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2016 Michigan Notable Book Author Biographies

Rose Water and Orange Blossoms: Fresh & Classic Recipes from My Lebanese Kitchen by Maureen Abood (Running Press Book Publishers)

Maureen Abood is a professional writer and food blogger working out of her Michigan homes in Harbor Springs and East Lansing. Her blog, Rose Water & Orange Blossoms, features her writing and photography and received the Best Food Blog Award’s Reader’s Choice, Best Regional Food Blog distinction in 2014.   Her work has appeared in: The Washington Post, Saveur, The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, NPR’s The Salt, and elsewhere.  Abood trained at the culinary school Tante Marie’s in San Francisco as well as under the tutelage of her Lebanese family members.

Scrapper by Matt Bell (Soho Press)

Matt Bell, a previous Michigan Notable Book author, is the author most recently of the novel Scrapper, published in September 2015 by Soho Press. His last novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, a Michigan Notable Book, and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of two previous books of fiction, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby, and a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II, published in 2015 by Boss Fight Books. His writing has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Tin House, The New York Times, Conjunctions, Gulf Coast, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

Russell Kirk: American Conservative by Bradley J. Birzer (University Press of Kentucky)

Bradley L. Birzer holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College (Michigan) and teaches courses on the Civil War, the American West, and twentieth century Christian humanism. He is the author of several books, including American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth, and the co-founder of the online publication, The Imaginative Conservative. Birzer earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, and, in 1998, a PhD from Indiana University.  He serves on the boards of the Free Enterprise Institute and The Center for Cultural Renewal. Birzer is a fellow with the Foundation for Economic Education, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The McConnell Center for Public Policy, the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, and the Center for Economic Personalism (Brazil).

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell (W.W. Norton & Company)

Bonnie Jo Campbell, a previous Michigan Notable Book author, grew up on a small Michigan farm and went on to earn a philosophy degree at the University of Chicago.  Her collection Women and Other Animals details the lives of extraordinary females in rural and small town Michigan, and it won the AWP prize for short fiction; her story The Smallest Man in the World has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her novel Q Road investigates the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land. Her critically-acclaimed short fiction collection American Salvage, which consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction.  She has received her M.A. in mathematics and her M.F.A. in writing from Western Michigan University.

My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) by Alison DeCamp (Crown Books for Young Readers)

Alison DeCamp grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where her favorite book was by Charles Dickens and her mother encouraged her to write.  She went on to graduate from Michigan State University with enough credits to be a doctor but chose to be a teacher instead. After eight years of middle school and high school language arts, she left teaching to stay home with her now teenage children and write.  She lives with her family and dogs in Northern Michigan, overlooking the lake.  Now also a glass artist, she can occasionally be found working at Between the Covers bookstore in Harbor Springs Michigan.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Angela Flournoy, whose father is a Detroit native, is the author of The Turner House, a debut novel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times notable book of the year. The novel was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and nominated for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and an NAACP Image Award. She is a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Honoree for 2015. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for The New York Times, The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Flournoy received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. She has taught at the University of Iowa and The Writer's Foundry at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn. She is joining the faculty at Southern New Hampshire University's low-residency MFA program in Spring 2016.

Garden for the Blind by Kelly Fordon (Wayne State University Press)

Kelly Fordon.  Prior to writing fiction and poetry, Kelly Fordon worked at the NPR member station in Detroit and for National Geographic magazine. Her fiction, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in The Boston Review, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Kenyon Review, and various other journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, On the Street Where We Live, which won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest, and Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt, which was published by Kattywompus Press in 2013. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Queens University of Charlotte and works for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit as a writer-in-residence.

Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity by John Gallagher, (Painted Turtle Book/Wayne State University Press)

John Gallagher is a veteran journalist and author whose book Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City was named by the Huffington Post as among the best social and political books of 2010.  His most recent book prior to Yamasaki in Detroit was Revolution Detroit: Strategies for Urban Reinvention.  John was born in New York City and joined the Detroit Free Press in 1987 to cover urban and economic redevelopment efforts in Detroit and Michigan, a post he still holds. His other books include Great Architecture of Michigan and, as co-author, AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. John and his wife, Sheu-Jane, live along Detroit’s east riverfront.

