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Monday, March 27

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« Event Spotlight: Printers Row Lit Fest Cat's Cradle Discussion Questions »

Events Wed Jun 03 2009

GB Book Club Guide to the Printers Row Lit Fest

It's time once again for the Printers Row Lit Fest, that annual event that features authors from all over the country and booksellers as far as the eye can see. If you've been to the Fest in the past, you know what you're in for, but if not, here is a guide to help direct you to some authors that will be of particular interest to Book Club members.

Luis Alberto Urrea - Saturday, 11:30am in the University Center/Loop Room
Luis Alberto Urrea speaks with Carolyn Alessio about his latest book Into the Beautiful North, a story about a young woman in a Mexican village who dreams about her father who crossed the US border to find work, only to realize that almost all the men in her village have done the same. Urrea's The Hummingbird's Daughter, about a girl's struggles on her rise to fame as a faith healer in Mexico, was our March 2007 selection.

Billy Lombardo, Joe Meno and Peter Ferry - Saturday, 11:45am in the Hotel Blake Burnham Room
The three authors speak with Donna Seaman of NPR's Eight Forty-Eight. Joe Meno's latest work, The Great Perhaps, follows a Chicago family on the brink of dissolution as they struggle to find something to keep them together. Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned was the inaugural Book Club selection. Peter Ferry's Travel Writing is this English teacher's debut, semi-autobiographical novel about a mysterious car accident and the beautiful woman who, as a result, is killed. We will read Travel Writing in November of this year. Billy Lombardo's first collection of stories, The Logic of a Rose, focuses on a young boy living in Bridgeport and the everyday life of boyhood and adolescence.

Aleksander Hemon and Joseph O'Neill - Saturday 2:30pm in the Harold Washington Library Center Multi-Purpose Room
Aleksander Hemon's Nowhere Man was our October 2005 selection. His latest collection of stories, Love and Obstacles, is a starkly realistic portrait of a life as a Bosnian living in America. Hemon is joined by Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland, a book about a man left alone in New York after 9/11 who shares his immigrant experience with a Trinidadian through the subculture of cricket. This is a ticketed event.

"Stud's Terkel's Working: A Graphic Adaptation" - Saturday, 4pm in the Books & Media Stage: University Center Lake Room
Graphic novelists Paul Buhle and Harvey Pekar have been working on translating the late Studs Terkel's Working, an oral history of America's labor forces, into a graphic novel. Today they will speak about their work on this project with Rick Kogan and Elizabeth Taylor. Terkel's seminal Division Street: America was our February 2006 selection.

Elizabeth Berg and Elizabeth Strout - Sunday, 1pm on the Center Stage
Elizabeth Berg is the author of over twenty books, two of which have been selected as the American Library Association's Best Book of the Year and one of which was chosen to be part of Oprah's Book Club. Berg has also been awarded the AMC Cancer Research Center's Illuminator Award for her work on bringing increased public awareness to breast cancer. We read Berg's The Year of Pleasures, about a new widow finding life after her husband's death, in May 2007. She is joined by Elizabeth Strout, whose novel Olive Kitteridge was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction earlier this year.

* * *

Below are some additional authors with local ties that are not to be missed:

Dave Eggers - Saturday, 10am on the Main Stage in the Harold Washington Library Center
A Lake Forest native and a superstar author and literacy activist, Dave Eggers latest work is the screenplay of Away We Go, a film starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph that opens this month. Eggers rose to literary stardom with his semi-autobiographical book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and his work on the literary magazine McSweeney's. He has also put his efforts toward the literacy non-profit 826 Valencia, which helps students with their writing skills and aids teachers in getting their classes excited about writing. The organization has since expanded to Chicago, Seattle, New York and other cities. This is a ticketed event.

Sean Chercover, Marcus Sakey and Jeffrey Deaver - Saturday, 11am in the Harold Washington Library Center Multi-Purpose Room
Moderated by Barbara D'Amato, these three local mystery and crime writers share stories about their work. Sean Chercover has followed newspaper-paper-turned-private-detective Ray Dudgeon in two novels, Big City Bad Blood and Trigger City, the latter of which was the recipient of the Dilys Award by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Marcus Sakey's latest book, The Amateurs, is slated for release in August and follows a group of twenty-somethings who are pushed to the edge when a supposedly victimless crime goes awry. Jeffrey Deaver is the author of the Lincoln Rhyme series, most notably The Bone Collector upon which the film of the same name was based. He is the author of twenty-five novels and two short story collections and is a three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Reader's Award for Best Short Story of the Year. This is a ticketed event.

Kyle Beachy and Nami Mun - Saturday 1:30pm in the University Center River Room
Kyle Beachy's The Slide, a love story and a portrait of a family in crisis, and Nami Mun's Miles from Nowhere, a story about a Korean immigrant who runs away from her family at the age of thirteen, have put these two debut local authors on the map. Today they speak with Tony Romano about their work.

