Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Donna Seaman  

Pen Name: 


Audience: Adult; Young Adult;


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Illinois Connection

Seaman lives in Chicago. Her radio show, ''Open Books'', is broadcast on WLUW in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Donna Seaman is Editor of Adult Books for Booklist and a member of the advisory council for the American Writers Museum. She has reviewed for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among others. A recipient of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, she edited and created the fiction anthology ''In Our Nature: Stories of Wildness''. She has also won several Illinois Arts Council Awards for her radio program ''Open Books''. Seaman created her radio show ''Open Books'' in 1994, and has been co-producer and host ever since, conducting interviews with dozens of fiction writers, poets, essayists, memoirists, and nature writers. Her author interviews are collected in ''Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books''. She has written biocritical essays for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Writers on the Air: Conversations About Books
ISBN: 1589880218

Paul Dry Books. 2005

Writers on the Air brings to print for the first time Donna Seaman's vibrant author interviews from her Chicago-based radio program, Open Books. In these conversations, authors discuss their inspirations, their favorite books, their working and research habits. Seaman also connects the author's books with other writing, creating “constellations” of related books and ideas to introduce readers to wonderful writing they might not discover on their own.

Seaman created her radio show Open Books in 1994, and has been co-producer and host ever since, conducting interviews with dozens of fiction writers, poets, essayists, memoirists, and nature writers.

Writers on the Air includes interviews with Diane Ackerman, Margaret Atwood, Lynda Barry, Madison Smartt Bell, Dennis Bock, T. C. Boyle, Peter Carey, Sandra Cisneros, Wade Davis, Chitra Divakaruni, Stuart Dybek, Julia Glass, Lee Gutkind, Aleksandar Hemon, Edward Hirsch, Edward P. Jones, Ward Just, Jamaica Kincaid, Alex Kotlowitz, Chang-rae Lee, Alan Lightman, Phillip Lopate, Barry Lopez, Alice McDermott, Anchee Min, Sy Montgomery, Kate Moses, Joyce Carol Oates, Alex Shakar, Paul West, Colson Whitehead, and Terry Tempest Williams.

Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists
ISBN: 1620407582

Bloomsbury USA. 2017

An award-winning writer rescues seven first-rate twentieth-century women artists from oblivion--their lives fascinating, their artwork a revelation.

Who hasn't wondered where-aside from Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo-all the women artists are? In many art books, they've been marginalized with cold efficiency, summarily dismissed in the captions of group photographs with the phrase "identity unknown" while each male is named.

Donna Seaman brings to dazzling life seven of these forgotten artists, among the best of their day: Gertrude Abercrombie, with her dark, surreal paintings and friendships with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins Bay Area self-portraitist Joan Brown Ree Morton, with her witty, oddly beautiful constructions Los Mailou Jones of the Harlem Renaissance Lenore Tawney, who combined weaving and sculpture when art and craft were considered mutually exclusive Christina Ramberg, whose unsettling works drew on pop culture and advertising and Louise Nevelson, an art-world superstar in her heyday but omitted from recent surveys of her era.

These women fought to be treated the same as male artists, to be judged by their work, not their gender or appearance. In brilliant, compassionate prose, Seaman reveals what drove them, how they worked, and how they were perceived by others in a world where women were subjects-not makers-of art. Featuring stunning examples of the artists' work, Identity Unknown speaks to all women about their neglected place in history and the challenges they face to be taken as seriously as men no matter what their chosen field-and to all men interested in women's lives.


The James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism Pushcart Prize Special Mentions

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)