PREVIEW: Michelle Zauner in Conversation

The author of the 2021 American Book Award, Crying in H Mart, is coming to the Michigan theater on April 23rd, Sunday, at 7:00 PM. There will be pre-signed books with potential personalized signatures as well as a speech about the background of her memoir. Michelle Zauner wrote about her experience growing up as a Korean American, specifically focusing on her tumultuous relationship with her mother.

I highly recommend reading this book. It was the first book I read as a college student and a game-changer in my journey as both a reader and writer. Her expression of emotion and vulnerability regarding culture, food, and family had me crying toward the end. It also is the first memoir I read that inspired a whole new genre for me to explore in my own writing.

Although I first learned of Michelle Zauner through Crying in H Mart, she’s also famous as the lead vocalist for a band named Japanese Breakfast that creates alternative pop songs. In fact, before she was an author, she made a living off of music.

Since many of this event’s tickets have been sold out, it may be difficult to attend. However, I’ll do my best in writing a thorough review to give others the same learning experience!


REVIEW: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell delivers words of wisdom at the Michigan Theater.
Malcolm Gladwell delivers words of wisdom at the Michigan Theater.

Checking my phone before Malcom Gladwell’s talk at the Michigan Theater to learn of the snow day announcement gave me a slightly distracted demeanor in my seat half way up the main floor. Alas, I actively put my excitement aside to gain wisdom and knowledge from the best-selling author and contributor to The New Yorker. Last night, Gladwell explored the theme of what makes people stand up and fight in circumstances where fighting is unprecedented, unwarranted, and least likely to be successful. His exploration of what made the women of northern Ireland take up arms and fight back against the British army is featured in a chapter of his new book David and Goliath, from which the event was promoting and featured a book signing after the talk.

Gladwell introduced himself by explaining that while although it’s a great pleasure to be in Michigan in January, it’s also “deeply traumatizing,” as the Canadian used to be an avid Toronto Blue Jays fan until the Detroit Tigers crushed them two years in a row to take them out of the playoffs.  “So Michigan took away the sport that I love. But at the same I realized, as I thought about this even more, it also freed up thousands of hours, which I think I put to use writing books,” Gladwell comically lamented. Laughter aside, he interestingly explored the detailed and troubled history of Alva Vanderbilt, a prominent socialite in the late 1800s and early 1900s. “Nobody predicted on paper that she would become a powerful activist for social change,” Gladwell said. Through describing her upbringing, relationships with men and her beloved daughter Consuela, he tells a tale of an outspoken women confined and cornered in New York society because of mold women were expected to live in during her time. As ambitious as her goals were, all she could do was marry wealthy (which she did, to Sonny Churchill), and build extravagant estates to show off her wealth, participating in full-time conspicuous consumption.

Her story is used to answer what compelled her to act, and eventually lead, the woman’s suffrage movement. What made her want to “take up spiritual arms against forces more powerful than her?” asked Gladwell. Gladwell looked to legitimacy theory, which explains what makes us obey authority is how authority itself behaves based on fairness, trustworthiness and legitimacy. Alva felt society’s treatment of her was not trustworthy and she was denied legitimacy, and when people are denied legitimacy they get angry and will choose to fight back because the cost of disobeying the law outweighs the benefits of obeying it.

The most powerful lesson Gladwell shared through Alva’s story and relationship to the women’s suffrage movement was that “if you deny people legitimacy, they will, one day, by one means or another, come back and defeat you.”

Certainly stirring much thought in my head, I was grateful for the chance to listen a wonderful writer perform as a wonderful speaker. His ability to capture my attention for the duration of the program by following me along this very elaborate example was impressive and valuable. I look forward to reading David and Goliath with these themes presented in the back of my mind.



PREVIEW: Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath book cover

Who: Malcolm Gladwell
What: Reading excerpts from his new book David and Goliath
When: Monday, January 27 at 7 p.m.
Where: Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty Street
Tickets: $35 tickets are available on the main floor as the balcony has been sold out. With online service fees, it’s $44.65. Or you can stop by Nicola’s Books to avoid service fees, while supplies last.

The New Yorker’s Malcom Gladwell is coming to speak at the Michigan Theater to read excerpts from his new book David and Goliath, sign copies and answer audience questions. I recently read an article of his called “Most Likely To Succeed” for my English 225 class, detailing how predicting the future success of athletes and teachers based on perceived performance does not always work so well. Gladwell, in his new book, speaks on disadvantages and obstacles through new interpretations to overcome them. The experience of hearing his well-guided words and wisdom will be well worthwhile.

Purchase tickets here. Read some of Gladwell’s work for the New Yorker or visit his selection on Amazon.