Authors of such diverse works as "The Satanic Verses," "Tales of the City" and "Mystic River" are featured in the coming season of Pen Pals, the annual series hosted by the Friends of the Hennepin County Library at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
The series features Salman Rushdie, Alice Kaplan, Roz Chast, Dennis Lehane and Armistead Maupin.
The process of putting together the season begins as the previous season launches.
"We look almost immediately at the mix of authors we want to have in the next year, the publishing trends and the feedback of audiences," said Rachel Fulkerson, the communications and public awareness director of the Friends of the Hennepin County.
The serious booking of the season doesn't start until January, with the ultimate goal to find a mix of authors that will appeal to both the season subscribers and the audiences who purchase tickets for a single show.
The split between the two is about 50-50, so "we give everyone a variety," Fulkerson said.
The name that jumps out for the 2012-13 season is Rushdie, the multiple award-winning author who was forced to spend years away from the public spotlight in the wake of "The Satanic Verses," after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him.
"Each year, we try to find one author who isn't here a lot and appeals to an audience we definitely wanted to reach," Fulkerson said. "This year, his memoirs are coming out and in the Pen Pals series, we want the authors to speak about their life and their whole body of work."
In fact, the cost of the ticket for Rushdie's appearances will include a signed copy of the memoir, scheduled to be released in the fall. The appearance for Pen Pals is one of only a handful of public appearances he will make in the United States.
The rest of the program features a mix of authors. Historian Kaplan, who lived in Minneapolis for a time and is now a professor of French at Yale University, examines the influence Paris had on Jacqueline Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis in her latest book.
Chast is a cartoonist who has had more than a thousand illustrations published in "The New Yorker." She will give an illustrated talk about the inspirations for her work, along with actual slides of her cartoons.
Lehane has written a string of successful thrillers, including later Hollywood hits "Mystic River" and "Shutter Island."
Maupin is best known for his Tales of the City novels, which explore life in San Francisco from the 1970s onward.
"It started as a simple column in the San Francisco Chronicle and has gone on to inspire so much," Fulkerson said.
The money raised by the program goes to support the library collections, programs and building projects at all 41 branches of the Hennepin County libraries.