Feel like stretching yourself? Are you a fiction gal or a nonfiction guy? Are you drawn to fast-paced thrillers or literary fiction?

Well, the National Writers Series has an author for you—four, in fact, over the next four weeks. NWS usually hosts only one or two authors each month, but October is by far the break-out month for publishers, and NWS goes a bit overboard, too.

Here’s a rundown:

  • Sunday, October 6: Aarti Shahani will talk about her memoir, Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares. Shahani intimately shares her family’s immigration journey from India (via Casablanca) to New York City and beyond. Aarti is a whiz kid awarded scholarships to elite schools and now works as an NPR correspondent—the “dream” side of the story. Her father, also smart and hard-working, struggles to find a job and eventually opens his own shop with his brother. They unknowingly sell watches and calculators to a dangerous drug cartel and are convicted—the “nightmare” side of Shahani’s tale. A revealing look at justice and social standing. Guest host is radio host Jerome Vaughn of WDET in Detroit.
  • Wednesday, October 9: The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Largest Treasure Hunt. Traverse City’s own Marty Lagina created and stars in this popular History Channel show with his brother, Rick. Marty will take the stage with author Randall Sullivan and guest host Pat Livingston, TV 7&4’s news director (but don’t expect any spoilers). Beyond Sullivan’s tales of treasure hunters losing their minds and even their lives, he includes fascinating nuggets in the book. FDR, for example, planned a visit in 1938 before the “imminent war in Europe” made it impossible.
  • Wednesday, October 16: The Library Book has a clever cover. Hard and shiny, no dust jacket and a stamped-on title—just like you used to find on library shelves, according to my retired librarian friend Susa Labelle.

The understated cover fits nicely with the understated title. But the writing! It’s as punchy and intriguing as the red cover is plain. New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean weaves in the history of libraries with the massive fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986. Here’s how she describes suspected arsonist Harry Peak:

“He was a storyteller, a yarn-spinner and an agile liar; he was good at fancying up facts to make his life seem less plain and mingy. According to his sister, he was the biggest bullshitter in the world, so quick to fib and fabricate that even his own family didn’t believe a word he said.”

Orlean will take the stage with Anne Strainchamps, a host and co-creator of To the Best of Our Knowledge radio program.

Strainchamps will also appear at a free Oct. 15 reception, hosted by NWS and IPR, at the Crooked Tree Art Center at 7 pm. She will talk about her upcoming podcast, Bookmarks—a collection of authors describing their most beloved book.

October 27: Thriller fans will be thrilled to hear #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille is coming to town. For his latest book, The Deserter, he teamed up with his screenwriting son, Alex. First likely question from guest host Doug Stanton: Weren’t you worried about writing a book with your son? But Nelson knew what he was doing. Here’s a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

“Outstanding…In typical DeMille fashion, the last hundred pages move along like a ballistic missile, exploding in a satisfying finale on a remote airstrip. DeMille and son provide it all in this rumble through the jungle – authentic detail, lively dialogue, a vividly drawn setting, and an exhilarating plot.”

See you downtown!

Anne Stanton is executive director of the National Writers Series. For details on the season’s full line-up, go to www.nationalwritersseries.org. Proceeds benefit NWS’s Raising Writers youth programs.

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