Guest post by Natalia Nebel, co-organizer of Sunday Salon Chicago

Natalia Nebel

A friend of mine brought me to Neighborhood Writing Alliance’s benefit at the Chicago Cultural Center two years ago. I’m still grateful! I became one of NWA’s biggest fans within minutes of walking into the party. You could even call it love at first sight.

After that evening, whenever I have the opportunity to talk about important Chicago nonprofits, I bring up Neighborhood Writing Alliance. I like telling people about its dedicated staff and volunteers, the talented writers who take its workshops, the passion and commitment of its board members and supporters, the exceptional Journal of Ordinary Thought.

When I recently became involved in organizing a reading series called Sunday Salon Chicago, I knew right away that NWA would be the literary organization that we would ask to share our kickoff event.

Sunday Salon’s mission is to feature local and national authors, give Chicagoans who love literature a place to meet, and shine a spotlight on nonprofits that promote reading and writing. The Sunday Salon series was founded in New York City by writer Nita Noveno nine years ago. Sunday Salon has hosted 360 writers since then, and Noveno has expanded Sunday Salon’s mission by developing an online Sunday Salon magazine. We are actually a satellite of New York City Sunday Salon.

I am a writer and translator and I was familiar with Sunday Salon because I read at the Sunday Salon New York City venue a couple of years ago. I loved the experience. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. Before the reading, during break, and then afterwards, I saw people talking, making new friends, sharing information about the literary community, and just having a great time. When I returned to Chicago I found myself wishing for a local Sunday Salon series. I’d heard that it had been introduced to Chicago, but that it had gone into hiatus. Then about seven months ago I received an email from Melanie Pappadis Faranello. She had been the organizer of the Chicago Sunday Salon along with Mike Zapata. Melanie and Nita wanted to start up the series again. They were looking for volunteers. Remembering the fantastic experience I’d had in New York City, I immediately volunteered. I asked Jeanie Chung to join me in the relaunch.

We’re thrilled to be relaunching the series on July 31st at 8 p.m. at Uncommon Ground (1401 W. Devon, Chicago).

Take a look at our lineup!

  • Eileen Favorite, instructor at SAIC and Graham School of Continuing Studies, University of Chicago, and author of the novel The Heroines.
  • Jesus Angel Garcia, author of the transmedia novel badbadbad
  • Alyson Lyon, writer and co-director of Essay Fiesta
  • Robert Rodi, author of numerous novels, comic books and nonfiction books, including his latest, Seven Seasons In Siena: My Quixotic Quest for Acceptance Among Tuscany’s Proudest People
  • And of course, Neighborhood Writing Alliance

For this kickoff event we thought it would be appropriate to have more local writers than visiting ones. I’ve long been familiar with both Robert Rodi and Eileen Favorite’s work, knew they were great readers who are able keep an audience at rapt attention, and so I contacted them. Coincidentally, I had just heard Alyson Lyon read a personal essay she had written for her Essay Fiesta reading series at the Book Cellar. I thought it a powerful piece of work and I immediately asked her to read it for us. I think that having a mix of fiction and nonfiction will make the evening more interesting. Finally, Jesus Angel Garcia was recommended to us by our upcoming guest curator Gina Frangello. We checked out his work and agreed with Gina that he would be the perfect addition to our kickoff.

Gina Frangello will be curating the August reading and Mike Zapata will be curating in September. We want to have a variety of curators in order to keep the point of view fresh.

As more and more bookstores close and bookstore readings dwindle, reading series like Sunday Salon are filling the void. And as many writers begin publishing electronically rather than in print, live readings become the best way for them to get the word out about their work. Neighborhood Writing Alliance, with its workshops and journal, is a vital link in the literary world’s chain. We’re thrilled NWA will be part of our kickoff event.

Sunday Salon will take place the last Sunday of each month at Uncommon Ground. The New York City series has been going strong for nine years now. We hope to follow in their footsteps.

Don’t be shy!  Please join us on July 31st for this free event. Reservations in the listening room guarantee seating: (773) 465-9801.

For more information, visit or check out our Facebook page.