This past weekend Chicago hosted a number of writers as its annual Printers Row Literary Festival went underway. I did a Saturday afternoon panel called “Debut Fiction,” alongside Deanna Fei, Belinda McKeon, and Rebecca Makkai, and got to talk about THIS BURNS MY HEART at the Harold T. Washington Library Reception Hall. I’d never been inside the Hall before, which is in the lower floor across from the Pritzger auditorium. Going into it feels like walking through a museum, with closed walls leading onto open spaces, and large structural columns breaking up the room.
Before the panel, I ran into Fei and Makkai in the hospitality room. Fei wrote A THREAD OF SKY, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while and am now even more excited to. I’d seen an ad for the book on my facebook page, as its algorithm correctly guessed that a literary novel about four Chinese American women who discover themselves during a trip to China would be right up my alley. Curiously, the very same day I saw the ad and thought, “I’d like to read that,” the book showed up in my mailbox at my office, sent courtesy of Penguin Books. This is either because I teach Asian American lit at the college and they want me to adopt her book, or irrefutable proof that the “Secret” really works. At the hospitality room, I also hung out with Makkai, who turned out to be a Chicagoan like me, and whose book THE BORROWER sounds really amazing. It has been getting great buzz, with a spot in the June Indie Next List, and a blurb from none other than Richard Russo.
But, to be honest, one of the really fun things about doing a Lit Fest is the social part of it. On Saturday, the great Eleanor Brown invited me to come out to dinner at Trattoria No. 10 with some other folks in town for the festival, including Meg Waite Clayton, Kelly McNees, Kristina Riggle, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Tayari Jones, and Melissa Fraterrigo. It was a really fun dinner, with conversation ranging from twitter to book tours to tax tips. With only about a month left before the pub date for THIS BURNS MY HEART, I got some lovely advice about everything from reading reviews to what to do on one’s pub date.
The Printers Row Lit Fest was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I could be a part of it. I also had a chance to use my new digital camera for the first time (it had arrived only a day earlier). The top picture is from the dinner honoring Edwidge Danticat, where I got to hang out with Nami Mun, and the one below is from the author dinner at Trattoria No. 10. Hearing about everyone’s experiences and being around so many other authors made me look forward even more to the release of my book.