Literati is thrilled to welcome author Lucy Tan who will be sharing with us her debut novel What We Were Promised. Lucy will be joined with author Lillian Li for a post-reading discussion.
About What We Were Promised:
Set in modern Shanghai, a debut by a Chinese-American writer about a prodigal son whose unexpected return forces his newly wealthy family to confront painful secrets and unfulfilled promises.
After years of chasing the American dream, the Zhen family has moved back to China. Settling into a luxurious serviced apartment in Shanghai, Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen, join an elite community of Chinese-born, Western-educated professionals who have returned to a radically transformed city.
One morning, in the eighth tower of Lanson Suites, Lina discovers that a treasured ivory bracelet has gone missing. This incident sets off a wave of unease that ripples throughout the Zhen household. Wei, a marketing strategist, bows under the guilt of not having engaged in nobler work. Meanwhile, Lina, lonely in her new life of leisure, assumes the modern moniker taitai-a housewife who does no housework at all. She is haunted by the circumstances surrounding her arranged marriage to Wei and her lingering feelings for his brother, Qiang. Sunny, the family’s housekeeper, is a keen but silent observer of these tensions. An unmarried woman trying to carve a place for herself in society, she understands the power of well-kept secrets. When Qiang reappears in Shanghai after decades on the run with a local gang, the family must finally come to terms with the past and its indelible mark on their futures.
From a silk-producing village in rural China, up the corporate ladder in suburban America, and back again to the post-Maoist nouveaux riches of modern Shanghai, What We Were Promised explores the question of what we owe to our country, our families, and ourselves.
Lucy Tan grew up in New Jersey and has spent much of her adult life in New York and Shanghai. She received her B.A. from New York University and her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the 2016 August Derleth Prize. Her fiction has been published in journals such as Asia Literary Review and Ploughshares, where she was winner of the 2015 Emerging Writer’s Contest. This is her first novel.
Lillian Li received her BA from Princeton and her MFA from the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of a Hopwood Award in Short Fiction, as well as Glimmer Train‘s New Writer Award. Her work has been featured inGuernica, Granta , and Jezebel. She is from the D.C. metro area and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Literati is thrilled to welcome author Daniel Abbott who will be reading from his debut novel The Concrete.
About The Concrete:
Set on the gritty southeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, an impoverished area known for drugs and violence, The Concrete centers around the home of Jackson and Mae Carter, foster parents of two boys–Isaac, who is white, and Miles, who is black–who share dark and intersecting histories that neither one is aware of. As the boys try to escape the grim reality of the violent streets–i.e. “the concrete”–in different ways–Isaac through basketball, Miles though music–the novel shifts back and forth in time, in the process revealing the story of an entangled community plagued by trauma and death, trying to confront the ghosts of its past, and seize a better life. A multi-point-of-view work of realistic and often graphic literary fiction, The Concrete is a striking debut that grapples with the effects of childhood trauma on teens, lost dreams, human sexuality, and the difficulties of marriage.
Daniel Abbott received his BA from Grand Valley State University and his MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives with his family in Grand Rapids, MI.
Literati is excited to welcome author Margaret Bradham Thornton who will be sharing her latest novel A Theory of Love.
About A Theory of Love:
A follow-up to her successful debut Charleston and set in the world’s most glamorous landscapes, this moving new love story from Margaret Bradham Thornton draws on a metaphor of entanglement theory to ask: when two people collide, are they forever attached no matter where they are?
Helen Gibbs, a British journalist on assignment on the west coast of Mexico, meets Christopher Delavaux, an intriguing half-French, half-American lawyer-turned-financier who has come alone to surf. Living lives that never stop moving, from their first encounter in Bermeja to marriage in London and travels to such places as Saint-Tropez, Tangier, and Santa Clara, Helen and Christopher must decide how much they exist for themselves and how much they exist for each other.
In an effort to build his firm, Christopher leads a life full of speed and ambition with little time for Helen and even less when he suspects his business partner of illegal activity. Helen, a reluctant voyeur to Christopher’s world of power and position, searches far and wide for reporting work that will “take a bite out of her soul”–refugees in Calais, a mountain climber in Chamonix, an orphaned circus performer in Cuba. A Theory of Love captures the ambivalence at the center of human experience: does one reside in the familiar comforts of solitude or dare to open one’s heart and risk having it broken? Set in some of the most picturesque places in the world, this novel questions what it means to love someone and leaves us wondering–can nothing save us but a fall?
Margaret Bradham Thornton is the author of Charleston and the editor of Tennessee Williams’s Notebooks, for which she received the Bronze ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in autobiography/memoir and the C. Hugh Holman Prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarship published in 2006, given by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. She is a graduate of Princeton University and lives in Florida.
Literait is thrilled to welcome author and eduacator Callie Feyen who will be sharing her new book The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet.
