Written By: Tim Ehrenberg | Photography By: Tim Ehrenberg & Brian Sager

In honor of the Nantucket Book Festival, Tim Ehrenberg gives us a sneak peek at some of the talented authors coming to the island this month.

I’m a great believer in the power of fiction to tell the truth. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” Rebecca Makkai’s novel left me stunned by its ability to tell the truth about a time so rarely spoken, written or read about. As a gay man in 2019, I have lived a much different life than the gay characters in 1980s Chicago, but this book resonated with me in a personal way. The Great Believers is a dazzling story of friendship and redemption in the face of the AIDS tragedy and this extreme loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris. Join me as I chat with Rebecca Makkai on Saturday, June 15th, at 12 p.m. at the Methodist Church.

Dave Cullen’s newest book Parkland is not about a school shooting so much as the movement that followed. It’s an inspirational account of the extraordinary teenage survivors from Parkland who pushed back against the NRA and congressional leaders and launched the singular grassroots March for Our Lives movement. Cullen writes of hope, of empowerment and of change. He inspires students, groups and communities everywhere to make a stand. This book, along with the story Cullen has to tell, will inspire anyone who wants to see change. March over to see Dave Cullen speak at the book festival on Friday, June 14th, at 2 p.m. at the Methodist Church and also at our Opening Night Celebration on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House. Cullen will also be speaking and inspiring Nantucket students at a private event on Monday, June 17th.

Remember the joy you felt as a young child getting your first library card? Susan Orlean’s true-crime “love letter to libraries” is a thrilling journey through the stacks, from the first libraries to the beloved institutions they are today, and also an investigation into the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library. You don’t need your library card to check out Susan Orlean discussing The Library Book on Saturday, June 15th, at 2 p.m. at the Methodist Church.

On pretty much every “best of” list in 2018 and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Washington Black is an adventure story that asks the question, “What is true freedom?” We fall in love with the characters in this one as we follow George Washington Black, or Wash, as he is chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant. To his surprise, his new master is an abolitionist and these two people, separated by an impossible divide, begin to see each other as human. The story examines art, friendship, betrayal, love and redemption. Experience the adventure of Washington Black on Saturday, June 15th, at 1 p.m. at the Methodist Church with Esi Edugyan in conversation with Heather Reisman.

“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.” And so begins this magical retelling of the daughter of the sun god, Helios. You may remember the main character from studying The Odyssey in school, but this is not the Circe from your Greek mythology class. We see her as a determined and mischaracterized soul in a world dominated by powerful men. Homer’s The Odyssey may be a book of the past, but Circe is a story of today and for all of the women (and nymphs) still fighting for a voice. All mortals should make their own odyssey to the Methodist Church on Friday, June 14th, at 10 a.m. to fall under the spell of Madeline Miller’s story.

Let me give you the skinny. Elin Hilderbrand’s new book is far out! In her first historical novel, she takes us back to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century—1969—as four siblings are about to experience the drama, the intrigue and the upheaval of a summer when everything changed. It’s all in here—Vietnam, civil rights protests, Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick, man on the moon, Woodstock and much more. We also see Nantucket in that year, which, while a much different place than it is in 2019, held all of the beauty, community and charm that it still retains today. Book it down to Cisco Brewers on Sunday, June 16th, at 12 p.m. where Elin Hilderbrand will be signing advanced copies of Summer of ’69.

Events are subject to change. Check for the most up-to-date schedule. Support your Island Indies! All books are available at Mitchell’s Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks.

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