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On Books

Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996.

Club Book to bring in Yaa Gyasi, Lily King, Kao Kalia Yang and others

Yaa Gyasi. Photo by Michael Lionstar.

Yaa Gyasi. Photo by Michael Lionstar.

The new season of Club Book will showcase 10 authors over four months, including local writers Lorna Landvik and Kao Kalia Yang and nationally recognized writers Yaa Gyasi, Lily King and Jamie Ford.

All events are free and open to the public, paid for by the state’s Legacy Amendment and curated by the Metropolitan Library Service Agency.

Over the past seven years, Club Book has brought more than 100 authors to libraries across the metro area. Here is the list for winter/spring 2017:

Nnedi Okorafor. 7 p.m. Feb. 22, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Av. N., Roseville. Okorafor is the best-selling author of science fiction and fantasy books, including “Akata Witch” and “The Book of Phoenix.”

Kao Kalia Yang. 7 p.m. Feb. 27, Rum River Library, 4201 6th Av., Anoka. Yang, who lives in St Paul, is the author of two memoirs, “The Latehomecomer,” which won two Minnesota Book Awards, and “The Song Poet,” a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle award.

Chris Pavone. 6:30 p.m. March 6, R.H. Stafford Library, 8595 Central Park Pl, Woodbury. Pavone is the author of mystery and spy thrillers, including “The Expats” and “The Travelers” and has won both an Edgar and an Anthony award.

Richard Zacks. 7 p.m. March 7, Southdale Library, 7001 York Av. S., Edina. Historian Zacks has written about pirates, Captain Kidd, Thomas Jefeferson and others. His new book, “Chasing the Last Laugh,” is about Mark Twain’s around-the-world tour.

Jamie Ford. 7 p.m. March 14, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av., Prior Lake. Ford is the author of “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” and Songs of Willow Frost.”

Pam Jenoff. 7 p.m. March 30, Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley. Jenoff is the author of the historical romance “The Kommandant’s Girl,” which takes place during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Her new book, “The Orphan’s Tale,” will be published in February.

Lily King. 7 p.m. April 4, Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater. King, whose October Club Book appearance was postponed, is the author of “Euphoria,” one of the New York Times’ top ten books of 2014 and winner of the Kirkus Prize for Fiction.

Julie Rivett. 7 p.m. April 20, Stillwater Public Library. The granddaughter of Dashiell Hammett, Rivett has edited five books on Hammett’s work, including  his selected letters and “Return of the Thin Man.” She appears in conjunction with ArtReach St. Croix and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lorna Landvik. 6:30 p.m. April 25, Chanhassen Public Library, 771 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen. Comedian, actress and author Landvik lives in the Twin Cities and is the author of “Patty Jane’s House of Curl,” “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,” and many other novels. Her new novel, “Once in a Blue Moon Lodge,” will be released in April.

Yaa Gyasi. 7 p.m. May 11, Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Av., St. Paul. Gyasi’s novel, “Homegoing,”  won the John Leonard Prize for outstanding first book from the National Book Critics Circle. She is the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” award.

Louise Erdrich, four other Minnesota writers finalists for prestigious national award

Louise Erdrich. Photo by Paul Emmel.

Minnesota writers Louise Erdrich  and Kao Kalia Yang are among the finalists for this year’s National Book Critics Circle Awards, as are Minnesota-reared writers Alice Kaplan, Michael Tisserand and Hope Jahren. "Blackacre," published by Minneapolis’ Graywolf Press, is a finalist in poetry.

The finalists were selected on Saturday at a board meeting in New York City and the winners will be announced in mid-March. The board also named Yaa Gyasi’s novel, “Homegoing,” as winner of the John Leonard Prize, which goes to the best first book. Critic Michelle Dean, who writes for the Guardian, the New Republic and elsewhere, won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, which carries a $1,000 cash award. And Margaret Atwood—novelist, poet, essayist, futurist, and environmental activist—will receive the board’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kao Kalia Yang's memoir, "The Song Poet," was about the life of her father, Bee Yang. Star Tribune photo by Brian Peterson

Here is the full list of finalists, with links to Star Tribune reviews, when available:


Marion Coutts, “The Iceberg.”

Jenny Diski, “In Gratitude.”

Hope Jahren, “Lab Girl.”

Hisham Matar, “The Return.”

Kao Kalia Yang, “The Song Poet.”


Nigel Cliff, “Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story.”

Ruth Franklin, “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.”

Joe Jackson: “Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary.”

Michael Tisserand, “Krazy: George Herriman, a life in Black and White.” (review forthcoming this Sunday)

Frances Wilson: “Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey.”


Carol Anderson, “White Rage.”

Mark Greif, “Against Everything.”

Alice Kaplan, “Looking for the Stranger.”

Olivia Laing, “The Lonely City.”

Peter Orner, “Am I Alone Here?”


Michael Chabon, “Moonglow.”

Louise Erdrich, “LaRose.”

Adam Haslett, “Imagine Me Gone.”

Ann Patchett, “Commonwealth.”

Zadie Smith, “Swing Time.”

General nonfiction

Matthew Desmond, “Evicted.”

Ibram X. Kendi, “Stamped from the Beginning.”

Jane Mayer, “Dark Money.”

Viet Thanh Nguyen, “Nothing Ever Dies.”

John Edgar Wideman, “Writing to Save a Life.”


Ishion Hutchinson, “House of Lords and Commons.”

Tyehimba Jess, “Olio.”

Bernadette Mayer, “Works and Days.”

Robert Pinsky,”At the Foundling Hospital.”

Monica Youn, “Blackacre,” (published by Graywolf Press.)

The awards will be announced on March 16 at the New School in New York City. The NBCC is made up of about 1,000 working critics and book review editors across the country.

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