World Book Night gives exposure to Minnesota authors

Books by four Minnesota writers will be handed out for free Monday evening as part of the international World Book Night.

World Book Night was founded last year in the United Kingdom. This year organizers are also sending thousands of books to volunteers in the U.S., who will give them away at locations of their choosing. Organizers picked 30 books for distribution, including ones by current Minnesota residents Leif Enger and Kate DiCamillo, and former Minnesotans Tim O'Brien and Buzz Bissinger.

Enger, the author of "Peace Like a River," said he will stand on a street corner to give away copies of John Irving's book, "A Prayer for Owen Meaney."

"I think it would be great fun to be able to give that wonderful book to somebody who maybe just hasn't had a chance to read a novel in a while. They've gotten distracted. They're on the internet all the time. They're watching TV. Why not give somebody the warm shelter of a good book for a while?"

Enger says he was thrilled to learn his book would be given away for free. He said that means it may get into the hands of people who would otherwise never hear about the book.

"The idea that there are thousands of volunteers out there giving away your book to people who would otherwise probably never hear about it," Enger said. "You know that's one of those shameless fantasies you have when you're 16 and you've just thought about maybe writing a book someday. That's the kind of thing that comes into your mind. People giving your book to others saying 'read this.' What could be better?"

Authors agreed to give up royalties for World Book Night. Book sellers, publishers, and printers, among others, paid for production and shipping.

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