Author Renee Rosen at Emanuel Congregation on February 11

Renee Rosen is one of best authors around writing novels based on Chicago’s social history. Her 2014 book, What the Lady Wants, brilliantly tells the story of Marshall Field, both as the great Chicago businessman, as well as a man deeply conflicted in his personal life. Renee’s most recent book, Windy City Blues, is a tale of an interracial love affair set within the contexts of Chicago’s iconic Chess Records and the Civil Rights Movement. Renee is the next featured writer at the Emanuel Congregation’s Speaker Series on Sunday morning, February 11. The event is free and open to the public, and begins at 10:15 am. Emanuel Congregation is located at 5959 N. Sheridan Road. If you plan to attend or have any questions whatsoever, please contact me at

Celebrating Chicago Writers

Despite it being a frigid Chicago winter’s night, a full-house assembled at The Book Cellar this past Saturday to participate in the annual Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Awards. My friend Randy Richardson and his fellow board members always put on a great event, and this year was no exception. All four winners were present, and each read from her prize-winning book. It was nice to see so many of the authors who were honorable mentions and finalists also in attendance. The winners in the four categories were:
Traditional Fiction: The Virginity of Famous Men by Christine Sneed
Indie Fiction: Out the Door! By M. L. Collins
Traditional Nonfiction: Algren: A Life by Mary Wisniewski
Indie Nonfiction: Of This Much I’m Sure by Nadine Kennedy Johnstone
The winner of the CWA’s “Spirit Award” was Suzy Takacs, the owner of The Book Cellar, for being a “tireless advocate for Chicago literature and the people who create it.”

Nelson Algren Museum

We really enjoyed Sue Rutsen’s interesting presentation today on Nelson Algren at the Chicago Writers Museum. Sue is the co-founder of the Nelson Algren Museum, located in the Miller Beach community of Gary, Indiana, where Algren once owned a cottage. The museum is housed in the 1928 Telephone Building at 541 S. Lake Street, once the property of Algren’s friend David Peltz.
The presentation was in the gallery showing the temporary exhibit Capturing Stories: Photographs of Writers by Art Shay. Seven of Shay’s photographs of Algren are in the exhibit, which runs through the Spring. Sue invites all to visit the museum in Miller Beach, where she will give you a personalized tour. It’s by appointment only. She can be reached at or by phone at 773-914-2574

Art and Hurricane Maria

Harriet Winograd, my very talented artist cousin, has created a splendid painting/collage diptych, 4’X4’, which she has named “Hurricane Maria.” Harriet, who is based in the Hartford, Connecticut area, would like to exhibit this piece as well as other works of hers in an exhibit, where a portion of the proceeds of the sales would go charitable organizations that help the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricane.
If any of my readers know of a possible exhibit venue in New England or the New York City area for Harriet’s exhibit, please email me at, and I will forward the information to her.

The Dial Bookshop

I recently visited the newly opened Dial Bookshop on the second floor of the historic Fine Arts Building on South Michigan Avenue. It is owned by Mary Gibbons and Aaron Lippelt, who opened the fabulous Pilsen Community Books on 18th Street two years ago.
The new bookstore is named after the Dial literary magazine that was housed in the Fine Arts Building from 1896 through 1916. The growing stock is tastefully arranged, and if it is anything like Pilsen Community Books, it will soon have shelves filled with books of interest to the discerning Chicago reader.
I encourage you to visit the Dial as soon as you can. It is open from at noon to eight Monday through Friday; and noon to six Saturday and Sunday. You must take one of the building’s iconic elevators to go up to the bookstore on the second floor, which is an interesting experience in and of itself.