Jodi Picoult, Margaret Atwood Headline National Writers Series’ Fall Lineup

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The National Writers Series (NWS) has unveiled their lineup for the upcoming fall season, including Jodi Picoult, Ann Patchett, Kyle Mills, Paola Gianturco, David Maraniss, Daniel Bergner, and legendary author Margaret Atwood, who will celebrate the NWS’ 100th event.

New this year is NWS Community Reads featuring Daniel Bergner, author of Sing for Your Life, which chronicles the life of Ryan Speedo Green, an African American who grew up in Suffolk, one of Virginia’s most crime-ridden cities. Green went from spending time in a detention center to starring in a production at the Metropolitan Opera this year.

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Visiting authors often visit area classrooms to talk about their writing life and books during the school year, which embraces NWS’ mission of cultivating future writers. In 2012, they founded the Front Street Writers program, a year-long creative writing course offered in collaboration with the local public school district. A portion of event profits go toward funding Front Street Writers, along with a college scholarship fund. Three scholarships are awarded annually.

The National Writers Series also hosts an annual Battle of the Books in March – a quiz bowl for fourth and fifth graders.

The fall season features three venues, including Milliken Auditorium, Lars Hockstad Auditorium and City Opera House. Each Opera House event features a pre-reception with live music and a cash bar, and is followed by a book signing with the author.

Tickets went on sale to Friends of NWS on August 8, and will be available to the public on August 15. Season subscribers receive a 20 percent discount. Learn more about season subscriptions at the NWS website.

How to Buy Tickets: 
  • Online: City Opera House Box Office
  • By phone: (231) 941-8082
  • Visit the City Opera House Box Office at 106 East Front Street in downtown Traverse City. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Saturday and Sunday; open the day of the event one hour prior to showtime.

Join the Friends of NWS here and purchase your tickets ahead of the general public. A few more details about the upcoming lineup:

September 17, 7 p.m., Milliken Auditorium: An Evening in Conversation with Paola Gianturco

NWS, National Writers Series, Grandmother Power, Paola Gianturco
Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon by Paola Gianturco | Amazon Photo

After hosting more than 95 nationally recognized and critically acclaimed authors, the NWS kicks off the fall/winter 2017 season with a bang. Legendary photojournalist Paola Gianturco‘s newest book, Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon, profiles grandmas around the world who’ve stood up for the environment, human rights, education and native culture.


The event includes a reception and photo exhibition at 6 p.m. for ticket holders and Museum members, followed by an onstage conversation at 7 p.m.

October 7, 7 p.m., City Opera House: An Evening in Conversation with David Maraniss, with Guest Host John Bacon

once in a great city, detroit, nws, national writers series, david maraniss
Once In a Great City: A Detroit Story by David Maraniss | Amazon Photo

David Maraniss once said he was on a mission when he wrote about Detroit in its heyday. Specifically, “To show what Detroit gave America.” In this affectionate and often surprising portrait of Detroit in 1963, Once In a Great City: A Detroit Story introduces readers to the giants of a city at its zenith.


The Motor City boasted Motown singers and automakers, civil rights activists and politicians, gangsters and police. Before corruption and stagnation, before race riots and white flight, Detroit was a city of huge promise. Henry Ford II had just built the Mustang, Berry Gordy Jr.’s Motown was changing the sound of America, and Detroit’s civil rights and labor movements had scored unprecedented victories for equality.

Once In a Great City: A Detroit Story is a mesmerizing telling of this era: of race and labor; of music and politics; of the forces that built an American city. Maraniss also foreshadows the flaws that would bring the city down, and the dark echoes that would resonate after its fall.

Born in Detroit, David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, winner of numerous journalism awards, and author of six critically acclaimed books, including Barack Obama: The Story and They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967, winner of the 2004 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. Maraniss holds an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and Washington, DC with his wife, Linda.

Bestselling author John Bacon of Endzone fame will guest host.

October 20, 7 p.m., City Opera House: An Evening in Conversation with Margaret Atwood

hag-seed, margaret atwood, nws, national writers series
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood | Amazon Photo

As bestselling author of such world-famous novels as The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye and The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood has written more than 50 works. She is a literary legend, known for her feminism and searing commentary on the world.

Her awards include the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Man Booker Prize, and the L.A. Times Innovator’s Award. She also holds more than 20 honorary degrees, and her books have been published in more than 20 languages.

Click to Buy: HAG-SEED

Hag-Seed is Atwood’s retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the fourth novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare series. This tale of a theater director forced out of the administration of an art festival (much as Prospero found himself exiled from Milan) is a mélange of Shakespeare’s wit and Atwood’s deadpan humor.

October 22, 7 p.m., Lars Hockstad Auditorium: An Evening in Conversation with Ann Patchett

Commonwealth, ann patchett, nws, national writers series
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett | Amazon Photo

National Writers Series fans have long requested New York Times bestseller Ann Patchett, and thankfully, she’s making Traverse City part of her tour. Ann is the author of seven novels, including Bel Canto and her newest, Commonwealth.

