Bonnie Jo Campbell and Don DeGrazia

March 19, 2012

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Bonnie Jo Campbell

Chicago Public Library joins the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department as it presents the 16th Annual Story Week Festival of Writers: Surviving the American Dream. CPL hosts Bonnie Jo Campbell, the nationally acclaimed author of Once upon a River, who is joined by Don DeGrazia for a conversation.

Campbell's collection Women and Other Animals details the lives of extraordinary females in rural and small town Michigan, and it won the AWP prize for short fiction. Her story "The Smallest Man in the World" has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her novel Q Road investigates the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land. Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection American Salvage, which consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction.

Don De Grazia is a full-time fiction writing professor at Columbia College Chicago, where he also earned his B.A. and M.F.A. After completing his master's thesis, American Skin, De Grazia sent it off to London's prestigious publisher Jonathan Cape, who offered him a contract. Hailed as an American classic, the book was so highly acclaimed by critics that it caught the attention of publishers around the world, and in April 2000, American Skin was released in the U.S. by Scribner. It is now in its fourth printing and was recently anthologized in The Outlaw Bible of American Fiction. A member of the Screenwriters Guild of America, De Grazia is currently adapting the script for American Skin. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and other publications. He resides in Chicago, where he is at work on his second novel, Reel Shadows, a chapter of which appeared in the March 2009 issue of TriQuarterly. De Grazia is also the co-founder of "Come Home Chicago," a series that celebrates our city's unique storytelling tradition with readings and entertainment held at the legendary Underground Wonder Bar.

This event contains explicit language and adult themes.

Story Week Festival of Writers features some of the best, most diverse voices at work today in fiction, film, theater, art, music, and publishing. Other events from this festival recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:

2nd Story
Reading/Grad Open Mic Featuring Megan Stielstra
Bonnie Jo Campbell and Don DeGrazia
Bonnie Jo Campbell and Donna Seaman
Portraits of an American Dream: The Female in Contemporary Fiction
Full Time Fiction Writing Faculty Reading featuring Betty Shiflett
Beyond the Dream: What It Takes to Get Published
From Page to Stage: Scenes From Student Playwrights
Conversation with Playwright Young Jean Lee
Surviving the American Dream
Reading, Conversation, and Book Signing with John Sayles
Literary Rock & Roll: American Dreamers with Heidi W. Durrow, John Sayles, Patricia Ann McNair, musical guest Canasta
Chicago Classics

Recorded Monday, March 19, 2012 at the Harold Washington Library Center.