Animal: What Makes Us Human

The Third Coast: Thomas Dyja

2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction

This annual prize, awarded separately for fiction and nonfiction, recognizes recently published works “embodying the spirit of the nation’s heartland.” The prizes are part of the Chicago Tribune’s ongoing dedication to reading, writing, and ideas.

The Third Coast, Thomas Dyja’s elegant, insightful, and intensely knowledgeable book, is subtitled “When Chicago Built the American Dream.” And throughout its 544 pages, Dyja proves the importance of our hometown in defining the 20th century. From culture heroes like Muddy Waters, Sun Ra, and Mahalia Jackson to Richard J. Daley’s politics, and from Mies van der Rohe’s stunning glass-and-steel structures to Ray Kroc’s McDonalds franchises, the pulse of the Midwest reverberated throughout the nation. Dyja, a native Northwest Sider, gives depth and dimension to Chicago’s best-known icons and the city itself. Join him for an illuminating talk sure to make you appreciate all over again why you call Chicago home. He will be joined in conversation by Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune literary editor.

This program is presented in partnership with the Chicago Tribune's Printers Row series.

Speakers and Performers

Thomas Dyja

Thomas Dyja was born and raised on the Northwest Side of Chicago. A graduate of Columbia University, he has worked in publishing for the entirety of his career, beginning as a bookseller, followed by a stint at ICM, Bantam Books, book packager Balliett & Fitzgerald. He is the author of three novels, Play for a Kingdom, Meet John Trow, and The Moon in Our Hands; a biography of civil rights pioneer Walter White; and, most recently, The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream. He lives in New York with his wife and son.

CHF Suggests      Related links and resources for further study

Leaders And Thinkers

Thomas Dyja
Official website
Dyja Talks About Chicago
Chicago Reader profile of the author

Good Reads

Chicago Tribune review
Bill Savage reviews The Third Coast
Chicago Manuals
Rachel Strier's controversial NYT review of three recent books about the third coast, including Dyja's

Online Resources

The Weekend Edition interview
Dyja talks about The Third Coast [audio]