Best Local Authors In Chicago

July 1, 2013 7:00 AM

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If there’s one thing that can be said about Chicagoans, it’s that we like to read. From the numerous independent and chain bookstores that dot the metro area to the behemoth of the Harold Washington Library Center, there are plenty of ways to find a book to read. From children’s books to adult fiction, the area boasts a diverse range of writers. To get started in discovering local writers from Chicago, consider checking out the following list. You can also meet some of the writers in person or see exhibits of their work through upcoming events.

Blue Balliett

Do your children (or do you) like learning about art history or enjoy reading a fun mystery novel? If so, have them check out books by children’s author Blue Balliett, a native of New York City who now lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Her award-winning novels include “Chasing Vermeer,” which is set in Chicago and tells the story of Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee tracking down a stolen painting by Johannes Vermeer. “The Wright 3” and “The Calder Game” were sequels to the novel and also received critical acclaim. Her latest novel, “Hold Fast,” was released earlier this year.



Audrey Niffenegger

When you think of Audrey Niffenegger, you probably think of her novel “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” But she is also an artist, with her illustrations seen in her latest work “The Raven Girl.” You can even see an exhibit of her illustrations at Printworks Gallery through August 17, 2013. Niffenegger was born in South Haven, MI, but has made Chicago her home and is a faculty member of the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago. Her interests aren’t limited to Chicago, either, as she occasionally gives tours of Highgate Cemetery in London.

Sara Paretsky

If reading a murder mystery is your cup of tea, then check out author Sara Paretsky’s novels. For more than 30 years, Paretsky has been thrilling readers with a series of books centered on V.I. Warshawski, a private investigator from Chicago who solves numerous mysteries set in the Windy City. Her next Warshawski novel, “Critical Mass,” will be released in October. Paretsky has also been instrumental in nurturing the development and growth of women crime writers, and helped start Sisters in Crime, an international support network of mystery writers, in 1986.

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Samuel Park

Do you ever wonder what might have happened if you had made different choices in your life? That curiosity about taking a different path is the premise of Samuel Park’s novel “This Burns My Heart,” which takes place in 1960s South Korea and is based on his mother’s story. The novel was released in 2011 and received rave reviews; for instance, it was named the best fiction of 2011 by Kirkus Book Review. His other works include “Shakespeare’s Sonnets” and contributions to “Theater Journal,” “Shakespeare Bulletin” and “Black Camera.” Park is an assistant professor of English at Columbia College Chicago.

Luis Alberto Urrea

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Luis Alberto Urrea’s published works include “The Hummingbird’s Daughter,” which takes place in Mexico in the late 19th century, and its sequel, “Queen of America.” His other works include “Into the Beautiful North” and “Six Kinds of Sky,” and his writings include fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Urrea, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, currently lives in Naperville and is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. You can also meet Urrea at his next local event, which is scheduled for October 23 and 24, 2013, at Aurora Public Library. In addition, Urrea has been known to speak with local book clubs in person, over the phone or via Skype. He is also active on Facebook and Twitter, and can be found @Urrealism.

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Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at

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