Flânerie—aimless walking through cities—is a hobby of Kathleen Rooney. Her second novel “Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk,” will be published next year by St. Martin’s Press. “I’m happy that this book has a flâneuse as its protagonist,” Rooney says. The author of multiple essay and poetry books is preparing, with her co-editor Eric Plattner, the first English edition of René Magritte’s “Selected Writings,” to be published in the United States and the United Kingdom this year. She is working on her third novel and teaches at DePaul University. Rooney is a co-founder of Poems While You Wait.
These days thriller writer Jay Bonansinga enjoys long lines of fans waiting for him to sign their books at Walker Stalker conferences around the nation for his collaboration with Robert Kirkman on a series of side-story novels in the “Walking Dead” franchise. Last year he made his first foray into young-adult writing with “Lucid,” featuring a teenage girl. This year he released his original psychological horror novel “Self Storage,” the first offering from his creative studio Magnetik Ink. Along with the many novels and novellas of his multi-decade career, he has written historical nonfiction, “The Sinking of the Eastland” and “Pinkerton’s War,” made films and videos and continues to teach.
A city as big as Chicago suits the virtuosic talent of Ladan Osman. The Somali-American poet relocated to Chicago six years ago “on a whim” and has since established herself as one of the premier voices in the local poetry scene, performing for the Dollhouse reading series, Book Expo and the Poetry Foundation, and teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and various Chicago public schools. Her book “The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony” won the Sillerman First Book Prize and plans for a new project titled “Refusing Eurydice” are in the works. With a global list of readings, teaching positions and collaborations that include Ghana, Kenya, France, Turkey and the UK, Chicago is lucky Osman has chosen to call the city her home.
After returning from a residency in Virginia, Jac Jemc is about to head to the Danish Centre for Writers and Translators in Viborg, Denmark. She’s delighted that her literary horror novel “The Grip of It” has been accepted by FSG Originals, for publication next spring. “It’s been exciting to try my hand at historical fiction for the project after that. It’s lovely to have a whole new time period and location to mine for imagery and language.” Her first novel, “My Only Wife,” was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. “A Different Bed Every Time” was named one of Amazon’s Best Story Collections of 2014. Web nonfiction editor for Hobart, Jemc recently completed a stint as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame and currently teaches at Northeastern Illinois University and StoryStudio Chicago.
Historian and journalist Rick Perlstein wrote in “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan” that myopic pundits “frequently fail to notice the very cultural ground shifting beneath their feet.” Far from myopic, Perlstein is sharply documenting this election through essays and journalism in The Nation, Salon, the Washington Spectator and elsewhere. If Trump wins the presidency, he observes, we’ll have elected an aspiring dictator. If he loses we’ll be left with followers, some violent, who think their American birthright has been stolen. His other acclaimed books about the rise of the right wing are “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus,” and “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.”
Known for her deeply researched books, Gioia Diliberto re-imagines the lives of historic women. Apart from last year’s biography of designer Diane von Furstenberg, the subjects in her two novels and four nonfiction books came of age before second-wave feminism, when women had little status and few opportunities. Diliberto says, “How women negotiated the world, and how some became world famous with so much against them, has always fascinated me. These are the stories I’ve chosen to tell.” From Jane Addams to Coco Chanel, Hadley Richardson to Virginie Gautreau, Diliberto writes the voices of women who “symbolize the spirit of their time.” She is currently at work on her seventh title.
Learning Braille and beep baseball for the blind absorbed Rachel DeWoskin as she worked on her novel “Blind,” a Junior Library Guild Selection of 2015. “It was thrilling to experience multiple ways to imagine the world via senses other than my sight (thanks to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and some fabulous teenagers who schooled me.)” The author of the memoir “Foreign Babes in Beijing,” and the novels “Big Girl Small” and “Repeat After Me,” DeWoskin is now completing a novel called “Second Circus,” about a young Jewish woman who escapes Poland for Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1940. With her husband, Zayd Dohrn, she is co-writing a television series for BBC America, based on her memoir. She also teaches at the University of Chicago.
Nate Marshall’s poems are one-hundred percent Chicago: its beauty, its struggles, its history and its future. To say that Marshall, a Cave Canem Fellow and winner of the NAACP’s Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, is active in Chicago’s poetry scene is an understatement. To date, the poet has co-founded the Dark Noise collective, co-edited “The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop,” was awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, the Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship for Poetry and has been featured on HBO’s “Brave New Voices.” His first book, “Wild Hundreds,” won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. Marshall teaches at Wabash College.
Two years ago, when we last profiled her, Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel “Gone Girl” was about to graduate from international literary sensation (published in forty-one languages, more than two-million copies in print, more than a hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list) to a second life on the silver screen. The film—directed by David Fincher, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike and with a screenplay by Flynn herself—hit theaters a few months later and was a solid hit, grossing over $368 million. In the wake of this success, Flynn has been focusing her energies on screenwriting. In 2014, she was announced as the writer of an HBO drama series, “Utopia,” directed and executive-produced by Fincher; and though a year later that project was apparently shelved, she rebounded quickly, signing on to script a heist thriller for “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen. Last year she published a standalone release of her Edgar Award-winning short story, “The Grownup.” It may be a long wait for something more substantial. According to her website, “In theory she is working on her next novel. In reality she is possibly playing Ms. Pac-Man in her basement lair.”
This past year, David Lazar received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Nonfiction and published two books. “After Montaigne,” an anthology published by University of Georgia Press, co-edited with Patrick Madden, was named Outstanding Book of the Year in Essay/Creative Nonfiction by Independent Publisher. His book of prose poems, ”Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy,” was published by Etruscan Press. Lazar also started editing the first full-length book imprint devoted to the essay, “21st Century Essays,” with Ohio State University Press. He continues to edit Hotel Amerika, now in its fifteenth year, and is a professor at Columbia College Chicago. Slated for release with University of Nebraska Press are “I’ll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms” in 2017 and “Characters” in 2018.
Toni Nealie is the Literary Editor of Newcity and the author of the essay collection “The Miles Between Me.” A Pushcart Prize nominee, her essays have appeared in Guernica Magazine, Rust Belt: Chicago, The Rumpus, The Offing, Essay Daily, Chicago Quarterly Review, Hobart, Entropy and elsewhere. She worked in magazine journalism, politics and PR in her native New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore and now edits, writes and teaches in Chicago. Find her at toninealie.com and on Twitter @tnealie. She can be reached at email@example.com.