TRAVERSE CITY — Drew Philp will make his debut visit to Traverse City for season one of the 2018 National Writers Series. Philp will discuss his first book “A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City” in April.
Published in April 2017, the nonfiction account follows Philp’s work to rebuild an abandoned house in Detroit. Philp purchased the structure for $500 in 2009 and moved in the next year, soon after graduating from the University of Michigan.
Philp, who operated under the philosophy that “anything can be fixed,” searched for materials to make the house livable. It needed nearly everything — from windows and flooring to electricity and heat.
“I still live there,” he said. “It was a ton of work and still is.”
Many recent college graduates were leaving the state during the economic recession in 2008, but Philp moved to Detroit from his hometown of Adrian. He said he wanted to give back to the community that gave him so much, like his education.
“It’s the heartbeat of the state and, in many ways, the nation,” Philp said. “Detroit is America with the volume turned all the way up.”
National issues with race and class are also represented in southern Michigan, Philp said. He addresses these topics, as well as potential solutions, in his book.
“We have a unique opportunity to rebuild and think about what we want to be as a society, as a people,” he said. “We should look to innovations for guidance to plan the future.”
National Writers Series Executive Director Anne Stanton said they chose Philp because of his books’ potential appeal to younger readers, who might be looking to move to Detroit.
Additionally, Stanton said she is excited to give Philp a platform to talk about the city he loves.
“I thought his book was really fascinating,” Stanton said. “He was the only white guy in his neighborhood. He had a lot of challenges. But he gained respect from his neighbors.”
The season begins with Peter Heller discussing his novel “Celine” on Feb. 2. The lineup also includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, an award-winning poet and a comedic blog writer.
All events start with a cocktail hour and music at 6 p.m. A guest host and the author will take the stage at 7 p.m. at City Opera House. A book signing follows the question-and-answer session.
Tickets are available to the public Jan. 15 at the venue box office, 231-941-8082, or online.
National Writers Series 2018 season lineup
- Feb. 2 — Peter Heller, “Celine”
- March 9 — Nikki Giovanni, “A Good Cry”
- March 25 — Anna Quindlen, “Alternate Side”
- April 11 — Drew Philp, “A $500 House in Detroit”
- April 25 — Eileen McNamara, “Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World”
- May 11 — Samantha Irby, “Meaty”
- May 17 — David Grann, “Killers of the Flowers Moon”
- May 22 — Anita Shreve, “The Stars are Fire”
- June 8 — Richard Russo, “The Destiny Thief”
- July 13 — Adriana Trigiani, “Kiss Carlo”