Three Pulitzer Prize winners are among the five authors who will appear – in person – in the 25th season of Pen Pals, the annual lecture series and fundraiser for the Hennepin County Library system. All events will take place at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
For the first two authors, you’ll have the option to watch from home on Zoom.
Anthony Doerr won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for “All the Light We Cannot See.” His latest, “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” is due out in September. It tells the story of five children, all connected by a single worn (very worn?) copy of a 2,000-year-old Greek text. Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 11 a.m.
Viet Than Nguyen won the 2016 Pulitzer for his debut novel “The Sympathizer.” He also won a Dayton Literary Peace Prize. In 2017, he received a MacArthur “Genius” grant. The story of “The Sympathizer” continues in “The Committed,” published in March. Monday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 11 a.m.
Ticketholders for Doerr and Nguyen will also receive a link to a Zoom livestream before each event and an on-demand recording viewable for 72 hours after each event.
Brit Bennett was nominated for a National Book Award for “The Vanishing Half,” one of the most praised books of 2020. The National Book Foundation named her a 5 Under 35 honoree for her 2016 debut novel, “The Mothers.” Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m.
Richard Powers won the 2019 Pulitzer for his most recent book, “The Overstory,” which also won a National Book Award. A MacArthur fellow, Powers is the author of 13 novels. His next, “Bewilderment,” is due out in Sept. 2021. It follows an astrobiologist searching for life among the stars while raising his 9-year-old son. Thursday, Apr. 28, at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, Apr. 29, at 11 a.m.
Emily St. John Mandel told the story of a devastating pandemic in her bestselling novel, “Station Eleven,” which was published in 2014. It was a National Book Award finalist and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her latest, “The Glass Hotel,” came out in March 2020 and was shortlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary honor. Tuesday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, May 18, at 11 a.m.
Season subscriptions (starting at $200) go on sale today at 11 a.m. Subscribe by phone at 612-543-8112 or online. Season subscribers save $25. Subscribe by June 30 and receive a copy of Richard Powers’ “Bewilderment” when it releases in September. Individual tickets ($45/55) on-sale date TBA.
If you’re wondering why Pen Pals costs money when most other author series are free, here’s why: Proceeds from the series benefit the library system. Also, this is not a series where authors stand and read from their books. They talk about their lives, how and why they write, and the stories behind their books. We’ve never seen a dud Pen Pals lecture. Pen Pals is the longest-running literary series in the Twin Cities, and not because people leave disappointed.
Movie theater news (and blues)
If you love the historic Heights, Grandview and Riverview movie theaters and the small but mighty Trylon, you’re in luck. The Heights in Columbia Heights and the Trylon in Longfellow have reopened, as has the Grandview in St. Paul, and the Riverview in south Minneapolis will follow on May 28, at first with new releases (and higher ticket prices). The Highland in St. Paul is now open seven days a week.
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad, as reported last week by Axios Twin Cities: The Uptown’s landlord has filed to evict its operator, Landmark Theaters, for nonpayment of rent. The Edina 4, also operated by Landmark, will not reopen. Nor will the second-run Hopkins 6, the legendary let’s-pile-in-the-car-and-see-a-movie-for-cheap theater.
The Uptown has historic designation, so we’ll wait to see what happens with that. The Hopkins hurts. The Edina really hurts. It’s been a 50th and France fixture for almost 90 years.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
V Now through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 27: MSP Film Society: MSPIFF Best of Fest Encores. Did you miss this year’s MSPIFF? Or were you waiting to see what everyone else thought was most worth seeing? Either way, you have a brief window to cram in as many Best of Fest on-demand screenings as you can between now and Thursday night. These include the audience favorites, award winners, and returning festival gems MSP Film doesn’t think you should miss.
A few examples: “After Antarctica,” about Will Steger; the made-in-Angola “Air Conditioner”; Burhan Qurbani’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz” remake; “Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Water,” a film about Jones’s ground-breaking ballet; the made-with-love film about Minnesota professional wrestler Baron von Raschke, aka “The Claw”; “The Co-op Wars”; “Hollywood Fringe,” a quirky charmer by local filmmakers Megan Huber and Wyatt McDill; “Mogul Mowgli,” in which Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) plays a rapper with a health problem (yes, really); and the absolutely-do-not-miss-this “Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Questlove’s thrilling documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival, a massive Black concert series held in 1969, the same summer as Woodstock. FMI including links to trailers and ticketing ($13/10). Note: “Summer of Soul” is $20 and available for the shortest time, so jump on that.
V and L: Tonight (Tuesday, May 25), 7:30 p.m.: Northrop: In Concert: University Organist Dean Billmeyer. Watch live and in person tonight, or at home through next Monday, May 31. If you’re not yet ready for an indoor concert setting, Northrop understands. If you are ready but you’re on the fence – because, you know, getting dressed and going out, and parking, and all that – remember we’re talking about Northrop’s mighty Aeolian Skinner pipe organ, a recently restored instrument of a zillion pipes and a jet-engine-sized blower, whose sounds you will feel in your bones. There’s no instrument as aggressively in-person as a pipe organ. The physical sensation of live music is a big part of what we’ve all been missing in the past 14 (going on 15) months. Billmeyer will play music by Bach, Barber, William Grant Still and more, showing off the organ’s capabilities (and his own). FMI and tickets ($20-$12).
V Tonight (Tuesday, May 25), 9 p.m., on TPT 2: “Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd.” A year ago today, George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police was captured by a Black teenager with a cellphone. In the five days between Floyd’s death and the announcement of charges filed against the four police officers, director Cy Dodson, who lives in the neighborhood where Floyd was killed, took out his camera and filmed what he saw. Watch tonight at 9 p.m. on TPT 2 or the PBS Video app. At 9:30 p.m., immediately following this broadcast, TPT 2 will rebroadcast the June 2020 PBS Newshour special, “Race Matters: America After George Floyd.” And immediately after that, it will rebroadcast JD Steele’s 18-minute documentary about systemic racism, “Listen! Please!”
V Tuesday, June 1, 7 pm.: Magers & Quinn: Benjamin Percy “The Ninth Metal” book launch, in conversation with Peter Geye. When it comes to Benjamin Percy’s writing, resistance is futile. Do you like literary fiction? He’s written that and won prizes. What about a werewolf novel and apocalyptic fiction? Those, too. Comic books? Yes, including Wolverine, X-Force and Green Arrow. And Marvel’s first podcast. And a book about how to write a thrilling book.
Percy’s latest is “The Ninth Metal,” Book I of his new three-part sci-fi Comet Cycle, which has been optioned for the screen by the Russo Brothers (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War”). Geye is the award-winning author of “Wintering,” “The Lighthouse Road” and “Safe from the Sea.” Registration required, with three ways to join: free, for $5 and with book purchase.