TRAVERSE CITY — The National Writers Series today announced its upcoming season roster, one that launches in February with more female writers, more partnerships and more genres, including its first “chick-lit” pick.
Series guests include National Book Award winner George Packer (“The Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq,” “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America”), New York Times Notable Book of the Year author Anchee Min (“Red Azalea,” “Pearl of China,” “The Cooked Seed”), The New York Times bestselling author Daniel James Brown (”Under a Flaming Sky,” “The Boys in the Boat”) and historical fiction novelist Diana Gabaldon (“Outlander” series).
“Probably the biggest coup for the National Writers Series is to get Diana Gabaldon,” said Jill Tewsley, NWS executive director. “She has a massive following. People live and breathe waiting for her to come out with her next book.”
Gabaldon, whose “Outlander” series will premiere this year on Starz TV, is one of five female writers on the upcoming season roster — nearly twice as many as male writers. Other female guests are cancer survivor Kelly Corrigan, author of “The Middle Place” and “Lift” and a YouTube sensation whose “Transcending” video has been seen by more than 5 million viewers; critically acclaimed “master of suspense” Karin Slaughter (“Blindsighted,” “Cop Town”) and Emily Giffin, author of “Something Borrowed,” which was made into a movie starting Kate Hudson and John Krasinski, and “The One and Only.”
“Giffin stands out as a genre we haven’t done before,” Tewsley said. “She’s more of a chick-lit author. She has a huge following of readers.
“Vanity Fair called her the modern-day Jane Austen, so you can’t discredit her as not being smart, literary.”
Tewsley said the increased focus on female writers is in response to audience requests.
“We have had many people ask us to bring more female writers, so we made a concerted effort this time to balance things out a little more to make sure we were getting more women on the list. And the way it turned out, there’s an abundance of female writers,” she said.
Gabaldon will be presented in July in partnership with The National Cherry Festival. Anchee Min, whose memoir of growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution has been compared to “The Diary of Anne Frank,” will be presented in April in collaboration with Northwestern Michigan College’s International Affairs Forum “in celebration” of its June conference on China.
And Steve Luxenberg, author of the Washington Post Best Books of 2009-listed “Annie’s Ghosts,” will be presented in partnership with the Michigan Humanities Council. “Annie’s Ghosts” is the Council’s 2013-14 Great Michigan Read selection.
Local author Mardi Link (“When Evil Came to Good Hart,” “Isadore’s Sccret,” “Bootstrapper”) will make her NWS debut as guest host for Luxenberg. The pair met at a 2010 function after each had a book selected as a Michigan Notable Book.
“I read ‘Annie’s Ghosts’ and was riveted,” Link said. “As journalists we’re always trained not to give our own opinions and not to make ourselves or our families the news. But then he uncovered a mystery in his own family and he turned his journalistic eye on his own family. And I think the way that he does that is so masterful. “
Link interviewed Luxenberg in Lansing for a fall Great Michigan Read program and said she hopes to build on their rapport during the NWS event.
“I think the beauty of the National Writers Series is that the conversation flows so organically. Anything can happen. It’s not scripted,” she said.
For more information on the series, visit www.nationalwritersseries.org.
Feb. 27 Kelly Corrigan
March 17 George Packer
April 8 Steve Luxenberg
April 24 Anchee Min
May 29 Emily Giffin
June 10 Daniel James Brown
June 26 Karin Slaughter
July 7 Diana Gabaldon