JIA TOLENTINO is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the bestselling essay collection, Trick Mirror. Previously, she was the deputy editor at Jezebel and a contributing editor at The Hairpin. She lives in Brooklyn.
Photo credit: Elena Mudd
ISABEL ALLENDE—novelist, feminist, and philanthropist—is one of the most widely-read authors in the world, having sold more than 74 million books. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her first novel, The House of the Spirits, which began as a letter to her dying grandfather. Since then, she has authored more than 23 bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Daughter of Fortune, Island Beneath the Sea, Paula, The Japanese Lover and In the Midst of Winter. Translated into more than 42 languages. Allende’s works entertain and educate readers by interweaving imaginative stories with significant historical events.
In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes. In 1996, following the death of her daughter, Paula, she established a charitable foundation in her honor, which has awarded grants to more than 100 nonprofits worldwide, delivering life-changing care to hundreds of thousands of women and girls. More than 8 million have watched her TED Talks on leading a passionate life.
She has received 15 honorary doctorates, including one from Harvard University, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, received the PEN Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and in 2018 she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation.
Photo Credit: Lori Barra
LYNNE OLSON is the author of eight books of history, most of which deal in some way with World War II and Britain’s crucial role in that conflict. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called her “our era’s foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy.”
Lynne’s latest book, Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against the Nazis, was published in March 2019. Her two earlier books are Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, and Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour.
Before becoming a full-time author, Lynne worked as a journalist for ten years, first with the Associated Press as a national feature writer in New York, a foreign correspondent in AP’s Moscow bureau, and a political reporter in Washington. She left the AP to join the Washington bureau of the Baltimore Sun, where she covered national politics and eventually the White House.
Lynne lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, Stanley Cloud, with whom she has co-authored two books.
Photo Credit: Tamzin B. Smith
OCEAN VUONG is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds and the New York Times bestselling novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. A recipient of the 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, he is also the winner of the Whiting Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, TheNew Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Photo credit: Peter Bienkowski
Pulitzer Prize winner RITA DOVE is a poet, fiction writer, playwright and educator. The Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and former United States Poet Laureate (1993-1995) won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for her third book of poems, Thomas and Beulah. On the Bus With Rosa Parks (1999) was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; Sonata Mulattica received the 2010 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, while Collected Poems: 1974-2004 won the 2017 NAACP Image Award.
Dove’s play The Darker Face of the Earth was produced at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Royal National Theater in London, among other venues. She has collaborated with composer John Williams on the song cycle Seven for Luck, which premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1998, and written the song cycle Standing Witness for composer Richard Danielpour, to be premiered at Tanglewood in the summer of 2020.
Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of the first African-American research chemist in the tire industry. A 1970 Presidential Scholar as one of the hundred best high school graduates in the nation that year, she attended Miami University of Ohio and, as a Fulbright Scholar, Universität Tübingen in Germany; she received her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1977. She holds honorary degrees from 28 universities, including Harvard and Yale. Among her numerous honors are also the 1996 Heinz Award and the 2019 Wallace Stevens Award. She received the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama — the only poet ever to receive both medals.
Photo Credit: Fred Viebahn
TOBIAS WOLFF’s books include the memoirs ThisBoy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of the Lost War; the short novel The Barracks Thief; the novel Old School, and four collections of short stories, In the Garden of theNorth American Martyrs, Back in the World,The Night inQuestion, and, most recently, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. He has also edited several anthologies, among them Best American Short Stories1994, A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, and TheVintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. His work is translated widely and has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story, the Story Prize, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English, Emeritus, at Stanford. In 2015 he received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.
Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger
LEA CARPENTER graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and has an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was valedictorian. She is a Contributing Editor at Esquire and wrote the screenplay for Mile 22, a film about CIA’s Special Activities Division, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and John Malkovich (2018). She is developing Eleven Days for television with Lucy Donnelly (Grey Gardens) and Gideon Raff (Homeland). She lives in New York.
Photo Credit: Huger Foote
ELLIOT ACKERMAN is a National Book Award finalist, author of the novels Waiting for Eden, Dark at the Crossing, and Green on Blue, and of the nonfiction book Places and Names. His work has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Best American Short Stories, among other publications. He is both a former White House Fellow and a Marine, and he served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart.
