Diana Abu-Jaber
Author │ Memoirist │ Essayist

A novelist and a memoirist, Abu-Jaber is credited with writing the first mainstream Arab-American novel, Arabian Jazz. In her two subsequent books, the novel Crescent and her memoir The Language of Baklava, she continued exploring issues of identity, ethnicity, and the experience of existing between cultures. Her newest novel, Birds of Paradise, tells the story of a family in Miami facing the advent of their runaway daughter’s 18th birthday, while struggling to deal with the pain she caused when she left four years earlier. She is currently at work on a new book, Gracie at the Table.

Selected Books: Origin, The Language of Baklava, Crescent, Birds of Paradise

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John Berendt
Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Essayist

Novelist, journalist, and essayist John Berendt has been called “not just an urbane guide to a city’s secrets,” but also “a state-of-the-art weirdo magnet” by Time magazine’s Richard Lacayo, for the eccentric and enthralling characters in his record-breaking, Pulitzer Prize nominated Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The City of Falling Angels. Berendt’s talent for unraveling cultural, literary, and historical intrigues has served him well as a journalist, as editor of New York magazine (1977-1979), as a columnist for Esquire (1982-1994), and in his current contributions to national magazines and newspapers.

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Ana Castillo
Author │ Essayist │ Poet

“An always skilled storyteller, [Castillo] grounds her writing in . . . humor, love, suspense and heartache–that draw the reader in.”

–Chicago Sunday Sun-Times

In a career spanning three decades, novelist, poet, and essayist Ana Castillo has long been recognized as “one of the most articulate, powerful voices in contemporary Chicana literature” (Elsa Saeta). Steeped in Chicano tradition and deeply invested in the present-day Chicano movement, Castillo’s works transcend boundaries of politics, class, and gender, making her “one of a few Mexican American writers who have attracted the attention of the mainstream reading public” (Ibis Gomez-Vega). Castillo’s most recent novel, The Guardians, traces the lives of Mexican immigrants who illegally cross the border into the U.S. Combining crushing realism with mystical transcendence, The Guardians centers on a family devastated by deaths and disappearances. Ultimately, “Castillo’s incandescent novel of suffering and love traces life’s movement toward the light even in the bleakest of places” (Donna Seaman, Booklist starred review). Castillo will have two books published in 2014: a new novel, Give It to Me, and the 20th anniversary edition of her classic collection of Xicana essays, Massacre of the Dreamers.

Selected Books: The Guardians, So Far From God

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Vikram Chandra
Bestselling Author │ Novelist │ Short Story Writer

Vikram Chandra has been called “that rare thing, a writer who is simultaneously a master story-teller and a master stylist” (The Spectator). Chandra's bestselling novel, Sacred Games, is a sprawling tale of Mumbai's phantasmagoric criminal underworld and the unforgettable figures who populate it. Chandra is also the author of a short-story collection, Love and Longing in Bombay, which The New York Times Book Review called “a considerable achievement, one in which the author marries his storytelling prowess to a profound understanding of India's ageless and ever-changing society.” His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. Chandra has also been honored with the David Higham Prize, the Eurasia Region Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and numerous other awards. A graduate of Pomona College and the University of Houston, Chandra lives in Mumbai and California, where he teaches creative writing at UC Berkeley. His newest book, Geek Sublime was released in India in November 2013. US publication is set for fall of 2014.

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Justin Cronin
Bestselling Author │ Novelist

Justin Cronin, author of the bestselling, genre-bending novels The Passage and The Twelve, has been called “an unlikely heir to America's genre-fiction throne” (The New York Times). A graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Cronin won a PEN/Hemingway Award for his book Mary and O'Neil . Both Mary and O'Neil and his 2004 novel, The Summer Guest, exemplify the kind of delicate yet deliberate writing and memorable character portraits that readers have come to expect from award-winning literary fiction. With 2010's blockbuster The Passage, however, Cronin turned to darker, more gripping fare: a post-apocalyptic world plagued by vampires whose supernatural skills result from a Bolivian virus gone badly awry. The Twelve, the sequel to The Passage, was released in 2012. In contrast to Cronin's first two novels, The New York Times reports, “The Passage and The Twelve vibrate with a different kind of energy: louder, wilder, more unkempt.” Cronin makes his home in Houston, Texas, where he taught for more than a decade at Rice University. He is currently at work on the third volume of his bestselling trilogy.

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Heidi Durrow
Bestselling Novelist │ Essayist │ Social Activist

Durrow’s debut novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, received the 2008 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, a prize established by author Barbara Kingsolver to recognize literary books of merit that address issues of social justice. Based on a true story, Durrow’s best-selling novel explores issues of race, class, identity, and coming of age in contemporary America. Inspirational and eloquent, Durrow was selected as one of Ebony magazine’s “Power 100” and nominated for a NAACP Image Award. The first in her family to attend college, Durrow is a graduate of Stanford, the Columbia School of Journalism, and Yale Law School. After working as a lawyer, she spent several years working for the NFL. Her writing has appeared in The Literary Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Callaloo, Poem/Memoir/Story, The Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Essence magazine, and Newsday. Durrow is an occasional contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered, hosts a regular podcast, The Mixed Experience, and is the founder of the Mixed Remixed Festival.