She’s also written three books of nonfiction, including Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy; What Now?, an expansion of her Sarah Lawrence College graduation address; and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays about commitment.


A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Patchett attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (National Writers Series co-founder Doug Stanton was a classmate). She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times bestseller list. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages.

In November, 2011, Patchett opened Parnassus Books in Nashville and has since championed independent bookstores on national television. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

October 23, 7 p.m., City Opera House: An Evening in Conversation with Jodi Picoult

small great things, jodi picoult, nws, national writers series
small great things by Jodi Picoult | Amazon Photo

Literary sensation Jodi Picoult has written 23 novels; nine are #1 New York Times bestsellers and five have been adapted into major motion pictures.

Picoult’s newest book, small great things, addresses racism on multiple levels. In a recent interview with People, she noted, “Racism is both systemic and institutional, but it’s perpetuated and dismantled in individual acts.”


She adds of writing the book, “I really had to explore my own beliefs and my own biases and learn a lot about myself and privileges that I’ve had that I’d never noticed before. It’s been a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, and I didn’t know the right way to tell it. And when I finally felt like I cracked that, it was the right time.”

Small great things asks when we can talk about race, when we should, and what happens when we don’t.

November 4, 7 p.m., City Opera House: An Evening in Conversation with Kyle Mills

order to kill, mitch rapp, kyle mills, national writers series, nws, books
Order to Kill, a Mitch Rapp novel by Kyle Mills

The Survivor, published October 6, 2015, is the 15th Mitch Rapp novel, and the first NOT written by series creator Vince Flynn. Sadly, Flynn lost his long battle with prostate cancer in June 2013, but there could be no better author to take up his torch than Kyle Mills.


This is not just because Mills is a master of the thriller genre, but also because his own life shares a link with that of Flynn’s protagonist. Mitch Rapp was inspired to join the CIA when his fiancé was killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 – the same bombing which, in reality, Kyle Mills’ father investigated for the FBI.

“My goal with The Survivor was to stick very closely to Vince’s style and to try to capture Mitch exactly as he did,” Mills wrote shortly after it was announced that he would continue Flynn’s work.

It’s clear that Mills has done so successfully, penning a thrilling Mitch Rapp novel in which the hard-hitting hero returns, as quick-witted and ruthless as his fans remember him. His mission this time: to plug the intel leak left by a rogue CIA operative, and to do so before Pakistani secret forces can get hold of the compromising data.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Kyle Mills has written 17 books, including three installments in Robert Ludlum’s Covert-One series, as well as his own Mark Beamon series of political thrillers. Mills and his wife live in Wyoming.

(David Brown of Simon & Schuster emailed to let me know that the book featured at the National Writers Series will be the follow up to “The Survivor.” “Order to Kill” will be released on Oct. 11, 2016. – jb)

December 5, 7 p.m., City Opera House: An Evening in Conversation with Daniel Bergner (NWS Community Reads Event)

sing for your life, daniel bergner, nws, national writers series
Sing For Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family by Daniel Bergner | Amazon Photo

In Sing For Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family, to be published September 13, 2016, Daniel Bergner takes the reader along Ryan Speedo Green’s journey from solitary confinement to center stage. The seed for the book was Bergner’s 2011 New York Times profile piece on Green, in which the author quotes the bass-baritone: “The desire to better myself, to be above what was around me, what better art form to do that in than opera?”


Sing For Your Life is the story of Ryan Speedo Green, but it’s also a story about race and inequality in America’s least privileged communities, about the challenges of bringing diversity to a homogenized field, and about the priceless opportunity to rise above one’s circumstances through art.

Daniel Bergner is the author of a novel and five books of nonfiction, including In the Land of Magic Soldiers (Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year) and God of the Rodeo (New York Times Notable Book of the Year).

Bergner is also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. His pieces have appeared in several other publications, including The Atlantic, Mother Jones, and the New York Times Book Review. He has an MFA from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and two children.


The National Writers Series was founded by New York Times bestselling author Doug Stanton, Traverse City attorney Grant Parsons and award-winning journalist, editor, and former reporter and NWS Executive Director Anne Stanton.

Net proceeds from NWS events support its Raising Writers programs, including the Front Street Writers Program, a one-of-a-kind creative writing workshop for high school students run in partnership with the Career Tech Center, Battle of the Books, creative writing workshops for youth, and college scholarships.

The National Writers Series is made possible by many sponsors, including sustaining sponsor FIM Group and event sponsors Cherry Capital Airport and Grand Traverse Resort. Additional sponsors include Horizon Books, Amical, Morsels, Copy Queenz, and the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation.

For more information on the National Writers Series, visit their website, email Executive Director Anne Stanton, [email protected], or call the National Writers Series at (231) 631-1551.



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