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70 Additional Authors with Chicago Ties to Convene at Awards Dinner

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library will present the annual Carl Sandburg Literary Awards to best-selling authors Erik Larson (Devil in the White City, Dead Wake) for non-fiction and Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof) for fiction Wednesday, Oct. 26 at The Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The 21st Century Award, presented to a Chicago-based emerging author, will be presented to short story writer Amina Gautier (At Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, The Loss of All Lost Things.) Bill Kurtis and Scott Simon return as emcee and conversation moderator, respectively.

One of the highlights of the annual benefit is that each guest has the opportunity to engage in dinner table conversation with an esteemed author with ties to Chicago.  This year, guests will be seated with one of more than 70 notable authors including five past recipients of the 21st Century Award: Blue Balliett, Elizabeth Crane, Eric Charles May, Nami Mun and Christine Sneed.  Additional authors include:

•        Novelist James Atlas
•        Law professor Bernadett Atuahene, author of a new book on South Africa
•        Former Chicago Bear and leadership expert Desmond Clark
•        Acclaimed kitchen designer Mick De Giulio
•        Fiction writer and poet Stuart Dybek and his son, novelist Nick Dybek
•        Barbeque chef Meathead Goldwyn
•        Fitness consultant (with clients including Michael Jordan) Tim Grover
•        Journalist and radio personality Dave Hoekstra
•        Grammy Award-winning poet, spoken word artist, recording artist and author J. Ivy
•        Leadership expert Susan Smith Kuczmarski
•        Wellness expert Dr. Alex Lickerman
•        WBEZ correspondent Natalie Moore, author of a new book about Chicago’s south side
•        Sports writer Jeannie Morris, and her daughter, travel writer Holly Morris
•        Leadership expert Julia Tang Peters
•        Marc and Maureen Schulman of Eli’s Cheesecake
•        Classical music expert and conductor Scott Speck
•        Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg
•        Journalist and biographer Mike Thomas
•        Poet Angela Narciso Torres
•        Pulitzer Prize–winning religion writer Garry Wills
•        Blue Man Group co-founder and Grammy Award-winner Chris Wink
•        Architecture writer John Zukowsky

“At no other event do guests have the opportunity to have intimate discussions with such a diverse and impressive group of authors,” said Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin.  “Year after year, I hear from so many of our attendees that they met an author at their table that they may not previously have been familiar with, but who is now one of their favorites.”

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner is a fundraising event for the Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library. The event will be produced by Foundation Director Donna La Pietra and hosted by Bill Kurtis.  The dinner is co-chaired by Chicago Public Library Foundation Board Member David Casper, President & CEO of BMO Harris Bank and Wendy Berger, Principal of WBS Equities. The evening culminates in an intimate onstage conversation with the two Sandburg Award-honorees moderated by author and National Public Radio host Scott Simon.

“Few authors are as adept at mesmerizing readers as Erik Larson and Scott Turow,” remarked Casper.  “Erik Larson has a singular talent for recounting history in a way that makes book lovers feel as though they are reading a riveting thriller.  Scott Turow, while best known for his compelling legal page-turners, has also written insightful autobiographical works. We are proud to honor these two literary masters.”

“Amina Gautier’s stories are quiet and emotionally stirring jewels portraying urban poverty in a way that always leave me with new insights,” added Berger.  “Her body of work is already impressive, and I believe that in the future, her stories will come to be seen as a lasting portrait of our most challenged communities at this time.”

The Carl Sandburg Literary Award celebrates a writer’s collective body of work. Many of the world’s most important authors have been recognized with the prize, which is regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes. The annual celebration is one of the highlights of Chicago’s social calendar, hailed as “the smartest event in Chicago” by Crain’s Chicago Business and attracts nearly 800 members of Chicago’s civic and cultural communities.

Past winners of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award are Stephen Sondheim, Alice Walker, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mavis Staples, Larry McMurtry, Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe and Salman Rushdie.

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner raises funds to support the learning initiatives of Chicago Public Library including Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge, One Book, One Chicago, YOUmedia, Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigators.   The Sandburg Dinner is presented annually by the Chicago Public Library Foundation in partnership with Chicago Public Library.  The Foundation is led by Board Chair Bob Wislow of CBRE Chicago and Library Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin.   The Chicago Public Library Board is chaired by Linda Johnson Rice and Chicago’s 80 branch system is led by Commissioner Brian Bannon. Each year, for the past three years, the event has raised more than $1.5 million for innovative services for children, teens, adults and families at the library.

“Each year, the Chicago Public Library’s patrons benefit immeasurably from the business and philanthropic community’s support of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, which funds so many of the remarkable learning programs that make our library system one of the most-acclaimed in the world,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon.  “Time and again, we have seen that the innovative programs – that are all available for free at Chicago Public Library – allow Chicagoans to learn new skills, build economic vitality, or collaborate with their community. We are grateful to the Foundation’s donors, board and staff for their tireless efforts to make these opportunities available to our patrons.”

Sponsorship packages for tables of eight guests and a celebrated author are available at $50,000, $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 levels. Individual tickets are $1,000 and $2,500. Reservations are strictly limited. For information or to purchase tickets, tables or sponsorships, visit cplfoundation.org or contact Ashlee Estabrook at the Chicago Public Library Foundation at (312) 201-9830 x 25 or email aestabrook@cplfoundation.org.

BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2016 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner.  Lead sponsors include Rolex, Advanced Resources and the Zell Family.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library.  Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides on-going funding innovative programs and collections that inspire curiosity, including the Summer Learning Challenge, Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigators, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago.  In the past 30 years, the Foundation has provided nearly $80 million in support to the Chicago Public Library.

Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit chipublib.org.

About the Honorees
Erik Larson is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, most recently Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, which hit #1 on the Times list soon after launch. His previous book was In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which also hit #1 and remained on New York Times bestsellers list for 35 weeks. As a paperback, Beasts remained on the list for 53 weeks, and spent 15 of them in the #1 spot. Movie rights were optioned by Universal Studios and Tom Hanks’ Playtone. Larson’s book The Devil in the White City stayed on the Times‘ hardcover and paperback lists for a combined total of more than five years. It won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was a finalist for a National Book Award; the option to make a movie of the book was acquired in November 2010 by Leonardo DiCaprio. In August, 2015, DiCaprio formed a new alliance to make the film, in which Martin Scorsese will direct.

Scott Turow is a writer and attorney who lives and works in the Chicago area.  He is the author of ten best-selling works of fiction:  Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof, Pleading Guilty, The Laws of Our Fathers, Personal Injuries, Reversible Errors, and Ordinary Heroes.  A novella, Limitations, was published following its serialization in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.  Innocent, a sequel to Presumed Innocent, was published in May, 2010.  His most recent novel, “Identical,” was published in October 2013. He has also written two non-fiction books, One L about his experience as a law student, and Ultimate Punishment, a reflection on the death penalty.  His books have won a number of literary awards, including the Heartland Prize in 2003 and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 2004 for Ultimate Punishment. Additionally, he performs with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a musical group of best-selling authors raising funds for various literacy charities. As band member Dave Barry puts it: “We play music about as well as Metallica writes novels.”

Amina Gautier, PhD., is the author of three award-winning short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, The First Horizon Award, and the Erik Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award. Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Book Award and a USA Best Book Award. The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction. Gautier’s stories have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Agni, Callaloo, Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, and StoryQuarterly. For her individual short stories, Gautier has been the recipient of the Crazyhorse Prize, the Danahy Fiction Prize, the Jack Dyer Prize, the William Richey Prize, the Schlafly Microfiction Award, and the Lamar York Prize in Fiction.

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