Photo Credit: Huger Foote
GEOFF DYER is the author of many books including the novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, But Beautiful (about jazz), Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, Zona (about Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker) and, most recently, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy (on the film Where Eagles Dare). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. His books have won numerous prizes and have been translated into 24 languages. He currently lives in Los Angeles where he is Writer in Residence at the University of Southern California.
Photo Credit: Matt Stuart
Patrick Radden Keefe
Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at the New America Foundation. Previously the author of The Snakehead and Chatter, Keefe’s latest bestselling book Say Nothing is a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and its devastating repercussions. Keefe’s work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, New York, and The New York Review of Books, among others and he is a frequent commentator on NPR, the BBC, and MSNBC. Patrick received the 2014 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, for his story “A Loaded Gun,” was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016, and is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Say Nothing received the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing and has been longlisted for the National Book Award.
Photo credit: Ilene Squires
LAILA LALAMI was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of four novels, including The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, and The Other Americans, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Her essays have appeared in The Nation, Harper’s, the Guardian, the Washington Post, and the New York Times Magazine. She is the recipient of fellowships from the British Council, the Fulbright Program, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. She lives in Los Angeles. Her new book, a work of nonfiction called Conditional Citizens, will be published in May 2020.
Photo credit: April Rocha
SUSAN ORLEAN is the author of eight books, including The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup; My Kind of Place; Saturday Night; and Lazy Little Loafers. In 1999, she published The Orchid Thief, a narrative about orchid poachers in Florida, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film, Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep. Her book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, won the Ohioana Book Award and the Richard Wall Memorial Award. In 2018, she published The Library Book, about the arson fire at the Los Angeles Public Library. It won the California Book Award and the Marfield Prize, and was nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Medal.
Orlean has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992, and has also contributed to Vogue, Rolling Stone, Outside, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine. She has written about taxidermy, fashion, umbrellas, origami, dogs, chickens, and a wide range of other subjects. She was a 2003 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow. She is currently adapting The Library Book for television.
Photo Credit: Noah Fecks
LAURA SECOR is a journalist and editor and the author of Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran, which was a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction and for the Lionel Gelber Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker,The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and other publications. She is currently the web editor of Foreign Affairs and has in the past been a staff editor at The New York Times Op-ed page, reporter at The Boston Globe, deputy editor of The American Prospect and senior editor at Lingua Franca. A past fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and at the American Academy in Berlin, she has taught journalism at New York University, Bard College, and Princeton University.
Photo Credit: Nina Subin
JAMES GEARY is the deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, editor of Nieman Reports, and former editor of the European edition of Time magazine. He is the author of Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It, I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists, the New YorkTimes bestseller The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism, and The Body Electric: An Anatomy of The New Bionic Senses. Geary has performed, given talks and / or conducted writing workshops at, among other venues, TED, Live from the New York Public Library, the Chautauqua Institution, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Hay-on-Wye Festival, the Genoa Science Festival, and the Seoul Digital Forum.
Photo credit: Maciek Nabrdalik
Also joining us . . .
(photos and full bios will be posted soon)
Larry Diamond, Political Sociologist & Professor
Craig Finn, Musician & Songwriter
Andrew Sean Greer, Novelist & Short-Story Writer
Roger McNamee, Technology Author & Musician
Heidi Schreck, Playwright & Actress
T. J. Stiles, Biographer
David Wallace-Wells, Journalist & Author
Plus others to be announced soon…
GEORGE PACKER is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author, most recently, of Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century. He has published five other works of nonfiction, including The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, a New York Times bestseller, which won the 2013 National Book Award for non-fiction, and The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author of two novels and a play, Betrayed, based on a New Yorker article, which ran five months Off Broadway in 2008 and won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.
Packer has been a Guggenheim Fellow and twice a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2016-17 he was a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library and a New America Foundation Fellow.
Photo credit: Michael Lionstar
TAYARI JONES, is the author four novels, most recently An American Marriage. Published in 2018, An American Marriage is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and also appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list as well as his end-of-the-year roundup. The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), Aspen Words Prize, and an NAACP Image Award. With over 500,000 copies in print domestically, it has been published in two dozen countries.
Jones, a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Her third novel, Silver Sparrow, was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016.
Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is an A. D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University and a Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.