The 2014 Talking Volumes lineup includes literary heavy hitters in a rich variety of topic areas, from the history of God to the role of literature in a democracy.
In the exploding world of Young Adult fiction, two of the biggest names are Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, and they are teaming up on a new fantasy series that was optioned for a movie even before the first book was released. They will appear together to talk about “The Iron Trial,” (Oct. 1), in which 12-year-old Callum Hunt comes of age in a world where child apprentices enter warrior training and dark magicians seek to defeat the call of death. Clare is best known for her urban-fantasy “Mortal Instruments” series, which she launched in 2007 with “City of Bones.” Black is revered by fans for her “Spiderwick Chronicles” series.
Azar Nafisi (Nov. 5), born in Iran, has become one of the world’s leading voices on the political implications of literature and culture. Her memoir, “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” published 10 years ago, became a critically acclaimed bestseller. It depicted life in Iran as the Islamic revolution swept the country, threatening intellectual and artistic freedoms. Her new book, “The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books,” looks at literature as a cohesive force in the United States. She teaches at Johns Hopkins University and lives in Washington, D.C.
Karen Armstrong’s new book, “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence,” demonstrates the wide range and fearlessness of the popular author whose best-known books are titled “A History of God” and “The Case for God.” Armstrong was born in England and became a nun before leaving her order and turning to writing. She has since written two dozen books on religion, including books on Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. She speaks frequently on television and in person about the role and history of world religions, and she won a TED Prize in 2008. She will talk about her new book, which surveys the relationship of various faiths to wars in both historic and contemporary times (Nov. 11).
Richard Ford (Dec. 1), a dean of American fiction writers, is known both for his novels (“Independence Day,” “The Lay of the Land”) and short stories (“Rock Springs,” “A Multitude of Sins”). The Pulitzer Prize-winner will read from and talk about his new book, “Let Me Be Frank With You,” four interconnected novellas narrated by Ford’s recurring protagonist, Frank Bascombe, who first appeared in his novels “The Sportswriter” and “Independence Day.” The widely traveled writer has lived in various parts of the United States and has worked as an editor, a sportswriter and a college professor.
Talking Volumes is produced by Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, in collaboration with The Loft Literary Center. Programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul. Season tickets go on sale July 22nd, and are discounted for members of MPR and The Loft and for Star Tribune subscribers. Single tickets are $25. The live events, with interviewer Kerri Miller, are taped and rebroadcast statewide on MPR.