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4:00pm | Azar Nafisi

By |2021-03-23T11:33:35-04:00February 12th, 2020|

Azar Nafisi is the critically acclaimed author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, a long-standing number one New York Times bestseller published in thirty-two languages. The title is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny.  The book won numerous awards including one of the “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The Times (London). (more…)

2:30pm | Luis J. Rodriguez | Chelsea Depot

By |2020-02-11T17:20:42-05:00February 11th, 2020|

125 Jackson St, Chelsea, MI 48118

Luis J. Rodriguez is an award-winning poet, children’s book author, memoirist, youth & arts advocate, community activist, and 2014 Los Angeles Poet Laureate. He was born in El Paso, Texas, the son of Mexican Immigrants. He faced racism, poverty, and discrimination throughout his adolescent life that would lead first to involvement with gangs and drug abuse, and later inspire his writing and social activism. Rodriguez has authored 15 books in various genres, including collections of poetry such as My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems 1989-2004 and Borrowed Bones: New Poems from the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. He has won a Poetry Center Book Award, Paterson Poetry Prize, and PEN/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and was honored with a Lannan Fellowship for Poetry. In addition to his other accolades, Rodriguez is a National Book Critics Award nominee, and the recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, Lila Wallace- Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a California Arts Council fellowship, and several Illinois Arts Council fellowships. He was one of 50 leaders worldwide awarded the title “Unsung Heroes of Compassion,” presented by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. In an interview in Rolling Stone, Bruce Springsteen praised Rodriguez as one of those “people who give me optimism. They’re relentlessly hopeful, and they face it all on the front lines on a daily basis.”

Rodriguez has also been honored for his work as a journalist with the Dorothea Lang-Paul Taylor Prize in Journalism, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian (UK), Grand Street, American Poetry Review, Fox News Latino, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He is also a script consultant for the FX series, Snowfall.

Rodriguez helped found a number of organizations—such as Chicago’s Guild Complex, Rock a Mole Productions, Youth Struggling for Survival, Tia Chucha Press, and Tia Chucha’s Café and Centro Cultural—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. He is (also) on the steering committees of the Poor People(‘)s Campaign and the US Justice Party.

Rodriguez’s national bestselling memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. is a New York Times notable book and recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. The memoir explores gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that haunts its participants. Jonathan Kozol called Always Running “an absolutely unique work: richly literary and poetic, yet urgent and politically explosive at the same time… A permanent testament to human courage and transcendence.” The New York Times Book Review journalist Gary Soto praised the memoir as “vivid, raw… fierce, and fearless… Here’s truth no television set, burning night and day, could ever begin to offer.”

Luis J. Rodriguez’s visit is made possible through the generous support of the Chelsea Community Foundation and the Friends of CDL.

1:00pm | Laurie Halse Anderson

By |2021-03-23T11:32:52-04:00February 11th, 2020|

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans children, teens, and adults. Combined, her books have sold more than 8 million copies. Her new book, SHOUT, a memoir-in-verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesto for the #MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and was Anderson’s’s eighth New York Times bestselling book. (more…)

1:00pm | Min Jin Lee | Main Street Church

By |2019-03-14T19:19:24-04:00January 23rd, 2019|

320 N Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118

2019 Midwest Literary Walk author Min Jin Lee is a National Book Award Finalist, recipient of Fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard, and a New York Times bestselling author. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to Queens, New York as a child in 1976.  Lee graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and was inducted into the Bronx Science Hall of Fame. While studying at Yale College, she majored in History and was awarded the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction. She attended law school at Georgetown University and worked as a lawyer for several years in New York prior to writing full time. Lee wrote her New York Times bestselling novel Pachinko while living in Tokyo, where she resided  from 2007 to 2011. She is currently based in Boston, where she will be working on her third novel, American Hagwon. From 2019-2022, she will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College.

Among her other accolades, Lee was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College. In 2018 Lee was named an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation,” and a Frederick Douglass 200 for her work as an author.

Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. A New York Times bestseller, Pachinko was also one of the Top 10 Books of the Year in 2017 selected by BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Public Library. Pachinko was one of the selections for “Now Read This,” a book club organized  by PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. The novel was listed on over 75 best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN. An international success, Pachinko will be translated into 27 languages.

Pachinko tells the story of a young Korean woman who emigrated to Japan, where she and her family struggle through war and hard times all while experiencing life’s joys, friendships, and heartbreaks. Library Journal dubbed the novel a “gripping multigenerational story with plenty of surprising turns,” and praises Lee for her “skillful development of her characters and story lines [that] draw readers into a delicate and accurate portrait of Korean life in Japan in the mid-to-late 20th century.” Pachinko earned a Kirkus Star, with reviewers toting the novel as an “epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth.” NPR lauded the novel for its “honest writing, fiction that looks squarely at what is, both terrible and wonderful and occasionally as bracing as a jar of Sunja’s best kimchi.”

4:00pm | Anissa Gray | Chelsea First Congregational Church

By |2019-03-15T11:49:12-04:00January 23rd, 2019|

121 E. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118

Anissa Gray is an Emmy and duPont-Columbia award-winning journalist and a debut novelist. She grew up in a small western Michigan town, graduated from Western Michigan University, and earned a Masters in English from New York University. Gray began her career as a reporter at Reuters in Manhattan, and then worked for CNN as a broadcast journalist. She is currently a Senior Editor for CNN Worldwide in Atlanta, GA, where she lives with her wife. Her first novel, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, debuted in 2019 to wide critical acclaim, and was a 2019 LibraryReads pick for spring and an Indie Next pick.

Gray’s novel The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, is a gripping family saga told through the alternating voices of three sisters struggling with familial loyalty and love during a criminal trial that will decide the fate of the oldest sister, Althea, a formerly well-respected community member who is unexpectedly incarcerated along with her husband. Entertainment Weekly, the Washington Post, and Vogue think readers who are fans of Tamayri Jones or Celeste Ng will enjoy the new voice of Annisa Gray.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was a Barnes and Noble Discover selection, praised by the Washington Post as “an absorbing commentary on love, family, and forgiveness,” and by Bustle as a “stark, emotional story you don’t want to miss.” Delia Owens, the author of Where the Crawdad’s Sing, describes the novel as “a powerfully written story story that guides us through a deep darkness toward a faint whisper of light seeping from beneath a closet door. A light that shows how love and forgiveness can come from unexpected places and triumph over more than we ever imagine.”

Additional praise for The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls:

“A sharp family saga …. [the author’s] very personal connection coupled with Gray’s ability to translate hard emotion into straightforward prose make for a gripping read.”—Vanity Fair

“Gray manages a large cast of characters with ease … A deep dive into the shifting alliances and betrayals among siblings.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A] moving debut…This is perfect for fans of Brit Bennett’s The Mothers; readers will be deeply affected by this story of a family wrestling to support itself.”—Publishers Weekly

2:30pm | Ross Gay

By |2021-03-23T11:33:15-04:00January 23rd, 2019|

Ross Gay is a 2015 National Book Award finalist and author of three books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His most recent work, The Book of Delights, was named one of the Best Books of 2019 by the Washington Independent Review of Books and Shelf Awareness, as well as one of the best reviewed books of 2019 by Lit Hub. This book of lyric essays was written over one tumultuous year, and celebrates the beauty of the natural world and the small joys of life, without dismissing the harsher complexities and realities of living in America as an African American man. (more…)

4:00pm | Michael Eric Dyson | Main Street Church

By |2019-03-14T15:53:45-04:00March 16th, 2018|

320 N Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118

Michael Eric Dyson is an acclaimed author of nearly 20 books, including his latest work, the New York Times bestseller, Tears We Cannot Stop, a non-fiction work that examines racial divide and calls for change. He is the recipient of two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Non-Fiction, and winner of the American Book Award for his work Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Dyson has also written for the New York Times and is a contributing editor for the New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated website. In addition to his work as an author, Dyson is a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and a former radio show host of the Michael Eric Dyson Show.

