2022 SVWC Presenters
CASEY CEP is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, which was a New York Times bestseller and named one of the best books of 2019 by the Washington Post, The Economist, TIME Magazine, and President Barack Obama. She graduated from Harvard College with a degree in English, then earned an M.Phil in Theology at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her family.
Photo Credit: Kathryn Schulz
ANTHONY DOERR is the author of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the Alex Award, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won five O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. His novel Cloud Cuckoo Land was published on September 28, 2021 and is a finalist for the National Book Award. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.
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RITA DOVE was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar, she attended Miami University of Ohio, Universität Tübingen in Germany, and the University of Iowa, where she earned her creative writing MFA in 1977. In 1987 she received the Pulitzer Prize for her third collection of poetry, Thomas and Beulah, and from 1993 to 1995 she served as U.S. Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress. Author of a novel, a book of short stories, essays, and eleven volumes of poetry, she also edited The Best American Poetry 2000 and The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011), as well as weekly poetry columns for The Washington Post from 2000 to 2003 and The New York Times Magazine from 2018 to2019. Her drama The Darker Face of the Earth opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1996 and the Kennedy Center in Washington in 1997, followed by its European premiere at the Royal National Theatre in London in 1999. Her song cycle Seven for Luck, 7 poems with music by John Williams, was premiered by Cynthia Haymon with the Boston Symphony in 1998, and her song cycle A Standing Witness, 14 poems with music by Richard Danielpour, was originally sung by Susan Graham at the Kennedy Center and other venues in 2021. Also in 2021 W.W. Norton published Rita Dove’s latest volume of poems, Playlist for the Apocalypse.
Dove’s numerous honors include Lifetime Achievement Medals from the Library of Virginia and the Fulbright Association, the 2019 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the 2021 Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as the sixteenth (and third female and first African-American) poet in the Medal’s 110-year history. In 1996, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and, in 2011, the National Medal of Arts from President Obama—making her the only poet ever to receive both medals. To date, 28 honorary doctorates have been conferred upon Ms. Dove, most recently by Yale University, Emory University, Smith College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan. She has served as president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), as a chancellor of Phi Beta Kappa and as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. A member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she teaches at the University of Virginia, where she is the Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing.
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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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JUDITH FREEMAN is the author of five novels, including The Chinchilla Farm and Red Water and, most recently, MacArthur Park, as well as a collection of short stories, Family Attractions, a biography of Raymond Chandler, The Long Embrace, and a memoir, The Latter Days. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction, as well as a Western Heritage Award, and has been a research fellow at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford and the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. Her essays and reviews have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She lives with her husband, artist-photographer Anthony Hernandez, with whom she has collaborated on several projects, and divides her time between Idaho and Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Anthony Hernandez
LAUREN GROFF is the author of six books of fiction, the most recent the novel Matrix (September 2021). Her work has won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand Prix de l’Héroïne, was a three-time finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and the Kirkus Prize, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Prize, the Southern Book Prize,and the Los Angeles Times Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. Her work has been translated into over 30 languages. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.
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ELIZABETH KOLBERT traveled from Alaska to Greenland, and visited top scientists, to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. Her book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a book about mass extinctions that weaves intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field began as an article in The New Yorker. It was a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year and is number one on the Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of all time.
The Sixth Extinction also won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014. In 2019, it was the chosen book for the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program, and was also named as one of Slate’s 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years. Her new book is Under a White Sky:The Nature of the Future (Random House, February 9, 2021).
Growing out of a groundbreaking three-part series in The New Yorker (which won the 2006 National Magazine Award in the category Public Interest), Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change brings the environment into the consciousness of the American people and asks what, if anything, can be done, and how we can save our planet. She explains the science and the studies, draws frightening parallels to lost ancient civilizations, unpacks the politics, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most—the people who make their homes near the poles and, in an eerie foreshadowing, are watching their worlds disappear. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year (2006) by The New York Times Book Review.
Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999. She has written dozens of pieces for the magazine, including profiles of Senator Hillary Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Her series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” appeared in The New Yorker in the spring of 2005 and won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine award. Also in 2006, she received the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award in the newspaper/magazine category and was awarded a Lannan Writing Fellowship. In September 2010, Kolbert received the prestigious Heinz Award which recognizes individuals who are addressing global change caused by the impact of human activities and natural processes on the environment. She also won a National Magazine Award in the Reviews and Criticism category for her work in The New Yorker, the Sierra Club’s David R. Brower Award, and the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union. In 2016 she was named the 12th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism. In 2017 she received the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2019 she was the recipient of the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square.
Elizabeth Kolbert’s stories have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Mother Jones, and have been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Political Writing. She edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. A collection of her work, The Prophet of Love and Other Tales of Power and Deceit, was published in 2004. Prior to joining the staff of The New Yorker, Kolbert was a political reporter for The New York Times.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Whitman
SEBASTIAN MALLABY is the Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An experienced journalist and public speaker, Mallaby contributes to a variety of publications, including Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times, where he spent two years as a contributing editor. He is the author of five books, most recently The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future.
Mallaby’s interests cover a wide variety of domestic and international issues, including central banks, financial markets, the implications of the rise of newly emerging powers, and the intersection of economics and international relations. His previous book, The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan, winner of the 2016 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and the 2017 George S. Eccles Prize in Economic Writing. More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite, was described by New York Times columnist David Brooks as “superb”; it was the recipient of the 2011 Loeb Prize. Mallaby’s earlier works are The World’s Banker, a portrait of the World Bank under James Wolfensohn that was named as an “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times; and After Apartheid, which was named by the New York Times as a “Notable Book.” An essay in the Financial Times said of The World’s Banker, “Mallaby’s book may well be the most hilarious depiction of a big organization and its controversial boss since Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker.”
Before joining CFR, Mallaby served eight years as a columnist and editorial board member at The Washington Post and spent thirteen years with The Economist. While at The Economist, he worked in London, where he wrote about foreign policy and international finance; in Africa, where he covered Nelson Mandela’s release and the collapse of apartheid; and in Japan, where he covered the breakdown of the country’s political and economic consensus. Between 1997 and 1999, Mallaby was The Economist’s Washington bureau chief and wrote the magazine’s weekly Lexington column on American politics and foreign policy. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist: once for editorials on Darfur and once for a series on economic inequality. In 2015, he helped to found a startup, InFacts.org, a web publication making the fact-based case for Britain to remain in the European Union.
Mallaby was educated at Oxford, graduating in 1986 with a first class degree in modern history. After 18 years in Washington, DC, he moved to London in 2014, where he lives with his wife, Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor in chief of The Economist.
IMBOLO MBUE is the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. The novel has been translated into eleven languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and optioned for a miniseries.
Her new novel, How Beautiful We Were, is about what happened when a fictional African village decided to fight against an American oil company that had been polluting its land for many years.
A native of Limbe, Cameroon, Mbue lives in New York.
Photo Credit: Kiriko Sano
HEATHER MCGHEE’s specialty is the American economy—and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?
McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Mississippi to California to Maine, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm—the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country—from parks and pools to functioning schools—have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.
But in unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.
The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. McGhee marshals economic and sociological research to paint an irrefutable story of racism’s costs, but at the heart of the book are the humble stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy’s collateral victims: white people themselves. With startling empathy, this heartfelt message from a Black woman to a multiracial America leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than zero-sum.
YASCHA MOUNK is a writer, academic and public speaker known for his work on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy.
Born in Germany to Polish parents, Yascha received his BA in History from Trinity College, Cambridge, and his PhD in Government from Harvard University. He is now an Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, where he holds appointments in both the School of Advanced International Studies and the Agora Institute. Yascha is also a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Founder of Persuasion.
