Novel perspective: How literature helps us re-think environmental threats

The terrors of a fictional pandemic? The memoirs of a Korean indie musician? Looking for some romance, perhaps? The folks at the Metropolitan Library Service Agency have you covered.

The spring 2021 season of Club Book will bring in (virtually) a cool dozen writers between now and early May — writers of novels, nonfiction, humor, biographies. The free events, which begin Feb. 24 and conclude May 6, will be beamed into your home via Facebook live. (Go to Facebook.com/clubbook.) And if you can’t make the event, you can watch the rerun on the website clubbook.org.

Here’s the lineup:

Eduardo Porter, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24. Hosted by Scott County Library. Porter, a New York Times reporter, is the co-host of the Pie, a podcast on pandemic economics, and is the author of “The Price of Everything.” His latest book, “American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed our Promise,” will be released in paperback Feb. 9.

Lauren Fox, 7 p.m. March 1. Hosted by Anoka County Library. Fox is the author of “Still Life With Husband,” “Friends Like Us” and “Days of Awe.” Her new novel, “Send for Me,” published this month, toggles between present-day United States and 1930s Germany and is based on letters found in Fox’s own family.

John Moe, 6:30 p.m. March 10. Hosted by Carver County Library. Radio and podcast personality Moe has been a senior reporter for “Weekend America,” “Marketplace,” and “Wits.” His book “The Hilarious World of Depression” covers the illness through personal experience, research and interviews.

Imbolo Mbue, 7 p.m. March 16. Hosted by Ramsey County Library. Mbue’s debut novel, “Behold the Dreamers,” was an Oprah book. It told the story of a Cameroonian couple trying to survive in present-day New York City. Her new novel, “How Beautiful We Were,” will be published March 9, the story of how an American oil company devastates a small African village.

Claire Lombardo, 6:30 p.m. March 18. Hosted by Washington County Library. Lombardo’s debut novel, “The Most Fun We Ever Had,” was a New York Times bestseller, following four sisters over five decades. Out in paperback in April, the book is also being adapted for HBO by Amy Adams and Laura Dern.

H.W. Brands, 7 p.m. March 23. Hosted by Hennepin County Library. Historian Brands has written nearly 40 books, covering great swaths of American history. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice, for “The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,” and also for “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” His new book is “The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American Freedom.”

Robert Kolker, 7 p.m. March 25. Hosted by Ramsey County Library. Investigative reporter Kolker is the author of “Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family,” which shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It’s the nonfiction account of the Galvin family of Colorado — six of the 12 family members were diagnosed with hereditary schizophrenia.

Therese Anne Fowler, 7 p.m. April 1. Hosted by Anoka County Library. Fowler, an author of historical fiction, wrote “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald,” which was turned into a dramatic series for Amazon Prime. Fowler is also the author of “A Well-Behaved Woman,” which profiles the life of Alva Vanderbilt, a Gilded Age matriarch. Her newest book is “A Good Neighborhood,” which is set in contemporary times.

Abby Jimenez, 6:30 p.m. April 13. Hosted by Scott County Library. Minnesota pastry chef Jimenez is a former winner of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and is the owner of Nadia Cakes in Maple Grove, Woodbury and California. She is also the author of bestselling romances, including “The Friend Zone” and her new novel, “Life’s Too Short,” to be published in April.

Lawrence Wright, 7 p.m. April 19. Hosted by Dakota County Library. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New Yorker is the author of several books of nonfiction, including “The Looming Tower” and “Going Clear.” His newest book is “The End of October,” a novel about a worldwide pandemic, which proved to be eerily prescient. The novel, released right as COVID-19 was circling the globe, will be released in paperback this spring.

Michelle Zauner, 6:30 p.m. April 27. Hosted by Washington County Library. Indie musician Zauner (who performs under the name Japanese Breakfast) was born in Korea and grew up in the United States, where she grappled with her own “sense of Koreanness.” Her memoir, “Crying in H Mart,” will be released in April.

Ian Manuel, 7 p.m. May 6. Hosted by St. Paul Public Library. Manuel spent 26 years in prison after being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole when he was 13 years old. His story was told in Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling book “Just Mercy” as well as in Nicholas Kristof’s “Tightrope.” Manuel and Stevenson have teamed up to write “My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption,” Manuel’s story in his own words. It will be published in May.

MELSA is regional library system that promotes cooperation among the eight public library systems in the Twin Cities area.

Laurie Hertzel • @StribBooks