Presenting Author Information

Twin Cities Book Festival, Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Saturday, October 13, 2018: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

youth programming | full schedule | return to main festival page

Rain Taxi is pleased to welcome the following authors from around the country and the globe to this year’s Twin Cities Book Festival stages. Book sales provided by Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

★ starred events will be ASL interpreted!


Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 2:30pm
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If you’ve been asking yourself some hard questions about where we are as a nation and how we got here, bestselling author Steve Almond wants to talk to you. At this Book Festival event he’ll offer a personal look at his latest nonfiction volley, Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country (Red Hen Press), which he says he wrote “to keep from going crazy.” Almond will appear in conversation with Stephanie Curtis, senior producer of MPR’s The Thread.

“I was enlightened and spellbound by Bad Stories, outraged and consoled”
–Cheryl Strayed

Author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, including the bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football, Steve Almond also hosts the “Dear Sugars” podcast with Wild’s Cheryl Strayed. His short stories have been published in many anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and Best American Mysteries series. He lives in Cambridge, MA where he teaches nonfiction writing.


Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 3:30pm
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Is there anything Dessa can’t do? Defying all expectations and disregarding boundaries of genre, this literary writer and internationally acclaimed recording artist not only dives into philosophy and behavioral science, but into matters of the heart as well. In My Own Devices (Dutton), Dessa explores life on the road while taking the reader on a journey of their own through the wandering mind. Surprises may be in store as Dessa invites the Festival audience on her journey.

“Dessa has an essayist’s eye and a rapper’s virtuosity, and she’s going to conquer the world.”
—Joseph Fink

Dessa is a rapper, a singer, an essayist, and a proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop crew. She's performed around the world at opera houses and rock clubs, landed on the Billboard Top 200 list, and has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), and more. In 2013 Rain Taxi proudly published her poetry chapbook A Pound of Steam. She now splits her time between Manhattan, Minneapolis, and a tour van cruising at six miles per hour above the posted limit


Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 1:30pm
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At this unique event celebrating the Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes, renowned British author Geoff Dyer—whose latest illuminating books include The Street Photography of Garry Winogrand (University of Texas Press) and White Sands (Vintage)—will be in conversation about his work with Michael Kelleher, poet and Program Director of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale University. Learn more about the Windham-Campbell Prizes here.

“Omnivorously curious and psychologically probing, Geoff Dyer’s writings reinvent again and again the possibilities of nonfiction, discovering as many new subjects as he does ways of writing about them.”
—Judges’ Citation, 2015 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for Nonfiction

Geoff Dyer has had his novels and nonfiction translated into 24 languages, and no surprise—his work has ranged widely over human experience and defied the conventions of genre along the way. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, and of course the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize (to name just a few of the recognitions he has received), Dyer has proven himself to be one of contemporary letters’ most original voices.


Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 11:30am
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While her content may be controversial at times, it is never obscene but innovative. Karen Finley explores oppression, fear, love, rage, loss, and dehumanization throughout her many artistic forms; in her latest book Grabbing Pussy (OR Books), a breathless cascade of poetry and performance strategies, she takes on the pyschosexual obsessions that have come to dominate American politics, offering a feminist challenge to our increasingly divided world.

“She takes the viewer by the throat as she screams, cajoles, and seduces us into some awareness of the world at large . . . She is irreplaceable."
—Hilton Als

A renowned American performance artist, musician, and writer, Karen Finley has offered her work as a means of activism. She is the author of nine books, has performed everywhere from Lincoln Center (NYC) to the Bobino (Paris), and her art is widely collected by major museums around the world. She has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Obies, two Bessies, and a Ms. magazine Woman of the Year Award. Finley is a professor in the department of Art and Public Policy at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.


Taxi Stage, Fine Arts Center, 12:30pm
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Revered as a musician, David Grubbs is becoming followed by many for his insightful writings as well. In the wake of Records Ruin the Landscape, an investigation into experimental music (reviewed here in Rain Taxi!), Grubbs turns his attention to live performance in his latest book, Now that the audience is assembled (Duke University Press). No sober essay, this latest paean to music is a book-length prose poem that describes a fictional, phantasmagorical all-night concert. Bring your listening ears.

“David Grubbs's tone poem on the vibratory consciousness betwixt performer and listener rings with an intellect both spiritual and Earth-activist . . . an enlightened and welcome vision.”
—Thurston Moore

Founding member of Squirrel Bait, Bastro, and Gastr del Sol, David Grubbs is also a composer, vocalist, and plays many instruments, but his artistry truly shines through with the melodies he coaxes from his guitar. He dances between cadences and has a cubist style. He performs all over the world, teaches in Brooklyn College’s MFA programs in Performance and Interactive Media Arts and Creative Writing.


Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 10:30am

Co-sponsored by the Augsburg University MFA Program, and celebrating the release of the Howling Bird Press Prize winner Simples

Join Augsburg University MFA for a book launch to celebrate the 2018 Howling Bird Press Publication Prize winner, acclaimed Twin Cities poet KateLynn Hibbard, who based Simples on extensive research into the history of women’s experience on the American prairie during the 19th and 20th centuries. At this Festival celebration, Hibbard will read from the work and discuss it onstage with Minnesota author Karen Babine.

“A book of remedy and release on the prairies of old.”
—Heid Erdrich

An essential Twin Cities LGBTQ voice, poet KateLynn Hibbard is a professor of writing and women’s history at MCTC. Her other published works are Sleeping Upside Down and Sweet Weight. She also edited When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience. She has won many grants and awards for her writing and is a long-time singer with One Voice, Minnesota’s LGBTQA mixed chorus.


