December appearances

Thursday, December 1st, 7:00 pm:

Third Kirchner Lecture featuring Beth Dooley and J. Ryan Stradal

At the Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities campus)

Full details here.


Sunday, December 4th, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm:

Linden Hills Winter Market book sale, signing, and meet & greet, sponsored by Excelsior Books

At Sunnyside Gardens, 3723 W. 44th St. Minneapolis, MN 55410


Tuesday, December 6th, 7:00 pm:

Conversation with Susan Straight (and dessert bars contest, judged by me)

At The Last Bookstore,  453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Full details here.

Tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in November

Next week begins my Kitchens of the Great Midwest tour in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. If you'll be near any of these places, or know someone who may be, here are the dates/times/venues:


Tuesday 11/8:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader/host: Bartholomäus Sailer

Buch & Café Lentner Balanstraße 14 D-81669 München


Wednesday 11/9:

6:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language only

Host: Ms. Gesa Schneider (director literature house Zurich)

Café BANK, Helvetiaplatz CH-8004 Zürich


Thursday 11/10:

7:30 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Steffen Nowak Host: Ms. Pat Götz

Buchhandlung Lesebar Schloßstraße 8/2 D-88416 Ochsenhausen


Friday 11/11:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Steffen Nowak; Host: Ms. Pat Götz

Ehinger Buchladen, Hauptstraße 46 D-89584 Ehingen (Donau)


Saturday 11/12:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Robert Gwisdek

Backfabrik Clinker Lounge, Saarbrücker Straße 36-38 D-10405 Berlin


Monday 11/14:

7:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language with a culinary setting

German reader: Mr. Heinrich Baumgärtner

Buchhandlung Heyn, Kramergasse 2-4, A-9020 Klagenfurt


Tuesday 11/15:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Mr. Moritz Stöpel

Buchhandlung Bollinger, Hohemarktstraße 151, D-61440 Oberursel

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association names "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" the top fiction book of 2016

I'm completely floored. I can't tell you what it means to win this award from my local booksellers, whose recommendations and community have actively made me a better reader and writer over my seventeen years in Los Angeles. 

Huge thanks in particular to Skylight Books, {pages}: a bookstore, Warwick's, Vroman's, Diesel Bookstore, Small World Books, Stories, The Last Bookstore, Chevalier's, and the deeply missed Dutton's for the support over the years. I would not be the writer or person I am without you.

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association votes "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" the top fiction book of the year

I'm truly floored to hear this news today from the Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards.  I've been a lover of the independent bookstores in my home region since I could read, and my lifelong dream was just to have a reason to read at one of them someday -- I never thought in a million years that they'd vote to give me an award for a book I wrote. I'm deeply honored, thankful for the support, and completely beside myself.

Thank you again, so much,  to the independent bookstore owners and staff   who believed   in a strange book from an obscure debut author, and helped   it find its readers. It doesn't happen without you.

See you at the Heartland Fall Forum on October 5th!



Two Award Nominations for "Kitchens."

I'm completely beside myself to announce that Kitchens of the Great Midwest has been named a finalist in two awards this summer  -- the 2016 SCIBA Book Awards and Late Night Library's 2016 Debut-litzer Prize.  As an unknown debut author, it's a blessing to have readers at all, let alone award nominations, and I'm blown away by the extremely kind support from the booksellers of Southern California and the great Late Night Library folks up in Portland. Whatever happens, it's pretty overwhelming and surreal just to be in this situation.

Hot Dish Reading Series returns to 826LA in August, featuring Unnamed Press

HOT DISH RETURNS. After a long hiatus, Summer Block and J. Ryan Stradal are bringing Hot Dish Reading Series   back to 826LA. The food theme is SALADS. Have a fun summer salad idea? Have a disheartening salad idea? A throwback salad? A healthy salad? An ironic salad? Bring one and bring your appetite -- and let us know via our public Facebook invite so we can avoid tragic salad redundancies.

