Two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors -- fiction writer Jennifer Egan and biographer Stacy Schiff -- will appear in the Twin Cities as part of the 2011 season of Talking Volumes. The other visiting writers this fall are Colson Whitehead and Chuck Palahniuk.

The series, a community-wide effort bringing together leading contemporary writers and devoted readers, is a partnership of the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, in collaboration with the Loft Literary Center. Each author is profiled ahead of time in the Star Tribune, and then does a live interview onstage at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul with Kerri Miller of MPR. The live events are video-streamed on the websites of the Star Tribune and MPR, and rebroadcast on MPR stations.

Here's the 12th season at a glance (shows start at 7 p.m.):


Egan's latest novel, "A Visit From the Goon Squad," is a 2011 Pulitzer winner in fiction and a 2010 National Book Critics Circle award winner. "Goon Squad" ranges widely in time, centering on people connected to the rock-music industry -- former band members, record executives, promoters and their friends and lovers. It plays with both time and form, and includes a section laid out in the format of a PowerPoint presentation.

Egan, praised by New York Times for her "extreme virtuosity," also wrote "The Keep," "Look at Me," "The Invisible Circus" and the story collection "Emerald City." Egan frequently contributes to the New York Times magazine and other publications.


Schiff's book on the legendary "Cleopatra" is one of the most praised biographies in recent years. She brings to life the last queen of Egypt, who was a single mother of four and a woman of immense wealth and power.

Schiff won a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for "Véra," about Vladimir Nabokov's wife and lifelong creative partner. She wrote "A Great Improvisation," about Benjamin Franklin, and "Saint Exupéry" (a Pulitzer finalist). She writes for the New Yorker and other publications.


Whitehead brings his intelligence and satirical humor to bear in "Zone One," a new novel, due out in October, that is set in a post-apocalyptic New York -- with zombies.

In an interview about how he decided to dive into the genre of the living dead, Whitehead said he had long admired zombie movies, adding, "It was only a matter of time before I tried my hand at something with monsters and ray guns."

His previous books include "The Intuitionist," "John Henry Days," "Apex Hides the Hurt" and "Sag Harbor." Join the multitudes who follow Whitehead on Twitter: @colsonwhitehead.


Palahniuk, famed for his "Fight Club," has attracted a huge fan base for his distinctive brand of in-your-face satirical novels. His 12th novel, "Damned," comes out in October. In it, an overweight, 13-year-old smart-aleck named Madison dies and lands among a memorably motley crew in Hell. As imagined by Palahniuk, Hell is a place with "surging oceans of scalding-hot barf" where "The English Patient" and "The Piano" are the only movies ever screened.

Palahniuk's previous books include "Choke," "Pygmy" and "Tell-All." His fan base includes 346,000 Twitter followers (@chuckpalahniuk) and a website appropriately called The Cult, at

On Twitter, follow Talking Volumes news and updates with the hashtag #talkingvolumes. Get stories and updates about the series at

This season follows a high-profile 2010 lineup that brought Jonathan Franzen, Nora Ephron, Anita Shreve and Nicole Krauss to the Twin Cities.

Season tickets only are on sale Aug. 9-16, for $80. After that, tickets for individual shows may be purchased at $25 each, with $2 off for members of MPR, the Loft and the Star Tribune's Talking Volumes Club. Call the Fitzgerald box office at 651-290-1200.