Talking Volumes 2022 season guide

Talking Volumes 2022 season
The 2022 season of Talking Volumes features Karen Armstrong, Celeste Ng, Dani Shapiro and Ross Gay.
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Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune are proud to announce the 23rd season of Talking Volumes. Talking Volumes is an event discussion series with notable authors from across the world, hosted by award-winning journalist and MPR News host Kerri Miller. The discussions return to the cozy confines of the Fitzgerald Theater this fall with four great authors. 

Tickets are on sale now. All tickets are $30 for the general public and $28 for MPR members and Star Tribune subscribers, and you can save more when purchasing tickets for the whole season. Find more information at mprevents.org.

Join us for the following author interviews:

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., Karen Armstrong will be discussing her new book “Sacred Nature: Restoring Our Ancient Bond with the Natural World.” In this short but deeply powerful book, Armstrong resacralizes nature for modern times. Drawing on her vast knowledge of the world’s religious traditions, she vividly describes nature’s central place in spirituality across the centuries. In bringing this age-old wisdom to life, Armstrong shows modern readers how to rediscover nature’s potency and form a connection to something greater than ourselves.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m., Celeste Ng will discuss “Our Missing Hearts,” this new novel from the bestselling author of “Little Fires Everywhere” is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power — and limitations — of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.

On Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m., Dani Shapiro will join Kerri to talk about her new novel “Signal Fires,” a riveting, emotional, impossible to put down, literary and commercial tour de force, and a work of haunting beauty and complexity by a master storyteller at the height of her powers.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m., Ross Gay will share “Inciting Joy,” his new collection of essays, with us. In these gorgeously written and timely pieces, Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships. Throughout “Inciting Joy,” he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also, how we expand it. In an era when divisive voices take up so much air space, “Inciting Joy” offers a vital alternative: What might be possible if we turn our attention to what brings us together, to what we love? Full of energy, curiosity, and compassion, “Inciting Joy” is essential reading from one of our most brilliant writers.

About the authors

An author profile picture next to the book cover.
Karen Armstrong is the author of "Sacred Nature: Restoring Our Ancient Bond with the Natural World."
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Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religious affairs, including “The Case for God,” “A History of God,” “The Battle for God,” “Holy War”, “Islam,” “Buddha,” and “The Great Transformation,” as well as a memoir, “The Spiral Staircase.” Her work has been translated into 45 languages. In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public, and crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

From the publisher:

A profound exploration of the spiritual power of nature—and an urgent call to reclaim that power in everyday life. 
 
Since the beginning of time, humankind has looked upon nature and seen the divine. In the writings of the great thinkers across religions, the natural world inspires everything from fear, to awe, to tranquil contemplation; God, or however one defined the sublime, was present in everything. Yet today, even as we admire a tree or take in a striking landscape, we rarely see nature as sacred.

In this short but deeply powerful book, the best-selling historian of religion Karen Armstrong resacralizes nature for modern times. Drawing on her vast knowledge of the world’s religious traditions, she vividly describes nature’s central place in spirituality across the centuries. In bringing this age-old wisdom to life, Armstrong shows modern readers how to rediscover nature’s potency and form a connection to something greater than ourselves.

An author profile picture next to the book cover.
Celeste Ng is the author of "Our Missing Hearts."
Courtesy images

Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is the number one New York Times bestselling author of “Everything I Never Told You” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” Her third novel, “Our Missing Hearts,” will be published in October 2022. Ng is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been published in over 30 languages.

From the publisher:

From the number one bestselling author of “Little Fires Everywhere,” a deeply suspenseful and heartrending novel about the unbreakable love between a mother and child in a society consumed by fear. 

Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic — including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was 9 years old.

Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change. 

“Our Missing Hearts” is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power — and limitations — of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact. 

A book cover and a picture of the author.
Dani Shapiro is the author of "Signal Fires."
Courtesy images

Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro is a best-selling novelist and memoirist and host of the podcast “Family Secrets” (now in its sixth season). Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue, and Time. She has taught at Columbia and New York University and is the co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference. She lives in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

From the publisher:

“Signal Fires” opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken.

On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive — a young couple expecting a baby boy — it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans’ brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, now retired and struggling with his wife’s decline, past events come hurtling back in ways no one could ever have foreseen.

In Dani Shapiro’s first work of fiction in fifteen years, she returns to the form that launched her career, with a riveting, deeply felt novel that examines the ties that bind families together — and the secrets that can break them apart. “Signal Fires” is a work of haunting beauty by a masterly storyteller.

A book cover and a picture of the author.
Ross Gay is the author of "Inciting Joy."
Courtesy Images

Ross Gay

Ross Gay is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Book of Delights: Essays” and four books of poetry. His “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award; and “Be Holding” won the 2021 PEN America Jean Stein Book Award. He is a founding board member of the non-profit Bloomington Community Orchard, a free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

From the publisher:

An intimate and electrifying collection of essays from the New York Times bestselling author of “The Book of Delights.”

In these gorgeously written and timely pieces, prize-winning poet and author Ross Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships. Throughout “Inciting Joy,” he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also, crucially, how we expand it. 

In “We Kin” he thinks about the garden (especially around August, when the zucchini and tomatoes come on) as a laboratory of mutual aid; in “Share Your Bucket” he explores skateboarding’s reclamation of public space; he considers the costs of masculinity in “Grief Suite”; and in “Through My Tears I Saw,” he recognizes what was healed in caring for his father as he was dying.

In an era when divisive voices take up so much air space, “Inciting Joy” offers a vital alternative: What might be possible if we turn our attention to what brings us together, to what we love? Full of energy, curiosity, and compassion, “Inciting Joy” is essential reading from one of our most brilliant writers.