Brian D'Amato and Barbara D'Amato - Saturday, 1:45pm in the University Center Loop Room
Brian D'Amato's latest sci-fi book, In the Courts of the Sun, takes a look at December 21, 2012, the day that the Mayans predicted the end of the earth. Barbara D'Amato has served as the president of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime International and has taught mystery writing to Chicago police officers. Her latest work, Death of a Thousand Cuts, follows the shocking death of a revered doctor at a celebratory gala.

Ivan Brunetti and Chip Kidd - Saturday, 2:15pm on the Center Stage
Ivan Brunetti is on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago and was curator of The Cartoonist's Eye, their 2005 exhibit of the work of 75 artists. He is also the editor of the two volumes of Yale University Press's An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories. His work can be found in the collections Misery Loves Comedy and Ho!. Chip Kidd is an author and graphic designer, well known for his numerous book jacket designs. He has designed covers for Haruki Murakami, Frank Miller, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt and many others.

Chris Ware and Lynda Barry - Saturday, 3:15pm on the Center Stage
Chris Ware, much lauded graphic novelist, speaks with fellow local graphic novelist Lynda Barry. Ware is best known for his Acme Novelty Library Series, as well as the graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and the character of Quimby the Mouse. Lynda Barry is known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek, as well as several graphic novels, the latest of which, What It Is, is a semi-autobiographical experiment with creativity and imagination.

Book TV "In Depth" Interview with Bill Ayers - Sunday, 11am-2pm in the University Center Loop Room
Having come into the public eye during the 2008 election, University of Illinois-Chicago professor Bill Ayers talks with Book TV about his work. His latest book is Race Course: Against White Supremacy, a collection of essays by two veteran political activists. Bernardine Dohrn makes a special appearance. Limited seating is available for this taping.

Gwendolyn Brooks Birthday Bash - Sunday, 1pm on the Arts & Poetry Stage
Local publisher Third World Press holds a celebration of Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who would be 92 on this date. Brooks had a prolific career, with more than twenty-five books to her name, is remembered in name by several schools, and was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.

Jacquelyn Mitchard, James Kennedy, Saundra Mitchell and Sally Nemeth - Sunday, 1pm in the University Center River Room
Four young adult authors come together to discuss their work in the genre. A native of Chicago who now lives in Wisconsin, Jacquelyn Mitchard's latest young adult work is All We Know of Heaven, a story about lifetime best friends who are involved in a fatal car crash and a case of mistaken identity. Mitchard is also the author of a number of novels for adults, including The Deep End of the Ocean, which was named one of the ten most influential books of the past twenty-five years. James Kennedy's debut novel, The Order of Odd-Fish, follows a girl whose life is caught up in a dangerous legend that she must learn to either live with or overcome. The book was nominated for the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults in 2009 and was named as one of the Smithsonian Notable Books for Children in 2008. Saundra Mitchell is a screenwriter and author whose debut novel, Shadowed Summer, was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection in 2009. Sally Nemeth is a native of Chicago and a graduate of Northwestern University. Her novel The Heights, the Depths, and Everything in Between, is a story about friendship, loyalty and growing up in junior high.

* * *

Below are some booksellers, publishers and organizations that have become essential to the promotion of Chicago's literary scene. They support local authors both established and unknown and help keep local literature the exciting enterprise that it is. Sidewalk/tent placement is listed next to each name.

Barbara's Bookstore - 250
Barbara's Bookstore opened its doors in 1963 and has grown to occupy several stores throughout Chicago, from Macy's on State St. to UIC to Oak Park. Though wholly independent, Barbara's has since expanded to New York, Minneapolis, Boston and Philadelphia. They feature a great array of fiction, nonfiction and local writings as well as playing host to numerous up and coming and established writers.

Bookworks - 152 & 154
This Lakeview used bookstore offers not only contemporary reads and literary classics, but also out-of-print and rare books and used and rare recordings. Genres include cookbooks, philosophy, science fiction, children's books, humor, pop culture and more. Their online store provides a useful tool for out of town fans of the store or anyone who wants to avoid ordering from the big chain sellers.

"Chicago Publishers" Presented by the DCA - J
Debuting in late 2008, the Chicago Publishers Gallery is housed at the Cultural Center and features the works of over 125 local publishers. From independent zines to university presses to trade publication to comic books, the Gallery is an expansive display of everything the Chicago literary community has to offer. Admission to the Gallery is free and is open everyday except for holidays.

Chicago Writers Association - GG-1
The Chicago Writers Association is a creative community of local writers whose interests span genres, styles and experience levels. The Association mentors teen writers, holds writing competitions and is working on a Chicago literary hall of fame project. Their hope is to assist all writers to achieve their writing goals as well as to "promote Chicago as a place of literary distinction."