Yascha has written three books: Stranger in My Own Country – A Jewish Family in Modern Germany, a memoir about Germany’s fraught attempts to deal with its past; The Age of Responsibility – Luck, Choice and the Welfare State, which argues that a growing obsession with the concept of individual responsibility has transformed western welfare states; and The People versus Democracy – Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, which explains the causes of the populist rise and investigates how to renew liberal democracy. His latest book has been translated into eleven languages, and hailed as one of 2018’s Best Books of the Year by multiple publications, including the Financial Times. Next to his work for The Atlantic, Yascha also occasionally writes for newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs. He is also a regular columnist or contributor for major international publications including Die Zeit, La Repubblica, l’Express, Folha de Sao Paolo, Kultura Liberalna, and Letras Libres.
Photo Credit: Steffen Jaenicke
EVAN OSNOS is a staff writer at The New Yorker, a CNN contributor, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Based in Washington D.C., he writes about politics and foreign affairs.
He was the China Correspondent at The New Yorker from 2008 to 2013. His first book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, won the 2014 National Book award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2020, he published the international bestseller, Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, based on interviews with Biden, Barack Obama, and others. His latest book, Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury, was published in September 2021.
Prior to The New Yorker, Osnos worked as the Beijing bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, where he contributed to a series that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Before his appointment in China, he worked in the Middle East, reporting mostly from Iraq. He and his wife, Sarabeth Berman, have two children.
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KATHRYN SCHULZ is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Lost & Found, forthcoming from Random House in January of 2022. She won a National Magazine Award and a Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for “The Really Big One,” an article about seismic risk in the Pacific Northwest. Lost & Found grew out of “Losing Streak,” which was originally published in The New Yorker and later anthologized in The Best American Essays. Her other essays and reporting have appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Food Writing. She is also the author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. A native of Ohio, she lives with her family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
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NATASHA TRETHEWEY served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of five collections of poetry, Monument (2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award; Thrall (2012); Native Guard (2006), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002); and Domestic Work (2000), which was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. She is also the author of the memoir Memorial Drive (2020). Her book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Northwestern University she is a Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. In 2012 she was named Poet Laureate of the State of Mississippi and and in 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Photo Credit: © Nancy Crampton
OCEAN VUONG is the author of The New York Times best-selling novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and the recipient of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant. He is also the author of the award-winning poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, and winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, other honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize. Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Granta, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst.
Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams
TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS is a conservationist, an advocate for free speech, and the author of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family & Place and Finding Beauty in a Broken World.
Terry Tempest Williams has been called “a citizen writer,” a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. “So here is my question,” she asks, “what might a different kind of power look like, feel like, and can power be redistributed equitably even beyond our own species?”
Williams, like her writing, cannot be categorized. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda.
Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Terry Tempest Williams is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert; The Open Space of Democracy; Finding Beauty in a Broken World; and When Women Were Birds. She is a columnist for the magazine The Progressive. She also wrote The Story of My Heart by Richard Jeffries, as rediscovered by Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams, in which she and Brooke Williams expand upon the 1883 book by Richard Jeffries. Her book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, honored the centennial of the National Park Service, was a New York Times bestseller, and also won the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association 2016 Reading the West Book Award. Her most recent book is Erosion: Essays of Undoing, a collection of wide-ranging essays that explore the many forms of erosion we face: of democracy, science, compassion, and trust.
In 2006, Williams received the Rober t Marshall Award from The Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award given by The Center for the American West. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. In 2009, Terry Tempest Williams was featured in Ken Burns’ PBS series on the national parks. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. Williams also received the 2017 Audubon New York Award for Environmental Writing. In 2019 Terry Tempest Williams was given The Rober t Kirsch Award, a lifetime achievement prize given to a writer with a substantial connection to the American West and was also elected as a member into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Williams has served as the Annie Clark Tanner Fellow in the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities Graduate Program which she co-founded in 2004; and was the Provostial Scholar at Dar tmouth College, serving as a Montgomery Fellow twice. Williams is currently writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit: Zoe Rodriguez
Also joining us . . .
Also joining us . . .
(photos and full bios will be posted soon)
Barbara Lazear Ascher, Author, Columnist & Book Reviewer