Dyson received his PhD from Princeton University and has taught at taught at Brown, Columbia, the University of North Carolina, DePaul University and the University of Pennsylvania. Dyson has been lauded for his hard-hitting books and other advocacy for African Americans. Essence declared him one of 40 most inspiring African Americans, and he was named among the 100 most influential black Americans by the website Ebony.

Praise for Tears We Cannot Stop

“Elegantly written and powerful in several areas: moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish.” Toni Morrison

“Here’s a sermon that’s as fierce as it is lucid…If you’re black, you’ll feel a spark of recognition in every paragraph. If you’re white, Dyson tells you what you need to know―what this white man needed to know, at least. This is a major achievement. I read it and said amen.” Stephen King

“This work is both lucid in its logic and profound in its probing and wide-ranging cultural and social analysis. Dyson’s homily resonates amid personal recollection and reflection as a call to action for Americans to reach a positive future by working to cultivate empathy, develop racial literacy, and live up to the demands of justice.” Library Journal

“One of the most frank and searing discussions of race I have ever read.” Patrick Phillips,  New York Times Book Review

2:30pm | Ada Limón | Chelsea Depot

By |2018-03-27T11:05:57-04:00March 16th, 2018|

125 Jackson St, Chelsea, MI 48118

Ada Limón is an acclaimed poet, author of four books of poetry, 2015 National Book Award finalist, and winner of the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. Originally from Sonoma California, Limon holds an M.F.A from the Creative Writing Program at New York University, and serves on the faculty of the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A Program and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

Limón’s most recent book of poetry, Bright Dead Things, was one of the New York Times Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year, as well as a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. Limón’s other works include Lucky Wreck, winner of the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize; This Big Fake World, winner of the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize, and Sharks in the Rivers.

Poet Richard Blanco praises Limón’s work as “both soft and tender, enormous and resounding, …[with] poetic gestures [that] entrance and transfix.” Author Matthew Zapruder writes “Limón does far more than merely reflect the world: she continually transforms it, thereby revealing herself as an everyday symbolist and high level duende enabler.”

Praise for Bright Dead Things

“Limón’s calling card is her relaxed, winningly unpretentious voice (“Every time I’m in an airport / I think I should drastically / change my life…”). Her strongest work (the poem that gives this book its title, for example) is a study in casual intensity” —The New York Times

“Generous of heart, intricate and accessible, the poems in this book are wondrous and deeply moving.” —Library Journal

“Limón…goes into deep introspection mode in a fourth collection in which her speakers struggle with loss and alienation. As her poems move across varied geographies (New York, Kentucky, California), Limón narrates experiences in bewildering landscapes that should otherwise feel familiar. Perhaps feelings of alienation result from intersections of identity; perhaps they are the cost of memory, a theme woven through each of the collection’s four sections…Recurring instances of anxiety about mortality in Limón’s poems complicate experiences so richly written and felt.” —Publisher’s Weekly

1:00pm | Will Schwalbe | Chelsea First Congregational Church

By |2018-04-17T11:10:12-04:00March 16th, 2018|

121 E. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118

Writer and journalist Will Schwalbe is the author of The End of Your Life Book Club, which spent twelve weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, was an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year, one of Amazon’s top four best books for the year, an Indie Choice Honor Award book, and winner of the Books for a Better Life Award for Best Inspirational Memoir. His latest work, Books for Living, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle Awards, and illustrates the ways in which books affect us, honor our loved ones, and add meaning and fullness to our lives.

Schwalbe has an impressive career surrounded by the written word. He has worked in publishing (he’s now EVP, Editorial Development and Content Innovation for Macmillan); digital media, as the founder and CEO of Cookstr.com; and journalism, writing for various publications, including the New York Times and the South China Morning Post. Schwalbe is a self-proclaimed New Englander, and a life-long book lover, with early memories of the books his parents would read aloud. He currently lives in New York with his partner David Cheng.