What Happens by John Herrmann, edited by Sara A. Kosiba (Hastings College Press)

Born in 1900, John Herrmann is known as Lansing, Michigan’s most forgotten author. Herrmann was the scion of a successful Lansing family which owned John Herrmann’s Sons, the largest bespoke tailor in the state.  His 1926 novel, What Happens was confiscated and banned in the United States, only being published in Paris.  The obscenity trial he eventually lost was one of the first major tests of community standards and obscenity.  Herrmann was a good friend and companion to Ernest Hemingway, supplying him with used suits during lean years.  Once husband to the writer Josephine Herbst, Herrmann is noted for his radical writings and close association with the U. S. Communist Party.  He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and later moved to Mexico where he connected with beat writers including William Burroughs.  He died in 1959.

The People's Lawyer: The Life and Times of Frank J. Kelley, the Nation's Longest-Serving Attorney General by Frank J. Kelley with Jack Lessenberry (Wayne State University Press)

Frank J. Kelley served as Michigan's 50th attorney general. His 37 years in office, from 1962 to 1999, made him both the youngest (37 years old) and oldest (74 years old) attorney general in the state's history, and led to his nickname, the "Eternal General." He still holds the record as the longest-serving state attorney general in U.S. history. Kelley was the first state attorney general to establish both a consumer protection and environmental protection division. After his retirement from government, he co-founded Kelley Cawthorne, a prominent governmental affairs and law firm in Lansing, Michigan.

What Happens by John Herrmann, edited by Sara A. Kosiba (Hastings College Press)

Dr. Sara Kosiba is an associate professor of English at Troy University in Alabama.  Her research specializes in 20th century Midwestern writers, including figures such as Ernest Hemingway, Dawn Powell, Josephine Herbst, and John Herrmann.  She is a past president of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature and an editorial board member of Middle West Review and the Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume II (forthcoming 2016 from Indiana University Press).  She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and a master's degree in literature from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University.

The People's Lawyer: The Life and Times of Frank J. Kelley, the Nation's Longest-Serving Attorney General by Frank J. Kelley with Jack Lessenberry (Wayne State University Press)

Jack Lessenberry is the head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University, is WUOM-FM's senior political analyst and delivers daily essays and commentary on important Michigan issues.  He has also been a writer for many national and regional publications, including Vanity Fair, Esquire, George, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Currently, he is a contributing editor and columnist for the Metro Times, the Traverse-City Record Eagle, Dome Magazine and the Toledo Blade, and formerly for the Oakland Press and the Heritage Newspaper Group in Wayne and Washtenaw counties.  Lessenberry has won a National Emmy award in 1995 for one of two Frontline documentaries he helped report and produced on Dr. Jack Kevorkian.  Lessenberry has a master's degree in Journalism and East European studies from the University of Michigan.

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoo (Candlewick Press)

Kekla Magoon is the author of five young adult novels: How It Went Down, Camo Girl, 37 Things I Love, Fire in the Streets, and The Rock and the River, for which she received the ALA Coretta Scott King New Talent Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination.  She also writes non-fiction on historical topics, including Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957-58 and the forthcoming PANTHERS!: The History and Legacy of the Black Panther Party in America.  Born in Michigan, she was raised in a biracial family in the Midwest.  Kekla now teaches writing in New York City, conducts school and library visits nationwide, and serves on the Writers ‘Council for the National Writing Project.  Kekla holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Great Girls in Michigan History by Patricia Majher (Wayne State University Press)

Patricia Majher is a graduate of Central Michigan University where she received a BA in journalism.  She earned her MS in historic preservation at Eastern Michigan University after which she joined the Mackinac State Historic Parks division as the public relations and marketing officer.  She currently serves as editor of Michigan History magazine and was the assistant director/curator at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame.  Great Girls in Michigan History is her second book. Her first was titled  Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service.

Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story by David Maraniss (Simon and Schuster)

David Maraniss was born in Detroit just in time for him to witness the city at its most influential.  Maraniss, an associate editor at The Washington Post, is a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the Pulitzer for national reporting in 1993 for his newspaper coverage of then presidential candidate Bill Clinton.  He was also part of The Washington Post team that won the 2008 Pulitzer for the newspaper’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting.  He has won several notable awards for his writing including: the Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Frankfort Book Prize, the Eagleton Book Prize, the Ambassador Book Prize, and the Latino Book Prize.

Making Waves: Michigan’s Boat-Building Industry, 1865-2000 by Scott M. Peters (University of Michigan Press)

Scott Peters was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in History. He received a master’s degree in History and Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and interned at the Great Lakes Historical Society. He has worked at the Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Museum in Flint, the International Center for Artificial Organs and Transplantation in Cleveland, and for the past 30 years at the Michigan Historical Museum, where he is the Curator of Collections. Scott’s passion for boating came from many rides in boats as a child on Hubbard Lake, and he became interested in Great Lakes shipping from camping excursions near the Soo Locks and at Algonac State Park. He has written articles on maritime subjects for Michigan History and other journals.

Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions from Center Court by Jalen Rose (Crown/Archetype)

Jalen Rose.  Current ESPN/ABC analyst and former NBA star Jalen Rose was born and raised in Detroit.  He graduated from Southwestern High School where he earned a spot on the University of Michigan’s basketball team becoming a member of the “Fab Five” of starting freshmen.  Jalen went on to be drafted by the Denver Nuggets to start his thirteen-year NBA career.  He went on to play for the Indiana Pacers and was honored with the Professional Basketball Writers Association Magic Johnson Award.  Jalen was inducted into the Detroit High School Hall of Fame in 2013.  The Detroit News has recognized Jalen with the Michiganian of the Year Award in recognition of his excellence, courage and philanthropy to uplift not only the metropolitan area but all of Michigan.  Perhaps most notably, Mr. Rose established the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a tuition free, open enrollment charter high school in Northwest Detroit.

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit by Mark Rosenthal (Detroit Institute of Arts)

Mark Rosenthal  is adjunct curator of Contemporary Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. An independent curator, he has had a distinguished career in museum work, having served as head of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as curator at the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California, and Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. During his varied career, Rosenthal has organized exhibitions and written about artists such as Alexander Calder, Joseph Beuys, Jasper Johns, Anselm Kiefer and Pablo Picasso.  Holder of a PhD in Art History from the University of Iowa, Rosenthal has held adjunct teaching positions at Williams College, Massachusetts; Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Berkeley.

The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry by Rob St. Mary (Painted Turtle Book/Wayne State University Press)

Born and raised in the northeast suburbs of Detroit, Rob St. Mary cultivated a love of media at an early age. He remembers his first movie experience at age two. A writer from an early age, Rob co-created an underground student newspaper in high school.  In 1999, his low-budget 16mm vampire/comedy, Tainted, played at the Cannes Film Festival in the market section. In 2002, Rob undertook his first feature length documentary. He went on to create The Separation on State Street, released in 2007, which followed a church/state separation case in Michigan's thumb. Rob's film work has screened in festivals internationally and garnered awards.  Since 2001, Rob has worked in radio news. He began his career as a newsroom producer at WJR in Detroit. He has also worked at WLEW in Bad Axe, WSGW in Saginaw, WOOD in Grand Rapids and WDET in Detroit.

Haymaker by Adam Schuitema (Northern Illinois University Press/Switchgrass Books)

Adam Schuitema, a previous Michigan Notable Book author, is the author of the short story collection Freshwater Boys, and his stories have appeared in numerous journals, including Glimmer Train, North American Review, Indiana Review, TriQuarterly, Black Warrior Review, and Crazyhorse. Adam earned his MFA and PhD from Western Michigan University, is an associate professor of English at Kendall College of Art and Design, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife and daughter.

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoo (Candlewick Press)

Ilyasah Shabazz, third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, is a community organizer, social activist, motivational speaker, and author of the critically acclaimed Growing Up X. She is co-editor with Herb Boyd, The Diary of Malcolm X, worked with illustrator AG Ford, The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X and with Kekla Magoon, X.  She produces The WAKE-UP Tour™, an exclusive youth empowerment program.  Shabazz is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a Trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.  Shabazz serves on the Board of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, and a Project Advisor for the PBS award-winning documentary, Prince Among Slaves.  She holds a Master of Science degree in Education and Human Resource Development.

M Train by Patti Smith (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist.  She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock.  She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone.  Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978.  Her books include Just Kids, winner of the National Book Award in 2010, Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence.  In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor given to an artist by the French Republic.  She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.  Smith married the musician Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980.

The Stone Circle Poems: The Collected Poems of Terry Wooten by Terry Wooten (Parkhurst Brothers Publishers)

Terry Wooten, a native of northern Michigan, is a two-time recipient of the Michigan Creative Artist Award, as well as having been listed in the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Directory.  His Elders Project was awarded the 2013 State History Award in Education from the Historical Society of Michigan.  With a bioregional focus on people and places, he has written poems on diverse topics that range from Ernie Harwell radio broadcasts of the Detroit Tigers baseball games, to shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.  He has published ten books and his work has appeared in numerous publications.  His book, Lifelines: A WWII Story of Survival and Love, has been turned into a play production, forensic piece, used as a book of the month selection and as the foundation for school humanities projects.


Updated 03/28/2016