Novelist Mary Morris to speak Nov. 10

Mary Morris will speak about her novel, The Jazz Palace, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago. She will speak at 7 p.m. A social hour, mary_morris-222x300with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. The Society of Midland Authors program is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.

Morris began writing The Jazz Palace 18 years ago. Over almost two decades she wrote many drafts, did enormous research — including studying jazz piano — and suffered dozens of rejections. She wrote other books, but she kept coming back to this one. Though she jokes that she’s the poster child for perseverance, one may wonder: Why did it take her so long to finish it? Why did she stick with it? In her talk, Morris will discuss the long process of writing The Jazz Palace and the satisfaction, as well as the trepidation, that comes from, at last, seeing it going out into the world.

The Jazz Palace coverThe Jazz Palace tells the story of two families struggling in Chicago during the Jazz Era. The Lehrmans, who run a hat factory, lost their son in a blizzard. The Chimbrovas, who run a saloon, lost three sons on the SS Eastland when it sank in 1915. Each family hopes that one of their remaining children will rise to carry on the family business. But Benny Lehrman has no interest in making hats. His true passion is piano — especially jazz piano.

“Through the eyes of immigrants and gangsters, blacks and whites, the dreamers and those who have lost themselves, Morris sings us the story of Chicago at the start of the 20th century, underscored by the rise of jazz.” — Jodi Picoult, best-selling author.

Born in Chicago, Morris lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. She’s the author of more than 13 books, including novels, travel memoirs and collections of short stories. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, Morris sees herself as a storyteller, weaving tales. The New York Times Book Review said Morris has “talent for depicting ordinary Americans living through difficult times.”