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Library of Michigan event celebrates 2024 Notable Books authors

Library of Michigan Special Collections Manager David Votta stands in the library's atrium
Scott Pohl
Library of Michigan Special Collections Manager David Votta stands in the library's atrium

Every year, the Library of Michigan designates a list of 20 Michigan Notable Books to promote exceptional publications from the past year.

On April 20, many of the authors will be honored during the library’s Night For Notablesevent. Many of the writers are also on tour across the state.

WKAR’s Scott Pohl talks with David Votta, the library’s special collections manager, about the literary celebration.

If you’re thinking about writing a book yourself, the annual Rally of Writers conference will be held at the Lansing Community College West Campus on April 13.

Interview Transcript

Scott Pohl: Explain the basic idea behind the Night For Notables. I know that the Library of Michigan selects a number of books every year for a designation of being special with regard to being by Michigan authors, or being about Michigan, or stories that take place in Michigan, but what's the idea behind the Night For Notables?

David Votta: The Night For Notables is a celebration. It's in the moment, honoring the authors that are recipients of the award that year. It's honoring their work, what they've already done, a celebration that day, and also looking to inspire future authors and writers in Michigan.

Pohl: I would think that there's also an element of inspiring readers to read about Michigan, and to begin the process of following writers based in Michigan or from Michigan.

Votta: Absolutely. Both the Michigan-based authors and those authors that are out of state that are talking about all the different elements around the state, the history, fictional elements, trying to get people more engaged in literature.

Pohl: I did want to clarify that the books are both fiction and nonfiction, right?

Votta: Absolutely.

Pohl: Lots of histories in the books included.

Votta: Sure. There's usually a mix. The notable books, We have 20 of them each year, and there will be hundreds of submissions. We try and have a mix of genres, both children's books, adult fiction, nonfiction, lots of history, which is a love of mine.

Pohl: Are you expecting all 20 authors to be in attendance?

Votta: Unfortunately, no. 13 authors, we have right now. Some of the authors, Michigan Notable honorees, they're also national winners. And so, we have folks that are on national tours right now that can't make it.

Pohl: David, books will be available at the Night For Notables, and the authors who are in attendance will be happy, I assume, to greet their readers and sign books if they'd like.

Votta: Oh, absolutely. After the ceremony, the authors come up and we are able to purchase books and get signatures and talk with the authors and interact with them.

Pohl: The keynote speaker this year is Stephen Mack Jones. Tell me about him and his work.

Votta: Stephen Mac Jones is, his most famous works are the August Snow series, which is Detroit crime novels. He's a Detroiter. So, if you like gritty, fun, underworld stories, that's where his stories live.

Pohl: I think it's great that there's also an author tour being organized, where authors of some or all of these books will be visiting libraries all over the state. Can you tell me about the author tour this year?

Votta: Sure. This spring, several of the notable authors are going to be traveling around to libraries. We have libraries submit, public libraries submit to their preferred author, and we try and match them up as much as possible. It's actually not just public libraries this time, too. And we try and support education and have, if students can, view it, that's a benefit for us.

Pohl: The Night For Notables, which recognizes the authors of Michigan's notable books for 2023, will be held on Saturday, April 20, starting at 6 p.m. at the Library of Michigan. We've been talking with David Votta, special collections manager at the Library of Michigan. David, thank you.

Votta: Thank you very much.

Pohl: For WKAR news, I'm Scott Pohl.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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