About The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet:
What do teachers feel when facing William Shakespeare, tales of family feud, breathless kissing scenes-all in front of a class of teens who are keeping their heads down (and threatening to fall asleep or plot their next prank in the process)? We may never know what our own 8th or 9th grade teachers felt. But, on this count, educator Callie Feyen has done us a favor. She has written a poignant memoir-‘The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet.’ It begins with a kiss. Then, page by page, it reveals her generous, hopeful, and humorous heart. For teachers everywhere, this is a beautiful book to help them remember why they teach. For those of us who just love to get the juicy details of what someone in a challenging position really thinks, this book will satisfy (and sometimes make us laugh, or cry).
Callie Feyen likes Converse tennis shoes and colorful high heels, reading the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Twilight series. Her favorite outfit has always been a well-worn pair of jeans and a white T-shirt, but she wants hoop skirts with loads of tulle to come back into style. Her favorite line from literature comes from Sharon Creech’s Absolutely Normal Chaos “I don’t know who I am yet. I’m still waiting to find out.” Feyen has been a middle school teacher, is the Teaching and Learning Editor and Children’s Editor for Tweetspeak Poetry, and serves as the At-Risk Literacy Specialist in the Ypsilanti Public Schools.
Literati is pleased to welcome author Leah Weiss who will be reading and discussing her new novel If the Creek Don‘t Rise.
About If the Creek Don’t Rise:
In a North Carolina mountain town filled with moonshine and rotten husbands, Sadie Blue is only the latest girl to face a dead-end future at the mercy of a dangerous drunk. She’s been married to Roy Tupkin for fifteen days, and she knows now that she should have listened to the folks who said he was trouble. But when a stranger sweeps in and knocks the world off-kilter for everyone in town, Sadie begins to think there might be more to life than being Roy’s wife.
Leah Weiss is a Southern writer born in North Carolina and raised in the foothills of Virginia. Her debut novel IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE will be released in August of 2017. Her short stories have been published in The Simple Life magazine, Every Day Fiction and Deep South Magazine. She retired in 2015 from a 24-year career as Executive Assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School. She now pursues writing full time and enjoys speaking to book clubs.
Literati is thrilled to welcome author Rickey Gard Diamond and activist Barbara Mhangami who will be sharing and discussing the new book Screwnomics: How Our Economy Works Against Women and Real Ways to Make Lasting Change.
The personal is not only political, it’s also economic and sexual: as a society, we’re encouraged to view economics as objective science far removed from us–when in reality it has concrete and far-reaching effects on our everyday lives.
In Screwnomics, Rickey Gard Diamond shares personal stories, cartoons, and easy-to-understand economic definitions in her quest to explain the unspoken assumptions of 300 years of EconoMansplaining–the economic theory that women should always work for less, or better for free. It unpacks economic definitions, turns a men-only history on its head, and highlights female experiences and solutions. encouraging female readers to think about their own economic memoir and confront our system’s hyper-masculine identity. In the past fifty years, the US has witnessed a major shift in economic theory, and yet few women can identify or talk about its influence in their own lives. Accessible and inspiring, Screwnomics offers female readers hope for a better, more inclusive future–and the tools to make that hope a reality.
Rickey Gard Diamond began writing in the midst of big political change and growing American differences. In 1985, she became founding editor of Vermont Woman, where she continues today as a contributing editor. She taught writing and literature, feminist and media studies at Vermont College of Norwich University for over 20 years, while publishing articles and short fiction. In 1999, Calyx Books published her novel, Second Sight, which was reissued by HarperCollins in 2000. Her short fiction, published in literary journals, was recently issued as a collection titled Whole Worlds Could Pass Away. She was awarded a Hedgebrook fellowship in 2014 to create a book on economics that she envisioned would include cartoons and be readable and even humorous.
Literati is excited to welcome Anthony Debenedet who will be sharing his new book Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World.
About Playful Intelligence:
As adults, we have more responsibilities than we could have ever imagined growing up. Learning the work of marriage. Navigating the bumpy terrain of parenting. Maintaining social relationships. Facing grave hardship. Finding contentment in our career. As the years pass by, we sense how the good things in life are so often eclipsed by stress. We find ourselves doing everything we can just to endure adulthood, all the while wondering whether we are actually enjoying it. This is exactly why Dr. Anthony T. DeBenedet decided to write Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World, to show readers how playfulness helps us counterbalance the seriousness of adulthood
“Five years ago, my life was becoming more intense and stressful,” DeBenedet says. “My relationships, clinical work as a physician, and basic interactions with the world were blurring into a frazzled mosaic. Going through the motions became my norm, and every day brought busyness and exhaustion. I thought about whether I was depressed. I didn’t think I was. Anxious? Sure, but aren’t we all anxious on some level? I also thought about the lifestyle factors that could be making me feel this way. Was I getting enough sleep? Was I exercising regularly? Was I eating healthy? Was I playing and remembering to be playful?”
