While the University attracts a diverse array of authors and speakers from around the world to Ann Arbor, very few events celebrate the Midwest itself as a literary region. This is no coincidence — the Midwest, often unfairly, has never been considered a hotbed for writers and artists in the same way that other parts of the country, like New York or San Francisco, have. West Coast, East Coast and Southern authors can all claim their region as part of their identity as a writer. Even Canadians have pride in their literary tradition.
Springfield Street, a short stretch of asphalt on Detroit’s east side, used to have so many elm trees shading the road that Detroiters could barely see the sky as they drove on their way to the freeway. Passersby would stop for gas after work at Cliff’s, or grab a snack for the road at the Bamboo Bar, and I imagine they’d stand there for a minute and watch the husky flecks of sun come down from the west and nearly stop cold over that dense canopy. In the summer, when the leaves got thick and bristly, the trees gave shade to kids biking and roller-skating down the pavement.
As the new Distinguished International Writer-in-Residence for the Zell Visiting Writers Series, Miéville appeared at a rash of campus events all week, addressing everything from ‘World War Z’ to the Brexit debate.