Taxi Stage, Fine Arts Center, 10:30am
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Are you an author? Come to this free presentation by a Public Relations and Social Media Marketing Master! In her new book Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns, Claire McKinney reveals just that. Not to be missed if you’re trying to get your writing noticed!

"McKinney, a veteran book publicist, has produced a clear, basic road map to publicizing a book...the case studies of the author's clients are helpful, and the book is a solid beginners' guide to an ever-faster-paced industry."
Publishers Weekly

Clare McKinney has her own PR company that helps artists in bringing themselves into the conversation. She has been in the book publicity industry for over 20 years, and has appeared on Today and CSPAN as an expert on publishing and marketing strategies. She has worked with a plethora of well noted writers such as Toni Morrison, Madeleine Albright, Rick Moody, and James Patterson.


Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 12:30pm

Co-sponsored by Books for Africa

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A veritable giant of World Literature, Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has written novels, plays, short stories, literary and social criticism, and children’s literature, both in English and in the Gikuyu language. His latest book, Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir (The New Press), offers ample testament to Ngũgĩ’s belief that “the power of imagination to help humans break free of confinement is truly the story of all art.”

“One of the greatest writers of our time.”
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ngũgĩ has won awards such as the Nonino International Prize for Literature and the Jorge Guillen Lifetime Achievement Award, has been shortlisted for others including the Man Booker International Prize, and is frequently listed as a likely recipient of the Nobel Prize. He is the author of many published works, the holder of many honorary doctorates, and is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.


Taxi Stage, Fine Arts Center, 1:30pm

Co-sponsored by Unrestricted Interest

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Since the 1940s researchers have repeated claims about autistic people's limited ability to understand language, to partake in imaginative play, and to generate the complex theory of mind necessary to appreciate literature. In See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor (Duke University Press), Ralph James Savarese, an English professor whose son is one of the first nonspeaking autistics to graduate from college, spectacularly upends this view. Find out more about how you too can “see it feelingly” at this special Book Festival session.

“This deft and impassioned hybrid—part memoir, part disability study, part portraiture, part literary criticism—is a book of revelations about reading, neurodiversity, and American literature. I was repeatedly startled by its slow cascade of correctives and insights—deepened, widened, and enlarged. It is a necessary book.”
—Edward Hirsch

Ralph James Savarese is a loving father and proud disability activist; his book Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption won many awards and was featured on CNN and NPR. Savarese is also the co-editor of Papa PhD: Men in the Academy Write About Fatherhood and co-produced the Peabody Award-winning documentary Deej, about his son D.J. Savarese. He teaches American literature, creative writing, and disability studies at Grinnell College in Iowa.


Taxi Stage, Fine Arts Center, 11:30am
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A renowned expert on Hispanic, Jewish, and American cultures, Ilan Stavans brings his learning to bear on his voluminous output; in the past year alone he has published works of cultural history, poetry, graphic novels, and more, including Latinos in the United States: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press) and Sor Juana: Or, The Persistence of Pop (University of Arizona Press). Stavans will appear in conversation with Euan Kerr, arts correspondent for MPR News.

“Once again, Stavans bridges divides and distances in time and space. We would lose so much of the hemisphere—of ourselves—without his knowledge and guidance.”
—Julia Alvarez

Ilan Stavans is a teacher, author, publisher, lexicographer and TV personality (he hosted the syndicated PBS show Conversation with Ilan Stavans). He has edited the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature in addition to many other works that have expanded readers’ access to world literature, including the 1,000 page The Poetry of Pablo Neruda and the three-volume set Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories. Stavans is the publisher of Restless Books and has won many awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and Jewish Book Award. He teaches at Amherst College.

Visiting Bob
A Poetry Tribute to Bob Dylan

Rain Stage, Fine Arts Center, 4:30pm

Co-sponsored by New Rivers Press, and celebrating the release of the anthology Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan

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Join New Rivers Press as they launch a tribute to Minnesota’s most recent Nobel Laureate! As Joyce Carol Oates says, “In a pop culture of rapid, vertiginous change, when audiences are more fickle and ephemeral than any in history, Bob Dylan yet retains his stature and something of his original mystery.” This special Twin Cities celebration of the bard from Hibbing will demonstrate that in poetry, song, and more.

Readings by Marge Barrett, Ray Gonzalez, Diane Jarvenpa, Linda Back McKay, William Meissner, Tim Nolan, Dave Pichaske, John Reinhard, Joyce Sutphen, Katrina Vandenberg, and Connie Wanek. Also featuring music by Debra Marquart, comments by book designer Phuriwat Chirapasit, and an introduction by editors Thom Tammaro and Alan Davis.

“If Bob Dylan has so many sides as to be a house of mirrors, then here are a hundred poets caught in the glass. Some worshipful, others still obsessed, or nostalgic, imitative, even rapacious, but all gathered together around a singer who shuffled words and music together to form a whole new deck. Imagine, one poet within a circle of a hundred poets!”
—Billy Collins

“Here's a fine anthology of poems that rub shoulders with Bob Dylan's work in splendidly varied ways. There are renowned and unfamiliar poets here. Some have known or met him; all have heard that voice ("like a lone wolf's cry in the cold night," says one). Some pay tribute to the immensity of his influence; some fight it; some confess. Some scatter fond and knowing allusions to his lines through theirs. Some love him; some resist. This is not hagiography in verse. It is voices celebrating voice, poetry engaging with song.”
—Michael Gray

“The poets included in this collection want no explanations from Dylan; they are busy, if anything, using him to explain themselves. These are the people who could hold entire conversations using only Dylan quotes and a few conjunctions. Some of them are people who first realized that the words count when they first listened to Dylan. That the way it’s said is as important as what is said. They get it, and reading them makes me feel that I am in very congenial company.”
—Chris Smither, from the Foreword

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