Thursday November 23 6:05 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan


10/11/2017 - 18:00
10/11/2017 - 22:30

In keeping with the event’s tradition, a celebrated writer or artist with ties to Chicago will be seated at each table, giving each attendee the opportunity to discuss the author’s work and creative process over dinner. This year’s list of authors includes six past recipients of the 21st Century Award: Jeffery Renard Allen, Blue Balliett, Elizabeth Crane, Eric Charles May, Nami Mun and Christine Sneed, and two One Book, One Chicago authors: Stuart Dybek and Thomas Dyja.

Also attending are Pulitzer Prize winners Margo Jefferson, Blair Kamin and Bryan Gruley; best-selling novelists Elizabeth Berg (“Open House”) and Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”); National Book Award winners Larry Heinemann (“Paco’s Story”) and world affairs expert Evan Osnos (“Age of Ambition”); rock star photographer Paul Natkin; “House of Cards” screenwriter and Lookingglass Ensemble member Laura Eason; celebrity chef Fabio Viviani (Bravo’s “Top Chef”) Field Museum curator Lance Grande; poet Elise Paschen; rock critic and “Sound Opinions” co-host Greg Kot; Michelle Obama biographer Peter Slevin; and Chicago Public Library Director of Children’s Services Elizabeth McChesney and Museum of Science and Industry’s Director of Community Initiatives Bryan Wunar (co-authors of “Summer Matters.”)

Other confirmed authors include ghostlore and paranormal writer Ursula Bielski, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, journalist and playwright John Conroy, Louder than a Bomb founder Kevin Coval, India expert and critic Victoria Lautman, harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy, business writer Suzanne Penn, legal experts Eric Posner and Geoffrey Stone, novelist Kathleen Rooney and many more.

Receiving the 21st Century Award for outstanding recent achievement will be Natalie Y. Moore, who has worked at WBEZ since 2007, covering segregation and inequality. She is the author of several books, including “The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation,” winner of the 2016 Chicago Review of Books award for nonfiction and a Buzzfeed best nonfiction book of 2016.

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner is an annual fundraising dinner produced by the Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library to raise funds to support key learning initiatives in all 80 Chicago Public Library locations. Leading the producing team is Foundation Director Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis has serves as the event host. The evening’s highlight is an intimate onstage conversation with the two Sandburg Award-honorees moderated by author and National Public Radio host Scott Simon, discussing the author’s creative process and inspirations. The co-chairs are Educator Jacqueline Griesdorn and Graham C. Grady, a partner at the Taft law firm.

The Carl Sandburg Literary Award celebrates a writer’s collective body of work. Many of the world’s most important authors have been recognized with the prize, which is regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes. The annual celebration is one of the highlights of Chicago’s social calendar, was hailed as “the smartest event in Chicago” by Crain’s Chicago Business and attracts nearly 800 members of Chicago’s civic and cultural communities.

Past winners of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award are Erik Larson, Scott Turow, Alice Walker, Stephen Sondheim, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mavis Staples, Larry McMurtry, Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe and Salman Rushdie.

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner provides funds to support key learning initiatives of Chicago Public Library. Each year, for the past four years, the event has raised more than $1.5 million for innovative services for children, adults and families at the Library; in 2016, a record-breaking $1.8 million was raised. The dinner provided major support for CPL’s citywide initiatives, including Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge, One Book, One Chicago, YOUmedia, and the Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigator programs. The Foundation is led by Board Chair Bob Wislow of CBRE Chicago and Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin.

“With the support provided by the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner, Chicago Public Library is given the ability to provide some of our most innovative free programming to Chicagoans in all areas of the city,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “The funds provided by the attendees of the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards dinner leverage City support and provide a wide array of our finest programs, which has earned us recognition as one of the most forward-thinking, effective library systems in the world.”

Sponsorship packages for tables of eight guests and a celebrated author are available at $100,000, $50,000, $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 levels. Individual tickets are $1,000 and $2,500. Reservations are strictly limited. For information or to purchase tickets, tables or sponsorships, visit or contact Samantha Courter at the Chicago Public Library Foundation at (312) 201-9830 x 25 or email

BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner. Lead sponsors include Rolex, Zell Family Foundation and Advanced Resources.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library. Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides on-going funding innovative programs and collections that inspire curiosity, including the Summer Learning Challenge, Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigators, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago. In the past 30 years, the Foundation has provided more than $80 million in support to the Chicago Public Library.

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit

About the Honorees

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her most recent books include the novel “The Heart Goes Last,” a collection of short stories entitled “Stone Mattress: Nine Tales” and a volume of poetry, “The Door. Her “MaddAddam” trilogy currently being adapted for HBO, is comprised of three books – the Giller and Booker prize-nominated “Oryx and Crake,” “The Year of the Flood,” and “MaddAddam.” Other recent books include the non-fiction works “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth” and “In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination.” Other acclaimed books include “The Blind Assassin,” winner of the Booker Prize, “Alias Grace,” which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy and “The Robber Bride,” “Cat’s Eye,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” (which has returned to the best sellers list and is being filmed as a TV series with MGM and Hulu). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Dave Eggers is a native of the Chicago area. He is the author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, ‘What is the What,” winner of France’s Prix Medici and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, “Zeitoun,” winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the American Book Award, “A Hologram for the King,” finalist for the National Book Award, and more recently “The Circle,” now a film starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, and” Heroes of the Frontier.” He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco. In 2005, Eggers co-founded Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. He is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of seven writing and tutoring centers around the country. In 2008, he was awarded the TED Prize for his work in education. He is also the founder of ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization that connects students with resources, colleges and donors to make higher education possible for low-income students, and produced the documentary “American Teacher.” Eggers has written or co-written film screenplays including “Where the Wild Things Are: and “Away We Go.” Also a painter, his artwork has been seen in museums and galleries, and a book of his artwork is forthcoming from Abrams.

Natalie Y. Moore is WBEZ's South Side Reporter where she covers segregation and inequality. Her enterprise reporting has tackled race, economic development, food injustice and violence. Moore’s work has been broadcast on the BBC, Marketplace and NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. She is the author of “The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation,” winner of the 2016 Chicago Review of Books award for nonfiction and a Buzzfeed best nonfiction book of 2016, as well as “The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang” and “Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.” She writes a monthly column for the Chicago Sun-Times, and has been published in Essence, Ebony, the Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post and the Guardian. She is a 2010 recipient of the Studs Terkel Community Media Award for reporting on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.