Winter/Spring 2015 Season

Peter Heller

PAST EVENT: Thursday, February 12, 2015, 7 PM, Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater

Before turning his attention to novels, literary fiction breakout Peter Heller made a name for himself as a contributor to and editor for such publications as National Geographic Adventure, Outside Magazine, and Men’s Journal. Heller traveled on assignment to all corners of the globe, and parlayed many of his larger-than-life experiences into four gripping works of adventure nonfiction. Heller’s fiction debut, The Dog Stars, was a dystopian thriller. It became a New York Times bestseller and a ‘Best Book of 2012′ selection from both Publishers Weekly and Amazon. His second novel, The Painter, centers around a reclusive artist trying to outrun his checkered past. The New York Times calls it “a stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief.”

Listen to Peter Heller’s Podcast >>

Quan Barry

PAST EVENT: Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 7 PM, Northtown Library, Blaine

Quan Barry is a Vietnamese-American author and poet. Her work has appeared in a wide range of literary publications, including The New Yorker and Ploughshares. Quan Barry has written three poetry collections to date, Asylum (2001), Controvertibles (2004), and Water Puppets (2011). The last of these won the Donald Hall Poetry Prize from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and was a finalist for the 2012 PEN/Open Book Prize. In her newest novel, She Weeps Each Time You’re Born, Quan Barry draws from history and her personal experiences with her native country to “weave a chronicle of life in pre- and postwar Vietnam within the mystical and turbulent journey of the novel’s protagonist,” according to Booklist.

Listen to Quan Barry’s Podcast >>

Nadia Hashimi

PAST EVENT: Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 7 PM, Highland Park Community Center, Saint Paul

Nadia Hashimi made waves last year with the release of her fiction debut, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell – “a luminous tale of two women, destiny, and identity in Afghanistan,” according to Kirkus Reviews. Hashimi’s parents emigrated from their native Afghanistan in the 1970s, but a lifelong fascination with her cultural heritage led her to pen The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. The crisscrossing narrative follows two Afghan women, one in the present the other in the recent past, living as bacha posh —young women disguised as young men, a true Afghan practice. Hashimi, a pediatrician by training, received accolades for this “lyrical, heartbreaking account of silence lives” and is hard at work on a follow up centered around the experiences of Afghan refugees in Europe.

Listen to Nadia Hashimi’s Podcast >>

Jonathan Odell

PAST EVENT: Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 7 PM, Prior Lake Library, Prior Lake

Jonathan Odell’s popular books draw from and explore racial divisions that continue to define his native Mississippi. His second novel, 2012’s The Healing, garnered praise for its candid look at plantation life in the antebellum South, and was an American Booksellers Association (ABA) ‘Indie Next’ pick for that year. His most recent title, Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League, is the story of two Civil Rights era mothers – one wealthy and white and the other poor and black – bound together in unexpected ways. In addition to his novels, Odell is both a short story and essayist and a corporate leadership coach. In the latter role, he has published a number of titles on diversity and training in the workplace.

Listen to Jonathan Odell’s Podcast >>

Anthony Marra

PAST EVENT: Thursday, March 19, 2015, 6:30 PM, Chanhassen Public Library, Chanhassen

Anthony Marra’s 2013 opus, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, takes place against the backdrop of occupation and insurgency in war-torn Chechnya. NPR called it “one of the most accomplished and affecting books in a very long time.” It was a contender for the National Book Award, and won the author a number of awards and accolades – including the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize for emerging authors. Marra is a frequent contributor to publications ranging from The Atlantic to Narrative Magazine and MAKE Magazine. His other honors to date include a Whiting Writers’ Award and the prestigious Pushcart Prize.

Listen to Anthony Marra’s Podcast >>

Marisa de los Santos

PAST EVENT: Tuesday March 31, 2015, 7 PM, Roseville Library, Roseville

Over the last eight years, Marisa de los Santos has penned three consecutive New York Times bestsellers: Love Walked In in 2006, Belong to Me in 2011, and Falling Together in 2012. She is also an award-winning poet, with published work in a number of prominent journals to her credit, plus a collection all her own called From the Bones Out. In addition, de los Santos is co-writer (with her husband) of the young adult time-traveling odyssey Saving Lucas Biggs. De los Santos’ latest novel, The Precious One, promises to please old fans as well as new. It is “a satisfying novel about friends rediscovering one another — and confronting unwelcome truths — at their college reunion,” according to People.

Listen to Marisa de los Santo’s Podcast >>

Jon Ronson

PAST EVENT: Monday, April 13, 2015, 6:30 PM, R.H. Stafford Library, Woodbury

Jon Ronson is among Britain’s most prolific journalists and documentarians, and a household name throughout that country. He first came to the attention of most Americans with the publication of Them: Adventures with Extremists in 2001 and the even more successful The Men Who Stare At Goats in 2004. In the latter, Ronson investigated the strange but true experiments conducted until just recently by a secret department within the U.S. Army. It was the basis for a 2009 movie of the same name starring and produced by George Clooney. Ronson’s most recent book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, offers a witty but eye-opening look at the widespread but little studied social phenomenon of public shaming.

Listen to Jon Ronson’s Podcast >>

Garth Stein

PAST EVENT: Monday, April 20, 2015, 7 PM, Galaxie Library, Apple Valley

Literary dynamo Garth Stein is best known by many for 2008’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, a runaway hit that spent a consecutive 156 weeks on The New York Times bestsellers list. In addition to penning several other well received novels, Stein is also an accomplished playwright and film producer, whose credits include a 1991 Academy Award win in the short film category. His newest book, A Sudden Light, is a masterful blend of ghost tale and coming-of-age story, centered around a 14-year-old desperate to uncover the dark secrets hidden in his ancestral estate. Random House calls it “a triumphant work of a master storyteller at the height of his power,” and Booklist lauds it as simply “haunting in all the right ways.”

Listen to Garth Stein’s Podcast >>

Sonia Nazario

PAST EVENT: Monday, April 27, 2015, 7 PM, Southdale Library, Edina

Sonia Nazario is the foremost journalist writing today on topics of social justice. She began her distinguished career with the Wall Street Journal – the youngest writer ever hired by that newspaper – and later made a name for herself covering immigration and drug issues for the Los Angeles Times. A 1998 feature profiling the lives of the children of drug addicts put Nazario in contention for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. A six-part series on children emigrating from Latin America, titled “Enrique’s Journey,” won that Pulitzer and more than a dozen other awards. In 2006, Nazario published the book-length adaptation of Enrique’s Journey to wide acclaim. It remains one of the three most popular “community reads” selections in the country.