Praise for Books for Living:

“Schwalbe’s tremendous experience with reading and his stellar taste make for a fine guide to the varied and idiosyncratic list of books for which he advocates. By the end of the book, all serious readers will have added some titles to their to-read lists.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“In this warmly engaging, enlightening, and stirring memoir-in-books and literary celebration, Schwalbe reminds us that reading “isn’t just a strike against narrowness, mind control, and domination; it’s one of the world’s greatest joys.” —Booklist

Praise for The End of Your Life Book Club:

“With a refreshing forthrightness, and an excellent list of books included, this is an astonishing, pertinent, and wonderfully welcome work.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“A wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them. Like the printed volumes it celebrates, this story will stay with you long after the last page.”
—Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Time Keeper

1:00pm | Peter Ho Davies | First Congregational Church

By |2017-03-10T13:10:04-05:00February 13th, 2017|

121 E. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118

Peter Ho Davies most recent novel, The Fortune, tells the story of four lives—a railroad baron’s valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes Asian Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption. Through these characters,Davies explores the threads of what it means to be both Chinese and American. The son of a Welsh father and Chinese mother, Davies was raised in England and spent his summers in Wales, which certainly influenced his debut novel, The Welsh Girl, in 2007.  Davies now makes his home in Ann Arbor, MI, where he is on the faculty of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a winner of the PEN/Malamud Award. In addition to the The Welsh Girl, Davies has written two award-winning story collections.

“Intense and dreamlike . . . filled with quiet resonances across time . . . The Fortunes is powerful as a chronicle of perpetual frustration, as each new generation grows aware of the arbitrary line between margin and mainstream . . . What makes The Fortunes so hopeful, the type of novel that could have only been written now, is its willingness to take liberties with that past—to rearrange its details and indulge in speculation, in order to help us imagine a different way forward.” —The New Yorker


Sly, funny, intelligent, and artfully structured, The Fortunes recasts American history through the lives of four Chinese Americans and reimagines the multigenerational novel through the fractures of immigrant family experience.

Ah Ling, the son of a prostitute and a ghost a white man– is sent from his homeland to make his way alone in California. From humble laundry worker, he will rise to valet for a powerful railroad baron and unwittingly ignite an explosion in Chinese labor.

Anna May Wong, the first Chinese film star in Hollywood, is forbidden to kiss a white man on screen. Shut out of leading roles, cast only as Dragon Lady or Butterfly, she must find her place between two worlds and two cultures.

Vincent Chin, aspiring all-American, is killed by a pair of Detroit auto workers simply for looking Japanese. He will become the symbol for a community roused to action in the face of hatred.

John Ling Smith, though half-Chinese, doesn t speak the language. When he visits China for the first time to adopt a baby girl, he sees the long history of both cultures coming together in the spark of a new century.

Building fact into fiction, spinning fiction around fact, The Fortunes is sly, funny, intelligent, and artfully structured. It proves, once again, that, in the words of Elizabeth McCracken: “He can do anything, and he does. In this wonder of a novel, Peter Ho Davies offers not just marvelous storytelling, not just prose that sings and humor that bites, but also a rallying, hopeful vision of what it might mean to be American.”

Praise for The Fortunes:

“Davies, a master storyteller, blends fact with fiction in this saga of immigration, acclimation, and Chinese culture, which he tells through the experiences of Chinese-Americans at different points in history.” –Entertainment Weekly, “12 must-read novels out this fall”

“Davies writes with a rare emotional resonance and a deft sense of structure; it’s hard not to be in awe of the way he’s composed this complex, beautiful novel. The Fortunes is a stunning look at what it means to be Chinese, what it means to be American, and what it means to be a person navigating the strands of identity, the things that made us who we are, whoever that is.”—NPR

“The book’s scope is impressive, but what’s even more staggering is the utter intimacy and honesty of each character’s introspection. More extraordinary still is the depth and the texture created by the juxtaposition of different eras, making for a story not just of any one person but of hundreds of years and tens of millions of people. Davies (The Welsh Girl) has created a brilliant, absorbing masterpiece.” –Publishers Weekly starred review

“The Fortunes masterfully captures a century of history and the survival of an immigrant community caught between two cultures.”—Buzzfeed, “21 Incredible New Books You Need To Read This Fall”


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