Book Recommendations From The Best Hoosier Authors

On October 13, the Indiana Authors Award celebrates its 10th anniversary at the Central Library. We asked a few past winners what they’re reading.

Adrian Matejka
Author of The Devil’s Garden and Map to the Stars, and Poet Laureate of Indiana
“I’m reading a tremendous graphic novel by the French writer and illustrator Youssef Daoudi called Monk! The book explores the music of the jazz musician Thelonious Monk through his lifelong friendship with a baroness, who was a patron of the bebop scene in New York in the 1950s. Daoudi does something I thought was impossible: He takes the singular, complicated jazz of Thelonious Monk and renders it into a story. I mean that literally: The words move like Monk’s music moves, full of improvisation, while the illustrations have their own wondrous rhythm.”

Barbara Shoup
Author of eight novels and executive director of the Indiana Writers Center
“Since we’re celebrating Indiana authors, I’d like to suggest Chris White’s recently released novel, The Life List of Adrian Mandrick. White views Mandrick’s crumbling marriage through the lens of his obsession with birdwatching. You don’t have to be a birdwatcher to appreciate the gorgeous descriptions of birds. And you can’t help feeling as obsessed as Adrian in his reckless determination to see a bird he’s almost (but not quite) sure he saw birdwatching with his mother when he was a child. I finished it, amazed that anyone had even thought of such a story.”

Michael Martone
Essayist whose works include Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List
The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, by Lewis Hyde, is a remarkable book—extended essay, anthropology, art history, sociology, spiritual, and inspirational—that examines how the artist and writer must negotiate making art with making money. Hyde uses fairy tales, myth, deep scholarship, and even Emily Post to make his provocative and useful points about the creative state. The Gift is part of a trilogy of books by Hyde that includes Trickster Makes this World and Common as Air, a book about copyright.”

Michael Shelden
Biographer who has authored books about George Orwell and Mark Twain
“My selection is The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words, edited by Barry Day. Chandler may be one of the most underrated American writers of the last 100 years. On the surface, he seemed in the 1930s to be just a wisecracking author of pulp fiction. But in his hands, the sordid world of crime was transformed into street poetry, a surprising hard-boiled lyricism. If you have any doubt of his genius, read this collection for a wonderful sample of how Chandler merged the world of Browning the poet with, as he joked, Browning ‘the automatic.’”