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Susan Messer

Born: 1948 in Detroit, Michigan
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: I moved to Chicago in 1983 to work as an editor at the Clearinghouse Review--a monthly journal that reported on issues of poverty law. I moved to Oak Park, Illinois, in 1985 and have lived and worked there ever since.


  • -- Ilinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose,
  • -- Illinois Arts Councial Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction
  • -- Moment Magazine Prize for Short Fiction
  • -- Jewish Cultural Writing Competition, Center for Yiddish Culture
  • -- WBEZ Stories on Stage

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers

Susan Messer on WorldCat :

Selected Titles

Grand River and joy
ISBN: 9780472034291 OCLC: 302414625

University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor : ©2009.

Halloween morning 1966, Harry Levine arrives at his wholesale shoe warehouse to find an ethnic slur soaped on the front window. As he scavenges around the sprawling warehouse basement, looking for the supplies he needs to clean the window, he makes more unsettling discoveries: a stash of Black Power literature; marijuana; a new phone line running off his own; and a makeshift living room, arranged by Alvin, the teenaged tenant who lives with his father, Curtis, above the warehouse. Accustomed to sloughing off fears about Detroit's troubled inner-city neighborhood, Harry dismisses the soaped window as a Halloween prank and gradually dismantles Alvin's lounge in a silent conversation with the teenaged tenant. Still, these events and discoveries draw him more deeply into the frustrations and fissures permeating his city in the months leading up to the Detroit riots.