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2020 Michigan Notable Book Author Biographies

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father by David Maraniss - Simon & Schuster

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner - Revell: Baker Publishing Group

Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Breathe Christian Writers Conference planning committee, volunteers her time at her church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the state. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Jodie Adams Kirshner - St. Martins Press

Jodie Adams Kirshner is a research professor at New York University. Previously on the law faculty at Cambridge University, she also teaches bankruptcy law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the American Law Institute, past term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and technical advisor to the Bank for International Settlements. She received a prestigious multi-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to research her book Broke.

Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the birth of wildlife photography by James H. McCommons - University of New Mexcio Press

James H. McCommons is a professor teaching journalism in the English Department at Northern Michigan University. He is the author of Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray - Berkley: Penguin Random House

Anissa Gray is a Senior Editor at CNN Worldwide and a contributor to Emmy and DuPont-Columbia award-winning coverage of some of the most consequential stories of our time. She began her career at Reuters as a reporter, based in New York, covering business news and international finance. Born in St. Joseph, Michigan, Gray studied English and American literature at New York University. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her wife.

Come See About Me, Marvin by Brian G. Gilmore - Wayne State University Press

Brian G. Gilmore was born and raised in Washington D.C. He is the author of three previous collections of poetry, including We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters, a 2014 NAACP Image Award Nominee. Both a Cave Canem Fellow and Kimbilio Fellow, he currently teaches social justice law at Michigan State University.

Deadly Aim: The Civil War Story of Michigan's Anishinaabe Sharpshooters by Sally M. Walker - Henry Holt and Company

Sally M. Walker is the author of Champion, a JLG selection and one of NCTE's 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Books. She is also the author of ALA Notable Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917, the acclaimed picture book Winnie, and Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which was awarded a Sibert Medal. She lives in Illinois.

The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, A Family, and the Land That Healed Themby Dean Kuipers - Bloomsbury Publishing

Dean Kuipers is the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times entertainment site. He was deputy editor of Los Angeles City Beat and the author of Burning Rainbow Farm, I Am a Bullet, and Ray Gun Out of Control. He lives in Los Angeles.

Detroit’s Birwood Wall: Hatred & Healing in the West Eight Mile Community by Gerald Van Dusen - History Press

Gerald Van Dusen is professor of English at Wayne County Community College District in Detroit, Michigan. He is author of William Starbuck Mayo, The Virtual Campus, Digital Dilemma and Canton Township. His scholarly interests include American literature and culture and local history, as well as digital technology applications in higher education. A recipient of numerous awards for innovations in teaching, learning and technology, Van Dusen is a father of four and resides with Patricia, his wife of forty years, in Plymouth, Michigan.

The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down by Abigail Pesta – Seal Press

Abigail Pesta is an award-winning journalist and author who has lived and worked around the world, from London to Hong Kong. She is the coauthor of How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, which was named among the best books of 2017 by the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, and many others. Her investigative and feature reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC News, Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine, Marie Claire, The Atlantic, Newsweek, and many others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Guardians of Detroit: Architectural Sculpture in the Motor City by Jeff Morrison - Painted Turtle Books: Wayne State University Press

Jeff Morrison is a historian and photographer who has been taking pictures since his parents gave him his first camera at age nine. He has a bachelors degree in history and art from Eastern Michigan University and over 30 years experience as a graphic artist. Creating Guardians of Detroit has allowed him to combine both of his passions while exploring the historic architecture of a city he has come to love. Jeff lives in Oxford, Michigan with his wife and their dog.

The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, An Intimate Portrait by Linda Solomon - Painted Turtle Books: Wayne State University Press

Linda Solomon is an award-winning photojournalist and author. She is known for her natural light portraits of celebrities and her nonprofit foundation, Pictures of Hope, which provides cameras to children living in shelters in the United States. Linda is a member of the prestigious Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame and the author of The Key: Celebrated People Unlock Their Secrets to Life.

Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables by Abra Berens - Chronicle Books

Abra Berens started cooking at the storied Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI. She then went on to train in the garden-focused kitchen at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. In 2009 she co-founded Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, MI, where she farmed and cooked for 8 years. After years of farming, she returned to the kitchen full time, opening and helming the café at Local Foods in Chicago, IL. In 2017, she left her Executive Chef position to return to the mitten state to join the team at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, MI, where she combines her love of farms and restaurants to create one-of-a-kind dinners on the farm celebrating the best of South West Michigan’s diverse agriculture.

Shades: Detroit Love Stories by Esperanza Cintrón - Wayne State University Press

Esperanza Cintrón is the author of three books of poetry that include Chocolate City Latina, the 2013 Naomi Long Madgett Award winner What Keeps Me Sane, and Visions of a Post-Apocalyptic Sunrise. She is a native Detroiter of Puerto Rican descent who holds a doctorate in English literature and teaches at a local college.

Sport: Shop Dog of the Great Lakes by Pamela Cameron, illustrated by Renée Graef - Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Pamela Cameron’s research and writing of Sport – Ship Dog of the Great Lakes was based on Mary Oliver’s quote, “Every day I walk into the world to be dazzled, then to be reflective.” Readers of Sport are drawn into a world of exciting maritime history and then allowed to imagine the Lake Michigan area of one hundred years ago. Ms. Cameron is committed to future generations knowing Michigan history and protecting the natural beauty and resources of the state. She has presented programs about Sport and his service to the Lighthouse Service to all ages, from preschoolers to senior citizens. Cameron, a librarian, received her M.L.S. from Western Michigan University. A native of Greenville, she resides in Kalamazoo, where her daily walks give her new writing ideas.

Renée Graef is an award-winning illustrator of more than eighty books for children, including the Kirsten series for American Girl, B is for Badger, and many of the My First Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Teacher/Pizza Guy by Jeff Kass - Wayne State University Press

Jeff Kass teaches tenth-grade English and creative writing at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the founder of the Literary Arts Program at Ann Arbor’s teen center, The Neutral Zone, where he was program director for twenty years. He is also the author of the award-winning short story collection Knuckleheads, the poetry collection My Beautiful Hook-Nosed Beauty Queen Strut Wave, and the thriller Takedown. He lives in Ann Arbor with the author Karen Smyte and their children, Sam and Julius.

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels - Revell: Baker Publishing Group

Erin Bartels is the author of We Hope for Better Things and The Words between Us. A publishing professional for seventeen years, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women's Fiction Writers Association. Her short story "This Elegant Ruin" was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. She grew up in the Bay City, Michigan, area and has spent much of her life waiting on drawbridges.

Where Today Meets Tomorrow: Eero Saarinen and the General Motors Technical Center by Susan Skarsgard - Princeton Architectural Press

Susan Skarsgard is the founder of the GM Design Archive & Special Collections. She is known internationally for her art, artist's books, calligraphy, and commercial design work. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Women of Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell - Atria Books

Mary Doria Russell is praised for her meticulous research, fine prose, and compelling narrative drive, Mary Doria Russell is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, Dreamers of the Day, Doc, and Epitaph. Dr. Russell holds a PhD in biological anthropology. She lives in Lyndhurst, Ohio

The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers by Bridgett M. Davis – Little, Brown and Company

Bridgett M. Davis is Professor of Journalism and the Writing Professions at Baruch College, CUNY, where she teaches creative, film and narrative writing and is Director of the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program. A graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she is the director of the award-winning feature film Naked Acts, as well as the author of two novels, Into the Go-Slow and Shifting Through Neutral. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

Funding for the 2020 Michigan Notable Books program is provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library of Michigan.
Updated: 2/28/2022