Today, we live in a taxing world. The endless pressure to keep up with our responsibilities and the daily headlines swarming around us can be overwhelming. DeBenedet’s work comes at a time when stress, uncertainty, and intensity levels are high. Playful Intelligence shows adults that there is a way to live lighter–and smarter–as we navigate the seriousness of adulthood. It’s not about taking life less seriously; it’s about taking ourselves less seriously.
The book’s core chapters are devoted to exploring the effects and benefits of five playful qualities: imagination, sociability, humor, spontaneity, and wonder. By examining playfulness as a sum of its parts, readers will gain a working awareness of its power and be able to apply playful principles to their own lives, bringing the magic of childhood back into their day-to-day existence. The book also offers practical suggestions on how to make life more playful in nature.
Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D. is a practicing physician and behavioral-science enthusiast. His interviews and writings have run in various media outlets, including the New York Times, the Today show, the Washington Post, and TIME Ideas. He also co-authored The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It (Quirk Books, 2011), a parenting book about the importance of parent-child physical play. DeBenedet has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering, a Master of Science Degree in Health and Healthcare Research from the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, and a Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan Health System. DeBenedet lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he enjoys spending time with his family, connecting with friends, and playing a little basketball.
We are thrilled to welcome to Literati author Abbey Mei Otis who will be reading and sharing her new collection Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories.
Praise for Alien Virus Love Disaster:
“Abbey Mei Otis’s stories are incandescently dark, if you can imagine such a thing (but maybe only she can). Full of danger and strangeness, but written in carbonated and astounding prose that is all her own, these stories create worlds and will make you contemplate (and worry about) our own.” — Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck & Other Stories
“These are amazing, electric stories—you can feel the live wire sizzling in them from the first sentence, and you know you’re about to take a wild, unforgettable trip. Abbey Mei Otis is my favorite kind of writer: her worlds are uniquely strange yet eerily relatable, and she knows how to make you laugh and weep at the same time.” — Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will
“After I read this book, I woke up with bumpy, reddish growths along my spine. They burst, releasing marvels: aliens, robots, prefab houses, vinyl, chainlink, styrofoam, star stuff, tales from the edge of eviction, so many new worlds. Alien Virus Love Disaster is a super-intelligent infection. Let Abbey Mei Otis give you some lumps.”
— Sofia Samatar, author of Tender
Abbey Mei Otis is a writer and teaching artist who lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. Her work is forthcoming in Tin House and has been published previously in Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Barrelhouse, Gargoyle, and Story Quarterly, among other places.
Literati is thrilled to welcome author Alice Bolin who will be sharing with us her new essay collection Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession.
About Dead Girls:
In this poignant collection, Alice Bolin examines iconic American works from the essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin to Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, and Serial, illuminating the widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men’s stories. Smart and accessible, thoughtful and heartfelt, Bolin investigates the implications of our cultural fixations, and her own role as a consumer and creator.
Bolin chronicles her life in Los Angeles, dissects the Noir, revisits her own coming of age, and analyzes stories of witches and werewolves, both appreciating and challenging the narratives we construct and absorb every day. Dead Girls begins by exploring the trope of dead women in fiction, and ends by interrogating the more complex dilemma of living women – both the persistent injustices they suffer and the oppression that white women help perpetrate.
Reminiscent of the piercing insight of Rebecca Solnit and the critical skill of Hilton Als, Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.
Alice Bolin’s nonfiction has appeared in many publications including ELLE, the Awl, the LA Review of Books, Salon, VICE’s Broadly, The Paris Review Daily, and The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.
Literati is excited to host author Laura Bernstein-Machlay who will be reading and discussing her debut essay collection Travelers.
Travelers, Laura Bernstein-Machlay’s debut collection of essays, maps the author’s journey as she makes sense of her recovering city, the generations that preceded her, and her own definition of wife, mother, and home. These intimate, humorous and heartfelt essays offer an honest, and discerning look at the moments which both challenge and redeem us; the shaping of our lineage; and the profound necessity of hope.
Deftly observed and thoughtfully crafted, Bernstein-Machlay’s lyrical prose brings to life Detroit’s survivor spirit and the indefatigable nature of family. This collection discovers the inherent grace and defining necessity of place, heritage and the search for our own footing within the vast world we inhabit. Travelers examines the intersection of the connections we form and those we inherit and how, with distance and trust, and a little luck, we might find more than just our way home.
Laura Bernstein-Machlay was born in Detroit, MI. After stints in Ann Arbor, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle, not to mention several months-long odysseys abroad, she returned to her hometown where she currently lives with her husband and daughter. An award-winning author of poetry and creative nonfiction, Laura’s poems and essays have appeared in numerous national and international magazines and literary journals.