Featured Speakers

Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Essayist

The bestselling author of the rapturously-received Washington Black, Edugyan writes richly imagined and impeccably researched stories that illuminate complicated truths about race, history, and belonging.

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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).

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Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Essayist

Mathis’s stunning debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was an Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection and named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and NPR. Mathis is the first Black woman to be a permanent faculty member at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A new novel is forthcoming.

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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.

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NoViolet Bulawayo


Novelist • Essayist • Short Story Writer

PEN/Hemingway Prize-winner, Bulawayo is a breakout voice in the literature of the African diaspora. She is the author of We Need New Names, which was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.

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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.”

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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.

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Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson


Author • Filmmaker

TED Fellow Jackson is the author of Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, an essential addition to the national conversation about race and class, and the novel The Residue Years, a powerful reflection on poverty, addiction, and the redemptive power of reading and writing.

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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.

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Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot


Bestselling Author • Journalist

Skloot’s extraordinary debut, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, spent more than seven years on the bestseller lists. More than 100 schools and communities have chosen The Immortal Life for their common read programs and the book has been translated into more than 25 languages and adapted for the screen by HBO and Oprah.

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Speakers by Subject

New & Noteworthy

The Daughters of Kobani

Praise for The Daughters of Kobani

Lemmon has shown us unequivocally what female leadership can do for a society. It is breathtaking to behold.

Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe and War

Hour of the Witch

Praise for Hour of the Witch

Forthcoming

April 2021

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