Books About Detroit by Female Authors

March is the perfect time to celebrate female authors; here are several who have something to say about Detroit.

Because March is both Women’s History Month and National Reading Month, it seems an ideal time to showcase some women who have written (and often continue to write) about the Detroit area.

And while some pretty big names might come to mind immediately — looking at you, Joyce Carol Oates! — these newer voices deserve some love, too. So our advice? Get these authors on your radar, stat!

Anna Clark

Photograph courtesy of MacMillan

In 2014, University of Michigan grad and past Fulbright fellow Clark edited A Detroit Anthology, a compilation of writings from various Detroiters. More recently, the Detroit- based journalist received national attention (and numerous rave reviews) for her 2018 book The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, which provided an in-depth overview of the crisis and was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, and others.

Lisa Ludwinski

Ludwinski, founder of Detroit’s famous Sister Pie bakery, embodies the scrappy, “Underestimate me — that will be fun!” spirit of Motown in her 2018 cookbook, Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit. After growing up in Milford and attending college in Kalamazoo, Ludwinski moved to New York for a few years, only to return eventually to Michigan and launch a pie business out of her parents’ home. It’s now a brick-and- mortar phenomenon on Kercheval Avenue. Read all about it — and get some primo pie recipes along the way.

Amy Haimerl

Photograph courtesy of Running Press

The converse of Davis, Haimerl and her husband left Brooklyn to make a new home in Detroit, buying an abandoned, 1914 Georgian revival house for $35,000. She tells the story of the couple’s extensive (and expensive) home renovations, as well as the ways in which she came to embrace her new adopted city and community, in the 2016 book Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home.

Ebony Ladelle

Photograph courtesy of Simon and Schuster

This native Detroiter and Howard University grad (who recently moved from New York to Washington, D.C.) scored a home run last year with her debut young adult novel, Love Radio, which was named one of People magazine’s best books of the summer and was featured on the Today show. The book (set in Detroit) tells the star-crossed love story of Prince, a radio love guru with above-average family obligations, and Dani, an aspiring writer who has set her sights on a scholarship and a move to New York City. With this kind of start, I can’t wait to see what LaDelle writes next.

Dominique Morisseau

If Detroit had a dramatist laureate, Morisseau — a MacArthur fellow (an award known as the “genius grant”) and U-M grad — would be an obvious choice, given the award-winning Broadway plays she has written about her hometown. In fact, Morisseau’s penned a three-play cycle called The Detroit Project, consisting of Paradise Blue, Detroit ’67, and Skeleton Crew. Though the playwright calls Los Angeles home these days, Detroit nonetheless seems to be a consistent recurring character in her work, and because Morisseau is a Detroit Public Theatre board member and executive artistic producer, you’re likely to get the chance to see her work on its feet now and then, too!

Bridgett M. Davis

Photograph courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Davis now lives in New York City, where she’s a journalism and writing professor at Baruch College, but her deep Motor City roots nonetheless play a starring role in her work, including the novels Shifting Through Neutral (2004) and Into the Go-Slow (2014). Davis made her biggest splash to date with a 2019 memoir called The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers. In addition to being named a Best Memoir of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews, it earned a spot as a New York Times Editors’ Choice book.

Karen Dybis

Former Detroit News staffer Dybis has written multiple books about the area, including The Ford-Wyoming Drive-In: Cars, Candy, and Canoodling in the Motor City (2014); Better Made in Michigan: The Salty Story of Detroit’s Best Chip (2015); The Witch of Delray: Rose Veres and Detroit’s Infamous 1930s Murder Mystery (2017); and Secret Detroit: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure (2018). She’s even got a brand-new book focused on the history of Detroit-style pizza (called Doughtown) that’s slated for a midyear release, so stay tuned.

This story is part of the March 2023 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our Digital Edition