Nicole Mones. Courtesy photo


Author Nicole Mones has won accolades for her ability to interweave the exotic with the romantic in novels crafted with expertise in the highest culinary expression of Chinese cooking.

This fall, Bloomington fans of Mones’ work can take in a number of events and programs devoted to or inspired by her writing, and see her in person when she delivers a free public talk at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on November 16.

Mones will be hosted by the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit group with the mission of supporting the Monroe County Public Library by raising funds through private donations and bringing to Bloomington writers such as Mones in The Power of Words series. Previous guests have included authors Rick Bragg and James McBride.

Shirley Fitzgibbons, chair of The Power of Words committee, cites Mones’ linking of diverse themes with the common thread of Chinese culture as a key component of her work’s appeal. “In her first book,” says Fitzgibbons, “the protagonist is an American in China on an archaeological dig; in the second, she’s an expert on Chinese porcelain.”

Mones’ interest in and knowledge of China sprang from her career as a representative of a textile firm with business in that country. “She learned the language and the culture, traveling back and forth constantly over nineteen years,” says Fitzgibbons. Mones’ career intersected with the end of China’s Cultural Revolution, allowing her unique opportunity to observe and research, beginning in 1977.

Her latest novel, The Last Chinese Chef, centers on an American food writer’s romance with a Chinese-American culinary star. The Bloomington Cooking School will be offering a class inspired by this novel, taught by chef David Davenport, on October 26. Registration is required.

A ticketed meet-the-author reception ($50) featuring Champagne and live music will be at the library after Mones’ free talk. Other activities related to the visit include a public book discussion on November 3, and a class on Chinese culture, food, and traditions presented by Indiana University Lifelong Learning. This class meets November 7, 14, and 16, and the $65 admission fee includes a ticket to the reception.

The full schedule of events is posted on the website,