Twenty-two authors and illustrators become part of Michigan’s literary history

Night for Notables honors great Michigan writers


Each year, the Night for Notables recognizes 20 books with ties to Michigan at a special recognition program and enlists previous winners as speakers.

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford will keynote the 2018 Night for Notables at the Library of Michigan. Ford won the Pulitzer for his book “Independence Day” in 1995, his book “Canada” was selected as a Michigan Notable Book in 2013.

Ford will be interviewed by another Notable Book author, Monica McFawn, whose collection of short stories and her first book, “Bright Shards of Somewhere Else,” won a Notable Book Award in 2015 and was selected as the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. McFawn is an assistant professor at Northern Michigan University. Ford is a graduate of Michigan State University.

The Michigan Notable Awards come at a time when two previous award winners are receiving exceptional attention, based on movie adaptations of their literary work.

Doug Stanton won the Michigan Notable Book Award for his nonfiction exploration of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis in his book “In Harm’s Way.” The film, “12 Strong,” based on his work, is in theaters. “Horse Soldiers.” Michael Zadoorian’s “The Leisure Seeker,” a 2013 winner of the Notable Book Award, is also basking in silver-screen success with a tender treatment of an older couple’s last road trip.

This year’s Michigan Notable Book Award winners are as varied as those in previous years, said State librarian Randy Riley, whose office oversees the annual award program.

“Each year the list steps up the game and the stories are pretty amazing,” he said.

This year’s class includes books as varied as treatises on Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, “Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century,” by Hendrik Meijer, CEO of Meijer, and “Grown Up Anger” about the connection between Dylan, Wood Guthrie and the 1913 Calumet Massacre by rock ‘n’ roll writer Daniel Wolff.

Other books cover topics as varied as the history of Black Detroit, “Black Detroit: A People’s of History of Self-Determination,” by Herb Boyd, to the blockbuster million-dollar thriller, “The Marsh King’s Daughter,” by Karen Dionne.

Poetry, the short story craft, environmental examinations, lore of the Great Lakes, a biography of Michigan industrialists, and a children’s book based on a popular rock song, all make appearances in this year’s Michigan Notable Book Awards.

“Harborless,” a book of poetry by first-time award winner MSU Professor Cindy Hunter Morgan, is a moving collection of poetry retelling the history of Michigan’s shipwrecks.

Another book, “Sailing into History:

Great Lakes Bulk Carriers of the 20th century and the Crews Who Sailed Them,” by Frank Boles, the director of Central Michigan University’s Library, takes a look at the history of the Great Lake’s sailors.

Two books with environmental themes also made this year’s list. “Saving Arcadia: A Story of Conservation and Community in the Great Lakes,” by Heather Shumaker, has been described as a “suspenseful and intimate land conservation adventure story” about preserving a Lake Michigan sand dune.

The scary story of ecological catastrophe facing the Great Lakes is chillingly told in Dan Egan’s book, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.”

The growing number of short story aficionados will appreciate “The Goat Fish and Lover’s Knot” by Jack Driscoll, where most of the stories are set in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula, and Jim Daniels’ “Rowing Inland,” about growing up in the Detroit area facing the tribulations of a deteriorating economy.

Also on the list are books on beer, baking, sports and the Kellogg Brothers.

Author William Rapai has assembled “Brewed in Michigan,” which highlights Michigan breweries and their impact on Michigan’s economy. A beautiful examination of an Ann Arbor institution, Zingerman’s, is the topic of “Zingerman’s Bakehouse,” which turns out daily offerings of rye and sourdough bread, along with sour cream coffeecake and brownies.

And speaking of sweet, “The Kelloggs,” delves into mass production of our breakfast cereal while another sweet book, “The Year of the Pitcher,” looks at the 1968 baseball season and the epic pitching duel between Bob Gibson and Detroit’s Denny McLain.

Jack White’s children book, “We’re Going to Be Friends,” illustrated by New Yorker Elinor Blake, is a song repurposed into a children’s book, and the throwback art reminiscent of the 1950s tells the best elements of childhood.

Issues related to Detroit and race are included in the Notable Book List, led by the well-received “The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City on the Straits,” by Tya Miles. The paradigm-shifting book reveals how deep slavery ran in early Detroit history.

The history of Detroit in the seminal year 1967 is retold in “Detroit 1967” by Joel Stone, and a book that recognizes one of Detroit’s most important architects, “Designing Detroit,” by Michael G. Smith, is also on the list.

Two first-time novelists Julie Buntin, “Marlena: A Novel,” and Stephen Mack, “August Snow,” round out the list.

Bill Castanier is a member of the Michigan Notable Book selection committee.

Night for Notables 5:30 p.m., Saturday

April 7 Library of Michigan.

Tickets $50 Reception tickets $150 libraryofmichigan

City Pulse Book Club meets Feb. 1

The City Pulse Book Club will discuss

“The Odyssey of Echo Company,” by Doug Stanton, which looks at the Tet offensive in Vietnam, at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at Schuler Books & Music in the Meridian Mall.

The book choice for March is “Slouching Towards Jerusalem,” by Joan Didion, which replaces the original choice of “My- Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness.” The club will meet at 7 p.m. March 1.

For April, the club will read “Parting the Waters: America in the King years,” by Taylor Branch. It will meet at 7 p.m. April 5.

All meetings for the rest of the year will be at Schuler Books and Music in Meridian Mall. For more information, please contact Bill Castanier at


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