Featherproof Books - 327, 329
A local, independent publisher, Featherproof's most unique aspect is the free mini-books they feature on their website. They're downloadable, foldable, staple-able and ready to carry in your back pocket everywhere. This young publisher has also put out several full-sized novels. In the world of independent publishing, these guys continue to be the ones to watch.

Lake Claremont Press - DD-3
Lake Claremont Press publishes some of the most in-depth and well-researched books about the city. Learn about Chicago ghostlore and graveyards, brush on the great Chicago fires, take in a drink and a burger at the infamous Billy Goat Tavern or pick up one of their guidebooks, such as those catering to foodies, blues fans and gays and lesbians. Lake Claremont has always remained true to showcasing the city in the best light that it can.

Literacy Chicago - 317
Literacy Chicago uses the efforts of volunteers and their staff to improve literacy through a wide range of the population. From adult literacy classes to GED preparation to ESL to fundraising events, the organization is a noteworthy force in increasing literacy and illiteracy awareness.

Open Books
As the organization coordinating all the volunteers for the Fest, you'll likely see lots of people running around sporting t-shirts with the indelible Open Books logo. Open Books has quickly become one of the farthest reaching literacy non-profits in the city, helping both adults and children, in school and out of school, better themselves through reading and writing. Book Club members may recognize them as our recent Book Swap & Drive partners. With their non-profit used bookstore opening in the near future, Open Books is sure to become the preeminent literacy organization in Chicago.

Powell's Bookstore - U
Everyone knows Powell's from their massive Portland location, but few know that it started right here in Hyde Park. With two other locations - one in Printers Row and the other in Lakeview - Powell's has some of the greatest used and remained books for impossible to beat prices. Each store has its own feel and focuses on slightly different genres, meaning that everyone favors one particular store and will go out of their way to visit it. The Powell's North location also holds a monthly reading series, matching established writers with rising local talent.

Rock For Reading - 245
Rock for Reading works to raise awareness and resources through musical concerts and benefits. They also award grants to literacy and reading programs and work to educate the public about illiteracy in America. The organization originally started with a benefit concert in Chicago and has now expanded to "Creating a Nation of Readers," a program that addresses youth illiteracy rates across the nation.

The Book Cellar - 00-1
Home to the our own Book Club, the Book Cellar holds some of the greatest free literary events in the city. They've held readings from many authors, including Studs Terkel and Alpana Singh, hold their own monthly book club discussion group, offer their space up to several other book clubs and every month give a platform to emerging writers with their Local Author Night. Their events schedule is a must-read and the welcoming staff makes an everyday visit a great time.

The Newberry Library - 142
One of the largest independent research libraries in the country, the Newberry Library offers a vast array of rare book collections, manuscripts, exhibits, lectures, discussions and humanities classes. The Library is dedicated to advancing knowledge, particularly in the humanities, and in service to the community, it remains free and open to the public.

Third World Press - E-2
Founded in 1967 by Haki R. Madhubuti, Third World Press works to publish quality literature on issues, themes and criticism relevant to African Americans while cultivating a broader readership interested in gaining insight into African American cultural traditions. The Press was started in a basement apartment on the South Side of the city and has since gone on to publish works by Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, Amiri Baraka and numerous others.

Women & Children First - FF-1
In addition to being a general fiction bookstore, Women & Children First is also one the best places to pick up literature on feminism and gender studies. The women-owned store offers its own book club, free events with everyone from Erica Jong to the women of Bitch Magazine, and the Women's Voices Fund, which works to preserve the discussion of feminist issues and culture and nurture children's interest in books.

* * *

The Printers Row Book Fair is held in the Printers Row neighborhood, in the blocks surrounding the intersection of Dearborn and Polk streets. Call 312-222-3986 for more information or visit their website.

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Lucy P. / June 3, 2009 2:17 PM

Great list. I can't wait for this weekend!

Also, make sure to stop by the Haymarket Books table. It is one of the largest publishing houses on the left and they have a great selection of revolutionary and radical literature!

leah / June 3, 2009 9:59 PM

Another really wonderful unmentioned bookstore is Unabridged at Broadway and Melrose. Nothing compares to it.

Veronica Bond / June 4, 2009 8:56 AM

Leah -- I checked again and I don't see Unabridged on the Fest's exhibitor list. Are they going to be there? I agree that it's a wonderful bookstore - it's one of my favorites.

Doug Seibold / June 4, 2009 9:55 AM

Hi, just wanted to add that our Chicago-based publishing company, Agate, will also be exhibiting at PRLF. We share the DD tent with Lake Claremont Press. In addition we'll have six Agate authors presenting or demo'ing at the show, four of whom are locally based. Sorry we didn't catch your attention for this preview piece, but I hope your readers might still seek us out.

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