A Very Novel Affair
Photography by Jim Prisching
Poet Ralph Hamilton is currently Senior Editor at RHINO Poetry, a celebrated local poetry publication. He has studied at Oxford University, has his master’s degree from Harvard, and worked in the White House during the Carter administration. In the past, his experience on public policy has allowed him to be an in-demand consultant for foundations looking to alter their internal strategy and operations. But this fall, Hamilton will add one more title to his impressive list: A Novel Affair host.
Hamilton, in conjunction with fellow artist Tracey Shafroth, will open his Evanston home to supporters of the Lake Forest-based Ragdale Foundation, during their Novel Affair weekend, Friday, September 30, and Saturday, October 1. Ragdale, the nation’s fourth largest artist colony providing time and space for artists (painters, musicians, choreographers, poets, photographers, etc.) to work and create, brings world-class authors to the North Shore for the fifth year in a row. On Saturday evening, Hamilton, as well as other hosts from Winnetka, Lake Forest, and even Chicago, will open their homes for readers to meet their favorite authors in the intimate setting of cocktails and dinner. All parties are kept to around 20 to 25 people, so a personal experience is guaranteed. “It’s such a privilege to talk one-on-one with famous authors about their work,” says Hamilton.
When making their reservation, guests will be able to choose from a remarkable list of best-selling and award-winning talent. Lisa Genova (Still Alice), Ron Hansen (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand), Meg Wolitzer (The Position), Suzzy Roche (singer and new author), Heidi Durrow (The Girl Who Fell from the Sky), Sue Miller (The Good Mother), and Malachy McCourt (author and actor) will all be making an appearance for the weekend.
The Friday evening of A Novel Affair weekend begins with a cocktail party at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park. There, guests will also have a chance to mingle with their favorite writers, as well as other fascinating people. In addition, Ragdale’s resident authors, Jane Hamilton (Map of the World), Gail Tsukiyama (The Street of a Thousand Blossoms), and Anne LeClaire (Listening Below the Noise), and Ragdale Trustee Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife) will be in attendance. Many consider “a weekend like this a backstage pass to the literary world.”
“There are lots of fund-raisers on the North Shore, but few embody the core activity of the organization,” says Hamilton, who spent a few weeks at Ragdale two years ago finishing poems for a book. “In our case, A Novel Affair is right at the heart of what Ragdale does, which is provide a sacred time and space for artists to explore and create.”
Tickets to A Novel Affair are sold as a two-night package or for Friday night only. Tickets can be purchased by calling 847-234-1063, ext. 201.