A passionate, lyrical witness of the Haitian diaspora, a fearless chronicler of a dystopian future, a star of young-adult fantasy fiction and a beloved Southern novelist/screenwriter will visit the Twin Cities for the fall 2013 season of Talking Volumes.
Now in its 14th year, Talking Volumes brings celebrated writers to the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul for live events that are rebroadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. The new season features National Book Award finalist Edwidge Danticat (Sept. 25), Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood (Oct. 1), young-adult bestseller Rick Riordan (Oct. 15) and novelist/screenwriter Pat Conroy (Nov. 12).
Opening the season is Danticat, who drew attention with her much-praised debut novel, “Breath, Eyes, Memory,” published in 1994 when she was just 25. It later became an Oprah Book Club selection.
Danticat, who moved from Haiti to the United States at age 12, was nominated for a National Book Award for the story collection “Krik? Krak!” and won the American Book Award for “The Farming of Bones,” a novel about a massacre of Haitians by Dominicans in 1937.
Danticat will read from and talk about “Claire of the Sea Light,” her first novel for adults since “The Dew Breaker” in 2004. It’s the story of a motherless 7-year-old girl who is reported missing in a seaside town.
Following on the cult status of bestsellers “Oryx & Crake” and “The Year of the Flood,” Atwood completes her trilogy with “MaddAddam,” a dark and pungent imagining of a post-pandemic world with a few human survivors, a race of bioengineered beings, strange and dangerous animals, and a reluctant, exiled prophet.
Atwood, who lives in Toronto, has written more than 30 books, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essays. She won the 2000 Booker Prize for her novel “The Blind Assassin.” Among her best-known works is “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was made into an opera that received its North American premiere in a 2003 staging by Minnesota Opera.
Talking Volumes enters the world of young-adult fiction with Riordan, whose enormously popular novels merge fantasy and adventure with Greek and Roman mythology. Following the success of his bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Riordan launched the Heroes of Olympus books. The fourth entry in that series is “The House of Hades,” the newest novel of demigods and youthful feats of derring-do. Two Riordan novels have been made into movies, including this summer’s “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.”
Also linking fiction and movies is Conroy, famous for such bestsellers as “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini,” both of which became movies.
Conroy will discuss his new book, “The Death of Santini,” a memoir that is hotly anticipated by fans of “The Great Santini.” Conroy said his father “loathed my depiction of him in the ‘The Great Santini,’ and he set out to prove me wrong by turning himself into something that was recognizably human. It’s the great surprise of my life that I ended up loving him so much.”
Conroy’s other books include novels (“Beach Music,” “The Lords of Discipline”), nonfiction (“My Losing Season”) and even a cookbook.
Talking Volumes is a partnership of the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, in collaboration with the Loft Literary Center. Kerri Miller, host of “The Daily Circuit” on MPR, interviews the authors at the live events, which include performances by singer/songwriter Aby Wolf, music director of the series, and invited guest musicians.