Featured Speakers

Jesmyn Ward


National Book Award Winner • Essayist • Memoirist

New York Times bestselling author and MacArthur “Genius” Jesmyn Ward is the first woman and first person of color to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice, for her novels Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones. The American Booksellers Association has called her “the new Toni Morrison.”

Find out more

Kiese Laymon


Bestselling Author • Social Critic • Essayist

Laymon is the author of Heavy: An American Memoir, a fearless and provocative memoir which unpacks what a lifetime of secrets and lies does to a Black body, a Black family, and a nation hunkered on the edge of moral collapse. His next novel, And So On, is forthcoming.

Find out more
Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones


Bestselling Author • Novelist

Dubbed by The Los Angeles Times “a bard of the modern South”, Tayari Jones confronts issues of race, family, and criminal justice reform in her novels. Her latest, the instant New York Times-bestseller An American Marriage, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction and an NAACP Image Award and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection.

Find out more
Dr. Danielle Allen

Dr. Danielle Allen


Political Theorist • Public Intellectual • Cultural Commentator

Harvard’s Dr. Danielle Allen is a political theorist widely known for her work on justice and citizenship. Troubled by the fact that so few Americans actually know what the Declaration of Independence says or how it affects them, the MacArthur “Genius” set out to explore the document with her students in Our Declaration, revealing that our nation’s founding text is not just a historical one but rather an animating force that can change the course of our everyday lives.

Find out more

Piper Kerman


Bestselling Author • Memoirist • Social Justice Advocate

Kerman is a social justice advocate and the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison, the inspiration behind the hit Netflix series. She speaks on resilience, the power of women’s communities, and the urgent need for criminal justice reform.

Find out more
Dr. Allyson Hobbs

Dr. Allyson Hobbs


Author • Essayist • Historian

Dr. Hobbs is the Director of African and African American Studies at Stanford and a contributing writer for The New Yorker. In A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, she examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the US. She is at work on two books, Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights, and a history of Black women’s testimonials of sexual violence in the wake of #MeToo.

Find out more
Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Historian

The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian behind The King Years trilogy, The Clinton Tapes, and The Cartel, Branch addresses civil rights, doctrines of nonviolence, college sports, and more. He was an executive producer on the 2018 HBO documentary King in the Wilderness.

Find out more
Gish Jen

Gish Jen


Cultural Commentator • Novelist • Essayist

Funny, surprising, and observant, Gish Jen is a brilliant chronicler—in both fiction and nonfiction—of America and the immigrant experience. Her newest novel The Resisters imagines a not-so-distant dystopian future that The Washington Post calls “chillingly plausible…gripping”.

Find out more
Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Poet

Beatty, an acerbic and fearless commentator on race and pop culture, is the first American to win the Man Booker Prize for The Sellout. He has been called “one of the shrewdest cultural commentators, and hilarious cutups, of his generation” (Interview).

Find out more
Colum McCann

Colum McCann


National Book Award Winner • Bestselling Author • Novelist

Irish-born author Colum McCann wrote the National Book Award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin and the bestselling Transatlantic. His latest novel is Apeirogon, a boundary-pushing real-life story of two grieving fathers on either side of a seemingly intractable conflict in the Middle East. He speaks on storytelling, self-discovery, social justice, and travel.

Find out more

Masha Gessen


National Book Award Winner • Bestselling Author • Journalist

One of the most trenchant observers of Russia and its history, Masha Gessen is a journalist, activist and bestselling author of nonfiction, including the National Book Award-winning The Future Is History. Their latest, Surviving Autocracy, is a bracing overview of the calamitous trajectory of American democracy under the Trump administration.

Find out more
Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste


Novelist • Essayist • Social Justice Advocate

Mengiste’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 Best Contemporary African Books. Her latest novel, The Shadow King, set during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, examines what it means to be a woman at war.

Find out more

Speakers by Subject

New & Noteworthy

Surviving Autocracy

Praise for Surviving Autocracy

A handbook for an age in which egomania is morphing into autocracy at warp speed.

Kirkus (starred review)

A Saint from Texas

Praise for A Saint from Texas

At once funny and moving, this is a ribald novel of the miraculous-a comic but searing exploration of sin and envy.

John Irving, bestselling author of The World According to Garp

Rodham

Praise for Rodham

In this entertaining political fantasy… Sittenfeld movingly captures Hillary’s awareness of her transformation into a complicated public figure.

Publisher’s Weekly

On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard

Praise for On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard

On Being Human—is heartbreaking and triumphant. And it has plenty to teach us about listening, forgiving, and ultimately, finding peace.

Goop

Sorry for You Trouble

Praise for Sorry for You Trouble

Once again, virtuoso Ford deftly sails the seas and storms of consciousness.

Booklist (starred review)

No Visible Bruises

Praise for No Visible Bruises

Compulsively readable…. As gripping as good fiction, as intimate as memoir and deeply informed, [No Visible Bruises] will save lives.

The Washington Post

 Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril

Praise for Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril

Forthcoming

Fall 2020