About 150,000 people attend Printers Row Lit Fest each year to wander the book fair lining Dearborn Street and to listen to authors speak about their work. For a handful of the 200 or so authors who will appear this year, the event will be a homecoming. For our roundup this week, we've chosen Lit Fest authors with Chicago roots — roots that run deep in the books listed here.
This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.
The Cooked Seed by Anchee Min
Nearly 20 years after the publication of her debut memoir, "Red Azalea," Anchee Min picks up the story of her life in 1984. It opens with a gripping account of her ultimately successful attempt to leave China — where she had been branded "Madame Mao's trash" — with the help of an acceptance letter from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Min, nearly deported on the first day for lying about her English skills, is the author of six novels.
After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey
Michael Hainey's father, who worked as a Chicago newspaperman, died at age 35 of a heart attack. Hainey was 6 years old. "After Visiting Friends" recounts Hainey's attempt to uncover the details of his father's death and to understand how this tragic event continued to influence his life. Hainey writes of his hometown: "Chicago. I am of that place. Spires loom. The sky, a soiled shroud. Even as a kid, I knew it was my Old Country."
Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir by Greg Bellow
At a certain point, celebrity subsumes the individual. Hence Greg Bellow's attempt to restore Saul Bellow's legacy as a flesh-and-blood man, a father who happened to be a Nobel Prize winner. Greg Bellow dives into family history, offering an inside view of the family of one of Chicago's literary icons, from his parents' first date on Lake Michigan to more challenging times as Saul Bellow ages.
The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja
Thomas Dyja, who grew up near Riis Park, offers a nuanced history of Chicago that weaves together the narratives of a panoply of cultural icons, from Gwendolyn Brooks to Hugh Hefner. Dyja convincingly argues that the city was instrumental in shaping America — for better and worse. In his Printers Row review, Bill Savage called it "an essential for any lover of Chicago and American history."
Esther Stories by Peter Orner
Peter Orner's new collection of short stories is due out in August, but in the meantime, the Highland Park native's "Esther Stories" has been reissued. "These engrossing stories are too pure and subtle to be called a proof and demonstration of the power of literary realism," Marilynne Robinson writes in a foreword. "Such a statement would have to be translated into suppler language ... to sound as true as it is in fact."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun