amy-ellis-nutt-julie-otsukaPulitzer winner Amy Ellis Nutt (above left), National Book Award finalist Julie Otsuka (right), and historical novelist James L. Haley (below) are among the celebrated wordsmiths appearing in the coming days at events in Shrewsbury, Fair Haven and Lincroft.

james-l-haleyThere’s a Pulitzer Prize winner who trained in the trenches of Jersey journalism. A novelist whose credits include a PEN/Faulkner Award and a National Book Award nomination. And a celebrated historian turned master purveyor of “ripping yarn” page-turners.

Apparently the Greater Red Bank Green hasn’t gotten the memo that books are dead, because the joy of reading, and the highly anticipated appearances of some high-profile authors, are alive and well in the coming days and nights.

The reading circle commences Sunday afternoon, when the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury welcomes former Star-Ledger reporter Amy Ellis Nutt back to the Garden State for a 2 p.m. revisit to the story that helped put her on the national map.

Now a health and science correspondent for the Washington Post (“where my beat is the brain”), Nutt was first nominated for the Pulitzer for the feature story “The Accidental Artist” — a 2009 profile of Jon Sarkin, a chiropractor whose massive stroke transformed him into an obsessively prolific creator of art and poetry, which served as the foundation for her New York Times best-selling book Shadows Bright as Glass.

Two years later, she’d win journalism’s most prestigious prize for “The Wreck of the Lady Mary,” about a mysterious 2009 shipwreck off the coast of Cape May that left but a single survivor, and no clues as to its cause. It’s that topic that forms the basis of her Sunday afternoon lecture. As with all county library programs and special events, the 2 p.m. presentation (part of an ongoing Myths and Mysteries series) is free, with no reservation required.


It involves a newly inaugurated U.S. President, some complicated Middle Eastern politics, and Islamist zealots whose acts of terrorism threaten the lives of American civilians. It’s also set in the year 1801, when a young naval officer named Bliven Putnam is dispatched by Thomas Jefferson to The Shores of Tripoli, toward a desperate battle and an overland assault that bring him from the waters of the Mediterranean to the sands of the Libyan desert.

The first in a planned series from James L. Haley, the novel, subtitled Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates, aims to do for the early history of the United States Navy what C.S. Forester (the “Captain Horatio Hornblower” tales) and Patrick O’Brian (the Master and Commander series) did for the era when Britain ruled the waves. With the just-released book already garnering raves from aficionados of high-seas high adventure and historical romances, the Texas-based author of the nonfiction Wolf: The Lives of Jack London comes to Fair Haven’s Nauvoo Grill Club Tuesday at 7 p.m. for an event presented by the nearby River Road Books in association with the Monmouth County Historical Association. Tickets ($30) include a hardcover signing copy of the new book and “lite nibbles.” A cash bar is also available, and a portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Freehold-based MCHA. Reserve by calling (732) 747-9455, and ask about the November 30 appearance by Vanity Fair magazine contributor (and author of a new bio on the late Joan Rivers) Leslie Bennetts.


Capping a 2016 “Brookdale Read” initiative organized by Brookdale Community College, the Lincroft campus will host novelist Julie Otsuka in an “interactive presentation” that’s hosted by the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange).

The author visits BCC’s Robert J. Collins Arena on Thursday, November 17 for a 7 p.m. event that includes a lecture, Q&A session and signing of her novel, When the Emperor Was Divine. The 2002 book, which details one family’s experiences in the Japanese internment camps of World War II, served as the centerpiece of this year’s Brookdale Read, an annual initiative designed to spur community-wide discussion on significant social issues.

Community members of all ages are invited to attend the event, for which general admission is $5 (free to BCC students and employees with valid ID). Use parking lots 6 and 7, and go here for additional information on this and other programs sponsored by Chhange.