The reading will feature four writers associated with Los Angeles' exciting new Unnamed Press  -- staff member Zinzi Clemmons, authors Margaret Wappler  and Debbie Graber, and editor-at-large J. Ryan Stradal,  along with two additional small-press California writers, historical fiction writer Gina Mulligan   (author of Remember The Ladies)  and novelist Joseph Mattson (author of Empty The Sun).

Where: 826LA, 1714 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026.  Doors at 5:00 pm. Starts around 5:30 pm or whenever everyone's had a bite to eat and a glass of wine and looks ready to hear some stories. 

$5.00 at the door to benefit 826LA. The authors' books will also be for sale at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart  with the proceeds going to support 826LA   as well. Cheap parking in the back. There will, as always, be an intermission.

More info to come. Until then, if you're around Los Angeles in late August, please save the date of Saturday, August 27th -- and hope to see you there.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest US paperback tour dates

I'd be extremely grateful to see you in one of these cities this summer.



Tuesday, June 7th – PLEASANTON, CA The Wine Steward, 3:00 pm

Tuesday, June 7th – DANVILLE, CA Rakestraw Books, 7:00 pm

Wednesday, June 8th – POULSBO, WA The Loft Restaurant ,7:00 pm

Thursday, June 9th – SEATTLE, WA University Bookstore, 7:00 pm

Friday, June 10th – HOUSTON, TX Blue Willow Bookshop, 7:00 pm

Saturday, June 11th – SAN ANTONIO, TX Twig Bookshop, 2:00 pm

Sunday, June 12th – ST. LOUIS, MO Left Bank Books, 2:00 pm

Monday, June 13th – EXCELSIOR, MN Excelsior Chamber of Commerce, 7:00 pm

Tuesday, June 14th – ELM GROVE, WI Elm Grove Library, 6:30 pm

Wednesday, June 15th – BEREA, OH Cuyahoga County Library, 7:00 pm

Thursday, June 16th – LAKE FOREST, IL Lake Forest Bookstore, 6:30 pm

Friday, June 17th – WICHITA, KS Watermark Books, 6:00 pm

Saturday, June 25th – SAN DIEGO, CA The Westgate Hotel, 1:00 pm



Sunday, July 3rd – HUDSON, WI Chapter2 Books, 12:00 pm

Sunday, July 3rd – HASTINGS, MN The Bierstube, 5:00 pm

Tuesday, July 12th – SACRAMENTO, CA CapRadio Reads, 6:00 pm

Wednesday, July 27th – CHAMPAIGN, IL Champaign Public Library, 7:00 pm

Thursday, July 28th – WORTHINGTON, OH Worthington Library, 6:00 pm


More details for all of these events in the calendar. Thanks again for the support, and I hope to catch you on the road this year.



Kitchens of the Great Midwest wins Adult Debut Book of the Year from the American Booksellers Association

Whoa. Kitchens has been named the 2016 "INDIES CHOICE BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD – ADULT DEBUT WINNER" by the American Booksellers Association. I honestly can't believe it.

Immense gratitude to the independent booksellers I've met over the last year who helped support an unknown  (and kind of weird)  Minnesota native and his unusual book. I don't need an award to let you know how much you've meant to me.  I hope to see you again and again in the years to come.

Wisconsin Book Festivals

This month, I'm back in the Midwest, doing talks, readings, panels, and book signings at the annual Writers' Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Saturday 4/16 & Sunday 4/17) and the Fox Cities Book Festival in Neenah, Wisconsin and Kaukauna, Wisconsin (Monday 4/18).

Check the links above for more details, and if you're nearby, I hope to see you there.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest a finalist for an ABA Indies Choice Book Award

My strange little book about the people and food I experienced while growing up Minnesota is a finalist for a 2016 ABA Indies Choice Book Award, in the category of "Book of the Year -- Adult Debut." I'm overflowing with gratitude for the independent booksellers who supported my book and took a chance on an unknown Midwestern native's first novel. Their hard work--from the hand sales to the promotional materials to the plates of bars--has meant so much to me. A huge thank you to all of them, from Minnesota to California and beyond.


