at a poor, black, segregated high school in Ohio. The Tigers both won high-profile state championships (and made national headlines) in 1968-1969 against the backdrop of escalating racial tensions.
PAST EVENT: Tuesday, November 13 at 7 PM, Hennepin County Library – Southdale
David Grann is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His gripping debut, The Lost City of Z (2009), follows the life and mysterious disappearance of Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett. It is the basis for the 2016 movie of the same name, starring Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson. Grann’s follow-up, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes (2010), is a twelve-essay anthology. Each entry focuses on someone with an all-consuming passion in life that leads them into decidedly unusual (and sometimes deadly) situations. Grann solidified his reputation in 2017 with Killers of the Flower Moon, a shocking exposé that documents one of the most sinister racial injustices in American history – and the founding of the modern FBI. In his newest release, The White Darkness, Grann returns to the world of intrepid explorers. This lavishly illustrated book follows the story of Henry Worsley, a special forces veteran eager to retrace the steps of famed adventurer Ernest Shackleton – and to do the legend one better, by traversing the full length of the Antarctic on foot. The White Darkness hits shelves in October.
PAST EVENT: Wednesday, November 14 at 7 PM, Dakota Public Library – Galaxie
Bestselling author Deborah Blum is one of America’s foremost science writers, and one of only a handful to find publishing success writing about the history of science. Blum’s debut, The Monkey Wars (1994), grew out of a Pulitzer Prize winning series she wrote for the Sacramento Bee about the ethical implications of primate research. Blum’s follow-ups demonstrate her research range: Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences between Men and Woman (1998), and Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death (2007). Blum’s popularity grew still further in 2010, with The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. One review lauded The Poisoner’s Handbook as “a vicious, page-turning story that reads more like Raymond Chandler than Madam Curie.” Plum’s newest book, The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, follows in a similar vein. It tells the surprising – sometimes stomach-churning – story of the unsung heroes we have to thank for today’s food industry safety protocols.