BBC Series To Explore Detroit Through Its Literary Scene

“Who better to…untangle what’s going on in the city now than the people who live here and write here?”

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

What can we learn about a city through its literary community — the authors, the writers, the readers, book stores, libraries and book clubs?

The BBC is doing that very thing. The public media giant from the United Kingdom is looking at cities around the world through a literary lens.

This week, they’re in Detroit to find out what the city is all about through the eyes of its literary scene.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Nicola Holloway, producer of BBC’s World Book Café, and Detroit writer Nichole Christian about the project.

Holloway says writers are uniquely qualified to tell the stories that define communities like Detroit.

“We’re here in Detroit because we hope, we think, we believe that Detroit is a city that is rich in stories,” says Holloway. “You’ve had such a fascinating and also such a concentrated history.”

“Who better to unpick those histories and those stories and untangle what’s going on in the city now than the people who live here and write here and whose work is inspired by everything that happens here, positive and less positive?”

Christian says writers in Detroit are able to paint a more nuanced picture of the city because they tell human stories from many different perspectives.

“I think there’s a natural tendency to try to figure out a singular narrative for this place,” says Christian. “The thing about the writers who are here, what they are able to show and what they are able to give just through observation is that it’s not a singular narrative, it never has been, it never will be.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.