Spring Readings & Panel Discussions

Saturday, March 19th: Dirty Laundry Lit in Los Angeles, CA. Reading with Karolina Waclawiak, Ashley Perez, Lisa Mecham, and others. Produced by Natashia Deon. 7:00 pm at the Virgil in Los Feliz.  $7 at the door. 

Friday, April 1st: The Rumpus and Rare Bird Lit host Pick Your Poison:  an AWP Off-site event  in downtown LA. Hosted by Antonia Crane. 7:00 pm at Lethal Amounts, 1226 W. 7th St. $5.00.

Saturday, April 2nd:  Welcome & Morning Keynote Address at Literary Orange.  8:45 am at The Irvine Marriott,  18000 Von Karman Avenue,  Irvine, CA. $65.00.

Saturday, April 2nd: AWP panel "No Facts, Only Interpretations: An Examination of the Multiple POV Novel," with Rebecca Makkai, Julia Fierro, Anna North, Eric Sasson, and myself,  from 3pm-4:15pm in the Gold Salon 4 at the Marriott, Los Angeles, CA. Free w/AWP registration.

Sunday, April 10th:  Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Panel: Pushing Boundaries  w/ Aimee Bender,  Tara Ison,  Dylan Landis, myself, and moderator David Francis.  4:00 pm at Seeley G Mudd #123,  USC Campus,  Los Angeles, CA. Nominal reservation fee; check the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books  HQ for details.


Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an Audie Award Finalist

Kitchens of the Great Midwest has been nominated for a 2016 Audie Award for best fiction audiobook of 2016. Huge congratulations and massive gratitude to actors Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg and producer Karen Dziekonski.

See the final six finalists here:

End-of-year lists

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is, somehow:

1. One of the top 10 books of the year, voted by librarians across the US

2. One of the top 10 books of the year  (Chicago Public Libraries)

3. One of 2015's top 15 novels (Daily Mail)

4. A top 100 book of the year  (

5. A top 20 book of the year in Literature & Fiction  (

6. One of 2015's Great Reads, and a "Staff Pick" (

7. A top 12 Fiction book of the year in the Goodreads Choice Awards

8. A top 12 book of the year (Los Angeles Magazine)

9. One of 2015's  top books by Minnesotans (St. Paul  Pioneer Press)

10. A top 30 book of the year (Book Page)

11. A  "Best Fiction of 2015" pick  (Kansas City Star)

12. A top book of 2015 (Detroit Free Press)

13. One of the 20 best fiction books of 2015 (Business Insider)

14. A "Best book of 2015" at WBUR-FM (Boston's NPR affiliate)

15.  A featured book of 2015 (San Diego CityBeat)

16. One of the 12 books chosen by Entertainment Weekly for their holiday gift guide

17. One of the 10 books chosen as holiday picks at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY

18. One of Inforum's (Fargo, ND - Moorhead, MN) 10 Christmas gift book selections

19.  A pick to "finish out 2015" (Muskogee Phoenix)

20. One of the "12 books for Christmas" chosen by the Newport (R. I.) Mercury

I'm extremely grateful to be on any lists at all, so a huge thank you to the writers, readers, and book enthusiasts who do these things at the end of the year, and  thought of an unknown Minnesota native's weird debut novel  -- I truly appreciate it.

New York Times Hardcover Best Seller List

I can't believe it.  Kitchens of the Great Midwest made it on to the New York Times best seller list during its third week of release. Never in a million years did I think I'd ever be a "New York Times Bestselling author." Never, never. I am grateful for the hundreds of people who had the patience and kindness to help me on the way, and who continue helping me. I cannot do it without you. I can't wait to see you and thank you in person.

[photo of the list]