Featured Speakers

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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The Lacks Family


The Lacks Family of THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

Members of the Lacks Family from Rebecca Skloot’s New York Times bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks have enthralled university and library audiences across the country talking about Henrietta Lacks’ continued legacy.

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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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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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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.

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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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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.

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Diana Abu-Jaber

Diana Abu-Jaber


Author • Essayist • Memoirist
Dr. Danielle Allen

Dr. Danielle Allen


Political Theorist • Public Intellectual • Cultural Commentator
Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Poet
Dr. Martha Beck

Dr. Martha Beck


Bestselling Author • Life Coach • Inspirational Leader

John Berendt


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Essayist
Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Memoirist
Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Human Rights Advocate
Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber


Pastor • Bestselling Author • Memoirist
Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Journalist
Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Historian

Jessica Bruder


Journalist • Author

NoViolet Bulawayo


Novelist • Essayist • Short Story Writer
Ana Castillo

Ana Castillo


Author • Essayist • Poet
Vikram Chandra

Vikram Chandra


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Memoirist

Justin Cronin


Bestselling Author • Novelist
Dr. Matthew Desmond

Dr. Matthew Desmond


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Urban Ethnographer
Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Novelist
Heidi Durrow

Heidi Durrow


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Essayist
Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Essayist

Dr. Brian Fagan


Archaeologist • Author • Climate Change Historian
Dr. Sheri Fink

Dr. Sheri Fink


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Journalist

David Finkel


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Journalist

Richard Ford


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author • Novelist
Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen


National Book Award Winner • Bestselling Author • Journalist
Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Memoirist
Julia Glass

Julia Glass


National Book Award Winner • Bestselling Author • Novelist
Dr. Alice Goffman

Dr. Alice Goffman


Author • Social Justice Advocate • Urban Ethnographer
Jeff Goodell

Jeff Goodell


Author • Energy & Environment Expert • Investigative Journalist
Dr. Allyson Hobbs

Dr. Allyson Hobbs


Author • Essayist • Historian
Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Short Story Writer
Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon


Author • Energy & Security Expert • Political Scientist
A.M. Homes

A.M. Homes


Novelist • Essayist • Memoirist
Nancy Horan

Nancy Horan


Bestselling Author • Novelist
John Irving

John Irving


National Book Award Winner • Bestselling Author • Screenwriter
Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Travel Writer
Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson


Author • Filmmaker
Gish Jen

Gish Jen


Cultural Commentator • Novelist • Essayist
Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones


Bestselling Author • Novelist

Hillary Jordan


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Screenwriter
Piper Kerman

Piper Kerman


Bestselling Author • Memoirist • Social Justice Advocate

Sue Monk Kidd


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Memoirist
Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Bestselling Author

Jamaica Kincaid


Novelist • Memoirist • Gardener
Lily King

Lily King


Bestselling Author • Novelist

Laura Kipnis


Social Critic • Author • Essayist

Lisa Ko


Novelist • Author • Essayist
Alex Kotlowitz

Alex Kotlowitz


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Documentary Filmmaker

James Howard Kunstler


Social Critic • Journalist • Urban Planning Advocate

The Lacks Family


The Lacks Family of THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS
Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami


Novelist • Author • Essayist

Stephanie Land


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Economic Justice Advocate
Jeanne Marie Laskas

Jeanne Marie Laskas


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Memoirist

Kiese Laymon


Bestselling Author • Social Critic • Essayist
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Women’s Advocate
Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Essayist
Anthony Marra

Anthony Marra


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Short Story Writer
Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Essayist

Imbolo Mbue


Bestselling Author • Novelist
Colum McCann

Colum McCann


National Book Award Winner • Bestselling Author • Novelist
Jeremy McCarter

Jeremy McCarter


Cultural Historian • Bestselling Author
Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste


Novelist • Essayist • Social Justice Advocate
Emily Nussbaum

Emily Nussbaum


TV Critic • Pulitzer Prize Winner • Essayist
Téa Obreht

Téa Obreht


Bestselling Author • Novelist
Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Essayist

Christa Parravani


Essayist • Memoirist • Women's Rights Advocate
Jennifer Pastiloff

Jennifer Pastiloff


Bestselling Author • Memoirist • Mental Health Advocate
Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult


Bestselling Author • Novelist

Sheri Salata


Former media executive • entrepreneur • Memoirist
Eli Saslow

Eli Saslow


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Journalist • Author
Lisa See

Lisa See


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Memoirist
Joshua Wolf Shenk

Joshua Wolf Shenk


Bestselling Author • Essayist • Curator
Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Short Story Writer
Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot


Bestselling Author • Journalist
Rachel Louise Snyder

Rachel Louise Snyder


Journalist • Author • Domestic Violence Advocate

Paul Theroux


Bestselling Author • Novelist • Travel Writer
Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson


Journalist • Author • Tech Industry Expert
Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett


Public Radio & Podcast Host • Bestselling Author • Social Entrepreneur
William T. Vollmann

William T. Vollmann


Novelist • Journalist • Short Story Writer

Jesmyn Ward


National Book Award Winner • Essayist • Memoirist
Edmund White

Edmund White


Novelist • Social Critic • Memoirist