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Southern Voices Guests 2014

Ann Patchett

Friday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
The Library Theatre

Reception follows Southern Voices warmly welcomes best-selling novelist Ann Patchett to our festival. After the presentation, we invite you to join Ms. Patchett on the Library Plaza for a book signing and reception. Books will be available for purchase.

Ann Patchett is a celebrated author, devoted reader and champion of literary culture. She has written nine books including The Patron Saint of Liars, State of Wonder and the Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award Winner, Bel Canto.

In 2011, when the last of her hometown of Nashville’s independent bookstores closed, Ms. Patchett declared, “I have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.” In November of that year, she opened Parnassus Books, a new refuge for the written word in the old “Athens of the South.”

TIME magazine named Ann Patchett one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012 for her efforts on behalf of the literary community.

Along with being a prized novelist, Ms. Patchett is a frequent contributor to many publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, and has served on the board of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. She also writes nonfiction. The true story of her friendship with author and childhood cancer survivor Lucy Grealy, Truth & Beauty, won the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction in 2004. Additionally, the world-renowned Lyric Opera Company of Chicago has commissioned a production based on her novel, Bel Canto, to premiere in 2014.

Most recently, Ms. Patchett released a portrait of her life, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Examining her deepest commitments such as writing, friends, family, dogs, books and her husband, the book gives us a glimpse into the very real world of the author. From stories of a failed marriage to a successful bookstore, Ann Patchett shares the experiences that shaped her. The Hoover Public Library is honored to welcome back Southern Voices alumna Ann Patchett. We look forward to hearing more about the life and work of this literary icon.

Claire Cook

Claire Cook penned her first novel in her minivan at age 45. At 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the film adaptation of her second novel, Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. She is now the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of ten novels, including Wallflower in Bloom and Time Flies. She is a frequent speaker at literary festivals and her books have been translated into 14 languages. Ms. Cook has been heralded as one of the “sassiest and funniest creators of women’s fiction.” She currently divides her time between Atlanta and Boston, and is hard at work turning Must Love Dogs into a five-book series.

Therese Anne Fowler

Therese Anne Fowler grew up in the Midwest, but migrated to North Carolina in 1995 to pursue a B.A. in sociology and cultural anthropology from North Carolina State University. She followed that with an MFA in creative writing, a position teaching creative writing to undergraduates and the publication of four novels. Her most recent book, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, is a poignant tale of one of Alabama’s most famous women. Named to The New York Times best-sellers list and recommended by O Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and People, Z captures both the animated and insecure side of Zelda Fitzgerald, as well as the grandeur and franticness of the Jazz Age.

Susan Gregg Gilmore

Susan Gregg Gilmore’s 2008 debut novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen was called a “stand-out coming of age novel” by NPR’s Alan Cheuse and was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) 2009 Book Award Nominee. Born in Nashville, Ms. Gilmore is a longtime lover of the written word. She began her writing career as a reporter for her college paper at the University of Virginia and has worked for several papers, including the Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor. Since the success of her first novel, she has penned two additional books, including The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and The Funeral Dress.

Bill Roorbach

Bill Roorbach is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Flannery O’Connor Prize and O. Henry Prize winner Big Bend, Into Woods and Temple Stream. His latest novel, Life Among Giants, begins in 1970 when a high school football star’s parents are murdered. What ensues is a plot-twisting narrative mixed with rich characterization. Mr. Roorbach’s short fiction has appeared in Harper’s, The Atlantic and Playboy. A former cake judge on The Food Network and a former professor at Columbia University, Ohio State, Holy Cross and Colby College, Bill now writes full time from his home in Maine.

John Searles

John Searles is an editor-at-large for Cosmopolitan, a literary commentator for the Today Show and a novelist. His most recent novel, Help for the Haunted, is the haunting tale of an unusual family, an unspeakable tragedy and a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery. Born and raised in Monroe, Connecticut, this son of a truck driver and stay-at-home mom is known for his early championing of books such as The Help, Water for Elephants and The Lovely Bones. His essays have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. TIME magazine has named Mr. Searles, who now lives in New York, as a “Person to Watch.”

Jeffrey Small

Jeffrey Small is the author of two novels. His debut, the best-selling thriller Breath of God, was hailed as “visionary fiction” by Library Journal and won the 2012 Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for fiction. His second novel, The Jericho Deception, received similar acclaim and won the Gold Medal for Best Thriller/Suspense by the IPPY Book Awards. In addition to his work as a novelist, Mr. Small is a popular blogger on the Huffington Post, an acclaimed speaker on religion and spirituality and holds degrees from Yale, Harvard and Oxford Universities. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife and daughter and enjoys hiking, yoga and travel to exotic locales.

Steve Yarbrough

Steve Yarbrough has been called “wickedly observant, funny, cynical and evocative” by John Grisham. He is the author of nine books including Safe from the Neighbors, The End of California and Prisoners of War, which was a finalist for the 2005 PEN/Faulkner Award. His latest novel, The Realm of Last Chances, makes a departure from his usual Deep South setting, creating a story of a reinvented marriage in a small Northeastern town.

The son of Mississippi Delta farmers, Steve is currently a professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson in Boston. He currently lives in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

Jerry Siegel

Artist Reception
Tuesday, Feb. 18
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Friends Gallery - Theatre Level
Free and open to the public
Artwork on display through March

Photographer Jerry Siegel documents the Black Belt region of the American South with an unflinching gaze. From decaying urban areas to backwater diners and pool halls, Siegel exposes the cultural values of a region characterized by extreme poverty, rural exodus and community pride. His determined eye reveals unexpected depths in his subjects, inviting viewers to “come and set a spell” in the company of his images. With compassion and without haste, he captures the essence and extremes of the American South.

Jerry Siegel is an artist who observes, seeing the ordinary and revealing what makes it special – whether shooting with his 8x10 Deardorff and working out all the details of an image or with his digital cameras that afford him a freer and more intuitive process. The things we look right past in our hurried, daily routine, Siegel captures through the lens of his camera.

Siegel began his education at the University of South Alabama in Mobile and continued at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Primarily influenced by photographers such as Diane Arbus, Roy DeCarava and Cartier-Bresson, he draws inspiration from painters, as well.

At The Maine Photographic Workshops in July of 1997, renowned master photographer Arnold Newman said of Siegel’s work, “…this is how it should be done. This is not only the work of a professional, but the work of an artist.”
Artist Statement:

“My love of the South, my roots, the people I have known and their stories have drawn me to capture the essence of the region and the dwindling Southern town. What I have sought to convey is the reality as I see it, and the emotions that accompany it.”

Siegel has also been featured in Garden & Gun magazine for his work capturing Southern artists. His book Facing South: Portraits of Southern Artists, published by the University of Alabama Press, features 100 people who have made significant contributions to Southern art of every genre.