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Stephen Elliott
Novelist │ Editor-in-Chief of The Rumpus │ Youth Advocate

As a memoirist and novelist, Elliot is hard to categorize. Says BookList of his bestselling memoir, The Adderall Diaries: “With astute insights into anger, despair, drug use, sadomasochism, and the elusiveness of love and justice, Elliott is a poet of pain.” Novels like Happy Baby and A Life Without Consequences are rich with details from his own experience as a ward of the State of Illinois from the age of 13 to 18. As founding editor of the popular online culture magazine The Rumpus, Elliott advocates for strong writing and diversified opinions. This same passion extends into politics with his humorous and insightful chronicle of the 2004 presidential primary, Looking Forward to It. Elliot is a frequent contributor to GQ, Esquire, The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, McSweeney’s, The Sun, and The Huffington Post.

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Richard Ford
Novelist │ Short Story Writer │ Pulitzer Prize Winner

Ford's is a distinctive southern voice, built on the tradition of Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, and William Faulkner. His seven novels (including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day, The Sportswriter and The Lay of the Land) and three story collections are “filled with breathing characters and genius-crafted dialogue” (Houston Chronicle). The first author to simultaneously win the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, Ford is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has taught at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, Williams, Northwestern, and Ole Miss. His latest novel Canada was one of The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2012 and The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2012 and the winner of a Carnegie Medal. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Granta, Le Monde, and The New Yorker. Ford’s newest book, Let Me Be Frank With You, is slated for publication in November 2014. Comprised of four novellas and set against the backdrop of Hurricane Sandy, the stories are narrated by Frank Bascombe.

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Connie May Fowler
Bestselling Author │ Novelist │ Memoirist

Set in the lush landscape of her native South, Fowler’s gritty fiction (The Problem with Murmer Lee, Before Women Had Wings) examines the conflict between traditional and contemporary cultures and how people navigate difficult relationships. Fowler is also the author of the bestselling memoir When Katie Wakes, and her novel Before Women Had Wings was made into an Emmy Award-winning movie by Oprah Winfrey. She has been a professor of creative writing, and her essays have appeared in the New York Times, the London Times, the International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. Her latest novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, is “a huge-hearted, ebullient novel,” populated with “an exuberant cast of unruly characters”.

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Elizabeth Gilbert
Bestselling Author │ Short Story Writer │ Memoirist

Annie Proulx has called her “a writer of incandescent talent.” Best known for her 2006 runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is unquestionably one of her generation's most beloved memoirists. Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold more than ten million copies worldwide, is Gilbert's memoir of soul-searching and international exploration in the wake of her devastating divorce. Gilbert is a distinguished journalist who began her career writing for Harper's Bazaar, Spin, The New York Times Magazine, and GQ. In 2002, her book The Last American Man was a Finalist for the National Book Award. Gilbert's latest novel, The Signature of All Things, is a sweeping story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning across much of the 19th century. It has been lauded by O Magazine as “the novel of a lifetime" and praised by the Washington Post as "that rare literary achievement: a big, panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its age." It was named as one of the Best Books of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, NPR, and Time Magazine

Selected Books: The Signature of All ThingsThe Last American Man, Eat Pray Love, Committed

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Alice Hoffman
Bestselling Author │ Novelist │ Short Story Writer

Bestselling author of The Third Angel, Practical Magic, Here on Earth (a 1998 Oprah Book Club selection) and many other titles, Hoffman is also a beloved young adult author. Her recent YA books include The Green Witch and Incantation, which tells the story of the persecution of Jews in medieval Spain. Several of her books have been adapted into films, including Practical Magic and Aquamarine. Her 2011 bestseller, The Dovekeepers, is an epic tale that recounts the fall of Masada. It is being made into a mini-series scheduled to air on CBS in 2015. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison calls the novel a “beautiful, harrowing, a major contribution to twenty-first-century literature.” Her latest spellbinding novel, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, is set in early 1900s New York City and employs Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy of finding the magical amid the ordinary in her mesmerizing new novel” (USA Today). She also has a new novel for middle-grade readers, Nightbird, set to release in Spring 2015.

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A.M. Homes
Novelist │ Memoirist │ Essayist

The critically acclaimed and incendiary author of Music for Torching, The End of Alice, and This Book Will Save Your Life turned inward with her 2007 memoir The Mistress’s Daughter. In it, she chronicled her experiences as an adoptee and the painful and confusing issues she confronted while uncovering her heritage and identity. Homes’ latest novel, May We Be Forgiven, was described as “not just one of the best novels of the past few years, [but] also the most deeply, painfully American” by NPR. It is the winner of the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize). Homes is a frequent contributor to ArtForum, Harper’s, Granta, and The New Yorker.

