Andrew Sean Greer is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of six works of fiction, including the bestsellers The Confessions of Max Tivoli and Less. Greer has taught at a number of universities, including the Iowa Writers Workshop, been a TODAY show pick, a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, a judge for the National Book Award, and a winner of the California Book Award and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. He is the recipient of a NEA grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
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CRAIG FINN is a Minnesota-bred singer/songwriter based in New York City, perhaps best known as the singer of The Hold Steady. Finn spent the 90s leading Minneapolis indie band Lifter Puller, which released 3 albums and an EP. After relocating to New York, he joined with Lifter Puller member Tad Kubler to form The Hold Steady in 2003. The Hold Steady quickly achieved critical acclaim and a worldwide fanbase with their unique pairing of dense lyrical narratives with big rock guitars. The Hold Steady has released seven LPs, including Thrashing Thru the Passion in 2019. Finn released his first solo album in 2012 with three additional solo LPs put forth since 2015- Faith in the Future, We All Want The Same Things, and 2019’s I Need a New War, which coalesced into a sign-of-the-times musical trilogy. Also in 2019, Finn released his first book, a collection of his lyrics titled “I Can’t Keep Saying Thank You”. In 2020, Finn is working alongside writer Scott Z. Burns on National Anthem, a musical television dramedy in development at AMC. Pitchfork has described Finn as “a born storyteller, who has chosen rock as his medium.”
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T. J. STILES is an American biographer and historian. His first book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, was reviewed on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and received the Ambassador Book Award. His second, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, was honored with the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. His most recent volume, Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, was given the Pulitzer Prize for History and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the California Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. He is currently working on a one-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt. His reviews, articles, and personal essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Smithsonian, Washington Post, Sewanee Review, and Zyzzyva, among other publications. A past Guggenheim fellow and NEH Public Scholar, he serves on the governing boards of the Authors Guild and the Society of American Historians. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Jessica Stiles, and their two children.
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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.
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(photos and full bios will be posted soon)
Sarah M. Broom, Writer & Journalist
William Dalrymple, Author & Historian
David Wallace-Wells, Journalist & Author
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.
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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.
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HEIDI SCHRECK is a playwright, screenwriter, and performer living in Brooklyn. Her most recent play, What the Constitution Means to Me, was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play. Schreck also received two Tony Award nominations for What the Constitution Means to Me for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, the 2019 Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award, the Horton Foote Playwriting Award, the Hull-Warriner Award, and an OBIE. Heidi’s other plays include Grand Concourse, Creature, Mr. Universe, and There Are No More Big Secrets. Her screenwriting credits include I Love Dick, Billions, and Nurse Jackie. Schreck has taught playwriting and screenwriting at NYU, Columbia, Kenyon College, and Primary Stages.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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TOBIAS WOLFF’s books include the memoirs This Boy’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 the North American Martyrs, Back in the World, The Night in Question, and, most recently, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. He has also edited several anthologies, among them Best American Short Stories 1994, A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov, and The Vintage 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. In addition to his most recent work, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency, he is the author of six books and editor or co-editor of more than 50 others on democracy around the world. Diamond teaches courses on democracy at Stanford University, where he is professor by courtesy of political science and sociology, and has consulted for numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the UN, USAID, the World Bank, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the State Department. In 2004 he served as a senior advisor on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
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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.
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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.
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ROGER MCNAMEE began his career in 1982 at T. Rowe Price Associates, where he managed the top performing Science & Technology Fund and co-managed the New Horizons Fund. In 1991, he launched Integral Capital Partners, the first crossover fund (combining later stage venture capital with public market investments), in partnership with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Morgan Stanley & Co. In 1999, Roger co-founded Silver Lake Partners, the first private equity fund focused on technology businesses. In 2004, Roger and his partners launched Elevation Partners, an investment partnership focused on the intersection of media and technology.
With former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris and others, Roger has been engaged in a campaign to trigger a national conversation about the dark side of social media. In that context, Roger has worked closed with members of Congress and their staff.
Roger performs up to 100 concerts a year in the bands Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System, in which he plays bass and guitar. The band’s website enables fans to listen to any song or show and to watch every concert on a computer or smartphone. Moonalice is renowned for the quality of poster art associated with the band. The Moonalice series exceeds 1,050 posters after eleven years. Moonalice’s single “It’s 420 Somewhere” has been downloaded more than 4.6 million times.
Roger is the author of The New Normal, published in 2004 by the Portfolio imprint of Penguin Books, and The Moonalice Legend: Posters and Words, Volumes 1-8. He has served as a technical advisor for seasons two, three, four, and five of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” series. Roger also is a regular guest on “Squawk Alley” CNBC and on Ali Velshi’s show on MSNBC.
In philanthropy, Roger is a co-founder of the Haight Street Art Center and the Center for Counterculture Studies. He also serves on the board of directors for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. Roger is a past member of boards of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Bryn Mawr College, The GRAMMY Foundation, and the operating business of the National Geographic Society. He was also responsible for raising the money that created the Wikimedia Foundation.
Roger holds a B. A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Roger holds four U.S. patents related to MoonTunes and the live broadcast of video to mobile devices.
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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 York Times 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.
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Ambassador SAMANTHA POWER is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School.
From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. In this role, Power became the public face of U.S. opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria, negotiated the toughest sanctions in a generation against North Korea, lobbied to secure the release of political prisoners, helped build new international law to cripple ISIL’s financial networks, and supported President Obama’s path-breaking actions to end the Ebola crisis.
From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, where she focused on issues including atrocity prevention, UN reform, LGBT and women’s rights, the protection of religious minorities, and the prevention of human trafficking.
Before joining the U.S. government, Power was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School.
Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2003. Power is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World (2008) and the editor, with Derek Chollet, of The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (2011). Her most recent book, The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (2019), was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller, and was selected as one of the best books of 2019 by the New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, NPR, and TIME. Power began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe and has twice been named to TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list.
Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She immigrated to the United States from Ireland at the age of 9 and today lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband Cass Sunstein and their two young children.
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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, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
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