After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Des Moines Public Library’s annual Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD) speaker series returns in 2021 for a virtual season on Zoom.
The 2021 AViD lineup features six critically acclaimed and best-selling authors, including multiple National Book Award finalists, a Carnegie Medal for Excellence winner, an NAACP Image Award and Women’s Prize for Fiction winner, Oprah’s Book Club authors, and the best-selling “Queen of Beach Reads.” See the full lineup below.
The 2021 season of AViD is sponsored by the Des Moines Public Library Foundation with support from these generous donors: Nationwide Foundation, Union Pacific Foundation, Kelly and Brad Edmister, Principal, Humanities Iowa and the National Endownment for the Humanities, Mary K. and Daniel M. Kelly Family Foundation, Karen Shaff and Steven Jayne, Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey, Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation, Dr. Katherine and Andrew Hauser, Douglas and Deborah West, Cynthia O’Brien and Michael Fitzpatrick, Mary M. Riche, Shelley and Martin Brody, Dawn Taylor, Judy Blank, Jann Freed and John Fisher, Barbara and Jon Yankey, and The Des Moines Register (in-kind) and Iowa Public Radio (in-kind).
Thursday, January 21, 7:00 PM, Zoom
English journalist and author Adam Higginbotham released his debut book, the nonfiction bestseller, “Midnight in Chernobyl,” in 2019. The book earned Higginbotham the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Time Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, and others.
After reporting on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for more than a decade, Higginbotham delivered a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth obscured the true story of one of the 20th century’s greatest disasters. The book draws from hundreds of hours of interviews and letters, plus unpublished memoirs and documents from recently declassified archives to present a harrowing narrative that brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it.
Wednesday, February 24, 7:00 PM, Zoom
Award-winning journalist and author Robert Kolker is the best-selling author of Lost Girls (2013), named one of the New York Times’s 100 Notable Books and one of Slate’s best nonfiction books of the quarter century. His follow-up, 2020’s Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, tells the tragic, compelling story of the Galvin family, which saw six of 12 children diagnosed with schizophrenia. The mystery behind how so many members of one family could be diagnosed led to them being one of the first families ever studied by the National Institute of Mental Health.
The book became an instant No. 1 New York Times best-seller and chosen as a Oprah's Book Club selection. The book has received universal critical acclaim, and named a Top Ten Book of 2020 by the New York Times, People, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Slate, and the Boston Globe.
Saturday, March 27, 3:00 PM, Zoom
Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, including her most recent book, 2018's bestseller An American Marriage. The novel, which explores the dissolution of a middle-class marriage in the aftermath of an arrest and wrongful conviction of an African American husband, was an Oprah’s Book Club pick and appeared on President Barack Obama’s year-end reading roundup. It was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), Aspen Words Prize, and an NAACP Image Award, and it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. With nearly a million copies in print domestically, it has been published in more than two dozen countries. After its publication, Essence magazine called Jones, "one of the most important voices of her generation."
Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 PM, Zoom
Hanif Abdurraqib is an award-winning poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in 2017, and his second nonfiction book, Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest, was published in 2019. Both received wide critical acclaim, being named to several “best of the year” lists, including that of Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, GQ, Paste, Pitchfork, and more. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in September 2019.
His newest book, being released in March 2021, is titled A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. In the book, Hanif reflects on Black performance and performers and how they are inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. From major figures such as Merry Clayton, Jacqueline Baker, and Beyoncé to more common examples like a dance marathon, or “the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt,” Abdurraqib writes how these moments have layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, politics, and his own personal life journey.
Tuesday, May 11, 7:00 PM, Zoom
Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, a New York Times bestseller, and Punching the Air with co-author and Exonerated Five member, Yusef Salaam. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children.
Her 2018 novel, Pride, is a modern, timely retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. Set in Bushwick, a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, the book explores the life of Afro-Latino girl Zuri Benitez. As her neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying, her life is turned upside down when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street. The novel balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the magic of first love.
Wednesday, June 9, 7:00 PM, Zoom
Elin Hilderbrand is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and the Iowa Writers Workshop. She has become known as “The Queen of Beach Reads,” having written more than 20 novels, including romance, murder mysteries, historical fiction, and more. She’s perhaps most well-known for her best-selling “Summer Books,” including Summer of ’69, The Identicals, and The Perfect Couple. Her newest book, Golden Girl, is set to come out in June. Other series include The Winter Street Series and the recently concluded Paradise trilogy.
Her most recent mega-bestseller, 28 Summers, tells the story of a love affair spanning several decades between a woman, Mallory, and a man, Jake, that perseveres through marriage, children, and Jake’s wife’s rise to presidential hopeful. As Mallory is on her deathbed, her son uncovers the truth of his mother’s one-weekend-per-year affair, and everyone learns the way the relationship complicates and enriches their lives.
AViD Author Books
- The Empress of Rome Saga
- The Borgia Chronicles
- Midnight in Chernobyl (2019)
- Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family (2020)
- Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery (2013)
- A Fortune for Your Disaster: Poems (2019)
- Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest (2019)
- They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us (2017)
- Punching the Air (2020)
- Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America (2019)
- My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich (2019)
- Pride (2018)
- American Street (2017)
- 28 Summers (2020)
- Summer of '69 (2019)
- The Identicals (2017)
- Here's To Us (2016)
- The Rumor (2015)
- The Matchmaker (2014)
- The Tailgate: An Original Short Story (2014)
- Beautiful Day (2013)
- Summerland (2012)
- Silver Girl (2011)
- The Island (2010)
- Barefoot (2007)
- The Love Season (2006)
- The Blue Bistro (2005)
- Summer People (2003)
- Nantucket Nights (2002)
- The Beach Club (2000)
- Nantucket Books
- Paradise Series
- Winter Street Series
Previous 2020-21 AViD Authors
Wednesday, December 9
Kate Quinn is a New York Times bestselling historical fiction author. She’s written several novels, including The Huntress, which was published in 2019, and The Empress of Rome series. Her 2017 novel, The Alice Network, was a runaway bestseller, and one of the first Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine book club selections. The Alice Network the third-most requested novel at the Des Moines Public Library in 2019.