Madison As Muse

Photography by Hillary Schave (left), photo courtesy Jennifer Chiaverini (middle), courtesy Susan Gloss (right)

How (and where) our city pops up in literature.

As a native Californian, I saw the Midwest through the eyes of a newcomer when I moved here in 2010. I was fascinated by Madison’s cultural particularities, from the cheese curds and porch couches to the complex politics and environmental history. My first book, “The Anatomy of Dreams,” was set on the East Side (I even picked out specific houses for my characters), and the novel I’m working on now is very much a love letter to Wisconsin, though it also travels far beyond.

— Chloe Benjamin, also author of “The Immortalists”

A chapter of my second novel, “Round Robin,” is set in Madison, and I had so much fun writing about State Street, the Dane County Farmers’ Market, and other quintessentially Madisonian places and events. More recently, my novel “Resistance Women” includes several scenes in downtown Madison and on the UW-Madison campus.

— Jennifer Chiaverini, author of thirty-two novels, including historical fiction and the Elm Creek Quilts series, plus “Canary Girls,” which will be published in 2023

My debut novel, “Vintage,” centers on a vintage clothing store on Madison’s east side. In my second novel, “The Curiosities,” the characters live in an artists’ colony run out of a grand home in Madison’s historic Mansion Hill neighborhood. In both stories, I see Madison as not just a setting, but a character.

— Susan Gloss

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