I am trying to imagine what a conversation might be like between Claudia Rankine and Marilynne Robinson. Two brilliant women, successful writers, deep thinkers. What would they talk about? I guess I could just go find out. So could you: They will be in conversation at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall.

Their appearance is part of an impressive lineup of writers coming to the U this fall.

Another impressive lineup will be at Minnesota State University, Mankato, as part of the continuing and successful Good Thunder Reading Series, now in its 35th year.

At the U

The series begins Sept. 28, when Nami Mun will read at 7 p.m. at the Weisman Art Museum. Mun has received a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Hopwood Award. Her first novel, “Miles From Nowhere,” is about a Korean immigrant named Joon who becomes homeless in the Bronx.

Next up is Simone Muench at 7 p.m. Oct. 5, also at the Weisman. Muench is a poet, the author of five collections, including “The Air Lost in Breathing,” which won the Marianne Moore Prize for Poetry, and “Lampblack & Ash,” winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry.

Rankine and Robinson will be in conversation on Oct. 19. Rankine is the author of “Citizen: An American Lyric,” published by Graywolf Press and the first book to be named a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in two categories (poetry and criticism). (It won in poetry.) Robinson is the author of four novels and has won a Pulitzer Prize, the Orange Prize and two NBCC awards.

The final writer is Mark Slouka, who will read at the Weisman at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9. Slouka writes fiction and nonfiction. His memoir, “Nobody’s Son,” will be published in October; it follows the lives of his parents, who escaped the Nazis and communism in Czechoslovakia.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, follow the U’s English Department at facebook.com/UMNEng.

At Mankato

The Good Thunder Reading Series began last week with novelist Diana Spechler and will continue nearly monthly through April (with a break for deep winter, when hardly anyone wants to go anywhere).

Julie Otsuka, author of “The Buddha in the Attic,” will be on the Mankato campus Oct. 19-20 for the annual Nadine B. Andreas Visiting Writer Residency in partnership with the university’s Common Read Program.

On Nov. 10-11 writers Brian Turner and Dunya Mikhail will be on campus. Turner, a poet and memoirist, won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award for “Here, Bullet,” a collection of poems about the Iraq war. He also wrote the memoir “My Life as a Foreign Country.” Poet Mikhail has published collections in English, Italian and Arabic.

They will speak with Dakota writer Gwen Westerman on the topic of “Making Meaning Out of War.”

Korean poet Jennifer Kwon Dobbs (winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Award) will read on Feb. 2.

Chris Bachelder, author of “The Throwback Special,” will be on campus March 14-17 for a visiting residency.

And poet and playwright Nick Flynn will visit April 6-7. Flynn is the author of “Another B------- Night in Suck City,” and three collections of poetry.

All of these events are free and open to the public. What are you waiting for? Mark your calendar. Reserve your Uber. Go bone up on their work at a local bookstore.


Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks.