Local Author Spotlight

Our community is home to a large number of outstanding authors. To celebrate them, we will offer – every two months – an introduction to a different children's or adult author who resides or works in one of the four towns in our school district and who has published a new book within the past year. The selection shall be made by a vote of our librarians. Happy reading!

See More Books by Local Authors!
January – February 2020

Ocean Vuong


What is your favorite local place to go for inspiration, relaxation, or peace and quiet? Why?

There’s a tiny coffee shop called Yup Coffee where I go on summer mornings to do a lot of my work. It overlooks a dam and a brook and has a free donation-driven library.

Do you have a special library memory or story?

When I was 9 and couldn’t read yet (I was/am still a slow learner), I spent my recess in the library listening to tapes of famous speeches. The librarians, knowing I couldn’t read, helped me set up my head set and guided me through speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, a reenactment of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, etc. I did not know they were speeches, however. I only felt them as poetry, language in the voice made real, made new and, mostly, made possible.
Local Author Spotlight - Ocean Vuong - Photo by Tom Hines
Do you have a favorite book that is set in or is about the Pioneer Valley or New England?

Moby Dick and, of course, Dickinson’s poems.

What was the last book you enjoyed reading?

McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh

Recent Books by Ocean

  (see all his books)

Ocean's Favorite Books

  (with his comments)

"Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson: a queer story written by a straight woman who gets it right, mostly by refusing to be shy about facing the dramatic, even overtly so, to tell a story of a boy growing into and out of his interior life at once. A masterwork of hybridity.

Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald: a pastoral version of the flaneur novel that quickly transforms and transgresses into constellations of histories, lost narratives, memories and retellings of human life. A masterpiece in the utilization of form.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison: a rich and unforgiving story of friendship, betrayal, and ultimately, of mercy, among black men. This book taught me so much about how forgiveness can work without forgetting the violence that made it so necessary in the first place.

When My Brother was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz: a masterclass in how to use myriad forms and modes to propel a magical realist mode of storytelling and some of the most heartbreaking, joyous and haunting images I’ve ever read.

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee: a testament to the redemptive and life-giving power of an autobiographical novel; that writers do not retell their lives merely because it is easy or available to them, but that it’s a chance to give dignity and imaginative scope to history and its great wounds, its losses and triumphs at once."

Authors Previously Spotlighted

Christopher Benfey

Micha Archer

Joanne Creighton

Bruce Watson

Aaron Becker

Charles Mann

Holly Black

Lewis Mainzer

Nicole Blum & Catherine Newman

Michael Ponsor

David Hyde Costello

William Taubman

Rich Michelson

Madeleine Blais

Cammie McGovern

View our earlier Local Author Spotlights by year: 2019, 2018 & 2017 | Or browse more books by local authors