Julie Schumacher Image courtesy Doubleday


Julie Schumacher

Sept. 27
7 p.m.

The English department at the fictional Payne University is near death in Julie Schumacher’s new book, The Shakespeare Requirement. The novel revives the cantankerous Professor Fitger, who debuted in Schumacher’s 2014 novel, Dear Committee Members, a tome that made her the first woman ever awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor. But unlike that story, which used first-person point of view and was written in the form of recommendation letters, The Shakespeare Requirement invites readers to experience academia—and its incessant red tape—from multiple perspectives, including faculty, students, and the higher-ups. The English department facilities make for quite the character as well, and are clearly inspired by the University of Minnesota, where Schumacher has taught for two decades. A book about how the English faculty struggle to agree on a “statement of vision” before the well-endowed econ department takes over what’s left of their budget and office space might not sound riveting, but thanks to Schumacher’s artistry, you’ll be amused and entertained all the way through.