New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean has been called “a national treasure” by The Washington Post. Her deeply moving explorations of American stories both familiar and obscure have earned her a reputation as one of America’s most distinctive journalistic voices. A staff writer for The New Yorker for over twenty years and a former contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Vogue, Orlean follows her curiosity into unexpected beats. In The Orchid Thief (1998)—the national bestseller that inspired the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation—Orlean delves into the life of John Laroche, a charismatic, scheming horticultural consultant obsessed with rare orchids, convicted of trying to steal these endangered plants from a state preserve in southern Florida. In Rin Tin Tin (2011), Orlean examines how the iconic and beloved German shepherd captured the world’s imagination and, nearly a century later, remains a fixture in American culture.
Her latest work is the instant New York Times bestseller The Library Book, an exploration of the history, power, and future of these endangered institutions, told through the lens of Orlean’s quest to solve a notorious cold case: Who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986, ultimately destroying 400,000 books? The Library Book was named one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018 and The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2018.
In a career spanning more than three decades, Orlean has also written for Outside, Esquire, The Boston Globe, and more. She has served as an editor for Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing, and her journalism has been compiled into two collections: The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People (2001) and My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere (2004). Orlean is currently Rogers Communications Chair in Literary Journalism at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, Canada.
This event is free and open to the public, no tickets required.