Pen Pals lectures coming soon

Series is a fundraiser for Friends of Hennepin County Libraries


Sun Intern

A cartoonist, French culture expert and crime fiction author are among the writers set to appear for The Friends of Hennepin County Library’s 2012-13 Pen Pals lecture series.

Entering its 16th season, the series is the longest running literary series in the Twin Cities. It draws sold out crowds each year.

This year’s guests: Salman Rushdie, Alice Kaplan, Roz Chast, Dennis Lehane, and Armistead Maupin.

“We were really looking for a variety of genres and interests when choosing the writers,” said Rachel Fulkerson, Program Director of Friends of HCL. “Diversity was what we were going for, as well as finding authors with newer books.”

Proceeds from the program benefit Friends of Hennepin County Library, a nonprofit organization that provides support to the library system. The Friends groups work directly with the libraries to coordinate events as well as provide monetary support.

“The event is about raising both awareness and support for our organization and the libraries,” Fulkerson said. She estimated several hundred thousand dollars is raised each series.

The series focuses on the entire creative process of authors rather than a traditional reading lecture.

Tickets for the programs can be purchased for $40 for a single, balcony seating or $50 main floor seating. Subscriptions to the series are also available for $160 balcony and $200, main floor. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 612-543-8112.

Fulkerson said each season about half the tickets are sold as subscriptions and the other half as individual tickets.

All programs will take place at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Main Street, Hopkins. The facility includes a 716-seat theater with a proscenium stage, full audio-visual capabilities, art gallery and classroom, dance studio, community room and catering kitchen for special events.

This year’s presenters:

• Salman Rushdie: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, and 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19 — Author of the controversial book “The Satanic Verses,” Rushdie spent nine years hiding after the novel was found to be “against Islam” by Iranian officials. He has earned several prestigious writing awards and is widely known as an advocate for free speech. A copy of his new memoir is included in this program.

• Alice Kaplan: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 and 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

Writing multiple stories that encapsulate French literature, culture and history, Kaplan will discuss the idea of the romantic dream within French Culture in the 20th century. Her talk will focus on her book “Dreaming in French, The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis,” a bibliographical portrait on how these three American women were changed by Paris.

• Roz Chast: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, and 11 a.m. Friday, March 15 — Chast has contributed more than 1,000 cartoons to “The New Yorker” that deal with everyday life issues as well as contributing to many publications. During her program, Chast will discuss the evolution of her ideas, her experience at the magazine connecting anxiety and hilarity and more.

• Dennis Lehane: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, and 11 a.m. Friday, April 12 — Author of three New York Times best-selling books, Lehane’s crime and literary fiction works have been adapted into Hollywood hits, most notably “Shutter Island,” directed by Martin Scorsese. His talk will focus on his latest novel, “Live by Night,” as well as how his large Irish-American family from Boston inspires his creative mind.

• Armistead Maupin: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, and 11 a.m. Friday, May 17 — Maupin’s stories of swinging San Francisco began as a newspaper column three decades ago and grew into eight novels, known as the “Tales of the Cities” series, which has attracted universal attention. One of the first openly gay authors, Maupin’s storytelling is known by both gays and straights for his amusing and clever telling of the human experiences His talk will discuss the real inspirations behind the series.