October 31, 2013 Mystery Writer Sara Paretsky to Discuss "Critical Mass," Nov. 15

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Best-selling author Sara Paretsky returns to the Library of Congress on Nov. 15 to discuss “Critical Mass,” her 16th V.I. Warshawski novel.

Paretsky is credited with transforming the mystery genre when she introduced V.I. Warshawski, the tough, smart female private detective in the 1982 novel “Indemnity Only.”

Paretsky’s lecture will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, in the West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Division, the event is free and open to the public. No tickets are needed. A book sale and signing will follow the program.

In “Critical Mass,” Paretsky features Warshawski’s best friend, Vienna-born doctor Lotty Herschel. Paretsky’s skills in developing compelling characters and plots are demonstrated once again in this novel, as she weaves together Lotty’s childhood in Vienna, missing persons, meth labs, Chicago history and the race for the atomic bomb during World War II.

Born in Iowa and raised in Kansas, Paretsky moved to Chicago in the 1960s to organize for social change. Paretsky's interest in social justice helped develop her powerful voice on behalf of the disenfranchised, a voice that can be found in the pages of her novels. A tireless reader of the mystery genre, she created V.I. Warshawski to respond to what she saw as a dearth of worthy female characters in mysteries.

In 1986, Paretsky helped found and served as the first president of “Sisters in Crime,” a worldwide organization to support women crime writers. It earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year award. More accolades followed: the British Crime Writers awarded her the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement; “Blacklist” won the Gold Dagger from the British Crime Writers for best novel of 2004; and she has received honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from several universities. Paretsky was named the 2011 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. The actress Kathleen Turner played V.I. Warshawski in the movie of that name, and Paretsky’s work is celebrated in Pamela Beere Briggs’s documentary, “Women of Mystery.”

In addition to the Warshawski mysteries, Paretsky has written the novels “Ghost Country” and “Bleeding Kansas;” a memoir, “Writing in the Age of Silence,” which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; and several collections of short stories. Her books are published in 30 countries.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Division provides reference service and collection development in the Main, Local History and Genealogy, and Microform and Electronic Resources reading rooms at the Library of Congress. It regularly sponsors programs in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 13-189
ISSN 0731-3527