Colson Whitehead

Mat Johnson

Colson Whitehead



Marygrove College is proud to be celebrating the milestone 30th Anniversary of the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series.  From the great Gloria Naylor in 1989 to award-winning Mat Johnson in 2017, Marygrove has brought significant African American authors to the attention of its students, thousands of Detroit area high school students and the community at large.
Dr. Darcy Brandel, chair of Marygrove’s English and Modern Languages Department, host of the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series, said, “This is a most exciting way to celebrate 30 years of this signature event in the city of Detroit.  Mr. Whitehead is one of today’s most talked-about and sought-after authors because his work is so poignant and thought-provoking.  Marygrove is thrilled to introduce him and his work to Detroit.”
His 2016 book, The Underground Railroad was:

  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
  • Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction
  • Finalist for the Kirkus Prize
  • Finalist for the Carnegie Medal
  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • #1 Time Magazine Book of the Year
  • #1 Amazon Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Best Book of the Year
  • A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
  • A GQ Best Book of the Year
  • A Newsday Best Book of the Year
  • An O Magazine Book of the Year
  • A Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year
  • A Star Tribune Best Book of Year
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
  • An Esquire Best Book of the Year

Put this one in ink on your calendar!  Bring friends.  Plan on coming to dinner with the author before his public reading.

Event Details

Now in its 30th year, the Contemporary American Authors Lecture is an annual event bringing a nationally-known African American author to the Marygrove campus for a public reading and seminar with students. It began when the late Frederick P. Currier, a former Marygrove College trustee, attended a reception on campus and remarked that he would like to bring a national writer to Marygrove for a weekend. Mr. Currier's start-up check soon followed his suggestion, and on April 21, 1989 nearly 600 guests of the College heard Gloria Naylor inaugurate the series.

The series has flourished thanks in large part to the generosity of Lillian and Don Bauder whose endowment supports the evening lecture as well as the Mary Helen Washington Writing Contest in which local high school students respond in writing to the visiting authors' works.

The support of Lillian and Don Bauder-along with that of many other individuals, foundations, and corporations-keeps the series free and open to the public.

Contemporary American Author Lecture Series (CAALS)

Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS)

The CAALS brings a nationally-known author to Marygrove College each year for a public lecture and a seminar with students.

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