Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Cocktail hour: 6-7 pm; Panel discussion: 7-8 pm
Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave.
22nd floor penthouse—with a terrific view of Millennium Park!
Free, open to the public. Free appetizers, cash bar.

Come hear acclaimed author Rosellen Brown discuss her new novel, “The Lake on Fire,” published by Sarabande Books. Set in Chicago in the 1890s, the novel is an epic narrative in which two young Jewish immigrants discover that the Gilded Age and the beautiful Columbian Exposition are the façade of a desperately impoverished city. The question they must answer—as relevant now as it was then—is how one can live an honest and useful life

In a review for Booklist, Donna Seaman wrote: “In an astute and enrapturing variation on Edith Wharton’s foundational Gilded Age novel, ‘The House of Mirth,’ and in accord with Dickens, Dreiser, and Doctorow, Brown imaginatively, compassionately, and spellbindingly dramatizes timeless questions of survival and social conscience.”

Entertainment Weekly listed the novel as one of “20 Fall Books Not to be Missed” and wrote: “Brown is one of our best living fiction writers, spending much of a career well under-the-radar. Her new novel, remarkably her first in nearly twenty years, is an epic that questions the American dream in a 19th-century immigrant saga.”

Brown will be interviewed by D.M. Pirrone, the author of the Hanley and Rivka Mysteries (published by Allium Press of Chicago), which are set in Chicago immediately after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and feature an Irish-American detective, Frank Hanley, and a young Jewish woman, Rivka Kelmansky.

In addition to her six novels, Brown has published widely in magazines and her stories have appeared frequently in such collections as O. Henry Prize Stories and Pushcart Prizes. One is included in “Best Short Stories of the Century,” edited by John Updike. She has been the recipient of an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and others. She was selected as one of Ms. Magazine’s 12 Women of the Year in 1984. Her novel “Civil Wars” won the Janet Kafka Prize for the best novel by an American woman in 1984, and her novel “Before and After” was adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson. After many years on the faculty of the University of Houston, she now teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lives in Hyde Park.

Pirrone is the nom de plume of Diane Piron-Gelman, the author of three novels: “No Less in Blood” (Five Star/Cengage, 2011), “Shall We Not Revenge” (a Kirkus Prize nominee), and “For You Were Strangers.” The latter two are the start of the Hanley and Rivka mysteries, and she is currently working on the next book in the series. A Chicago native, she is also an accomplished editor and audiobook narrator.