It's a year of milestones for four of Minnesota's most prominent literary entities, with Graywolf Press marking its 35th anniversary, the Loft literary center and Milkweed Editions their 30th anniversaries, and Coffee House Press its 25th anniversary, and the four organizations are collaborating with booksellers across the metro area to highlight the richness of the Twin Cities cultural scene by conducting an 11-week scavenger hunt this fall.
The “Around the Twin Cities in (Almost) 80 Days” literary scavenger hunt will officially kick off October 10 at this year's Twin Cities Book Festival in downtown Minneapolis and continue through the last week of December. Each week, two different bookstores, each offering special discounts and giveaways, will be featured in an “Around the Twin Cities in (Almost) 80 Days” promotional “passport.” Any patron who correctly answers that week's literary trivia question will have his or her passport stamped by a participating bookseller. After the hunt ends, there will be random drawings for prizes from among those who've had their passports stamped at every one of the 20 participating bookstores as well as at the Twin Cities Book Festival.
Passports will be distributed at the book festival and will be available throughout the hunt at Minneapolis's Open Book literary center and at the 20 bookstores. Passports may also be printed out at www.twincitieslit.wordpress.com, where each week's literary trivia question will be posted. The trivia questions will also be broadcast through each organization's e-newsletter and social media networks, including Twitter and Facebook. “The idea is to draw nationwide attention, as well as citywide attention, to the great literary community the Twin Cities has,” declared Mary Matze, Graywolf publicity director and one of seven organizers for the event.
The grand prize includes a Talking Volumes regional book-club season pass, enabling the bearer to attend all six of the author interviews conducted at St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater during the 2010 season. The grand prize winner will also receive copies of the complete 2009 lists from Graywolf (27 titles), Milkweed (15) and Coffee House (16)—a total of 58 books.
“At a time when all parts of the book world are struggling, I'm excited to see so many publishers and stores working together,” said Hans Weyandt, co-owner of Micawber's Books in St. Paul. “So much that passes for marketing is e-mail related. It's cool that people are actually getting out and doing something.” Micawber's will have special displays of titles published by local presses throughout the hunt and will offer 20% off the entire purchase for any patron who correctly answers the trivia question posted the week the store is spotlighted in the passport.
Before the scavenger hunt begins, organizers are issuing a call for submissions of Twin Cities—related literary trivia questions. Between August 3 and 14, questions and answers may be submitted to TwinCitiesLit@gmail.com.
While the scavenger hunt will conclude immediately after the holidays, the celebrants hope to keep the party going by sparking a community conversation about publishing in the Twin Cities, tentatively scheduled for January or February at the Minneapolis Central Library. The heads of the four literary entities—Jocelyn Hale, Loft executive director; Fiona McCrae, Graywolf publisher; Daniel Slager, Milkweed publisher; Allan Kornblum, Coffee House's founding publisher; and Chris Fischbach, who's been tapped by Kornblum to take over from him in 2012—will discuss the past and future of each organization as well as the cumulative impact upon both the Twin Cities and the national literary scenes.