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Hillary Jordan
Bestselling Author │ Novelist

Hillary Jordan's first novel, Mudbound, was published in 2008 after winning the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, a prize established by author Barbara Kingsolver to recognize literary books of merit that address issues of social justice.  The book won numerous other awards including the Alex Award from the American Library Association.  Her second novel, When She Woke, published to rave reviews, is a dystopian take on The Scarlet Letter that blends hot-button issues such as the separation of church and state, abortion, and criminal justice with an utterly engrossing story, driven by a heroine as layered and magnetic as Hester Prynne herself.

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Sue Monk Kidd
Bestselling Author │ Novelist │ Essayist

Novelist and essayist Sue Monk Kidd gained fame with her debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, a blockbuster bestseller which is considered a modern classic (and adapted into a feature film in 2008). She is also the author of The Mermaid Chair and, more recently, an inspiring memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates, which she wrote with her daughter. Ms. Kidd is also highly regarded for her groundbreaking work in the field of feminine spirituality and feminist theology (God’s Joyful Surprise, When the Heart Waits, and Dance of the Dissident Daughter). Her inspirational lectures explore the themes and meanings of her work; the impetus for her stories and characters; “Southern-ness” in literature; and the intersection of writing, creativity, and soul). Her newest novel, The Invention of Wings chronicles the thirty five-year bond between real life abolitionist Sarah Grimke and one of her family’s slaves. Oprah Winfrey called the book “a conversation changer” and selected it for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Selected Books: The Secret Life of Bees, Traveling with Pomegranates, The Invention of Wings

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Tracy Kidder
Bestselling Author │ Journalist │ Essayist

Kidder’s exceptional and prolific writing career took off in 1983 with The Soul of a New Machine, a book celebrated for its insight into the world of high-tech corporate America that earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Other bestselling works include House, Among Schoolchildren , Old Friends , and Home Town. Regarded as a master of nonfiction narrative, Kidder has enjoyed enormous success with Mountains Beyond Mountains and Strength in What Remains, which have been extremely popular with campus and community Common Read programs. Mountains tells the story of charismatic humanitarian Dr. Paul Farmer and his efforts to address the global health crises of AIDS and TB through his NGO Partners In Health. Strength chronicles the tale of a young medical student, Deo, who survives the ethnic civil war in Burundi and emigrates to the U.S. to find redemption through education and service to others. Both books are masterful accounts of real people who have prevailed against seemingly impossible circumstances to better our world. Tracy Kidder’s writing has appeared in numerous periodicals over the years, including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Granta, and The New York Times. His latest book, Good Prose, is a guide to the craft of nonfiction, written with his long-time editor Richard Todd. He is currently at work on a new book.

Selected Books: Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Strength in What Remains, The Soul of a New Machine, Good Prose

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Dr. Peter Kramer, MD
James Howard Kunstler
Novelist │Urban Planning Advocate │Journalist │Social Critic

The author of eight novels and countless articles and essays, Kunstler is best known for his now-classic works in the literature of urban planning and suburban critique: The Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere. His more recent writings on sustainability and the environment include The Long Emergency, which explores issues of social change, community design and the economics of sustainability through the lens of increasing energy costs and natural resource depletion, and Too Much Magic, which analyzes the various technologies being suggested as magic bullets to the energy crisis. With vision, clarity and a pragmatic worldview, he argues that the time for magical thinking is over and the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work with our neighbors is at hand. Publisher’s Weekly says, “With characteristic curmudgeonly enthusiasm, Kunstler brilliantly if belligerently shows us what a pickle we’re in and how inept we are at dealing with it.” Mr. Kunstler has delivered incisive lectures (which he aptly describes as “stand-up comedy with dark moments”) about urban design, energy issues and new economics to audiences in North America, Australia, Europe and Africa, including the TED Conference, the Aspen Institute’s Environmental Forum, American Institute of Architects, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, sustainability groups, commercial developers, and architecture firms, as well numerous universities such as Yale, MIT, Harvard, West Point, Rice, Rutgers, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, and many others.

Selected Books:  Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic

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Laila Lalami
Author │ Short Story Writer │ Essayist 

Laila Lalami is the Moroccan-born author of the acclaimed short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, the provocative novel Secret Son, and the forthcoming The Moor’s Account. In each of these books, Lalami challenges her audience to reexamine their assumptions about race, national identity, and faith. A powerful and unique voice in any discussion of race, immigration, or religion, Lalami has garnered praise for her “spare elegant prose” (Junot Díaz), “carefully-wrought characters” (Paul Yamazaki), and “sensitive and startling” depictions of Moroccan life (Los Angeles Times). 

Laila Lalami’s writing has been published in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, and The New York Times. Her books have been translated into ten languages and in 2014 she was awarded Morocco's prestigious Wissam Medal. A professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside, Lalami speaks on immigration, Islam and the Middle East, and race in America.

Books: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Secret Son and The Moor's Account:  A Novel

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Ursula K. Le Guin
Bestselling Author │ Novelist │ Poet │ Essayist 

Ursula K. Le Guin has been called “The Queen Mother of Science Fiction.” Over her long and illustrious career, she has published scores of novels, short stories, poems, and essays, and has received numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, the PEN-Malamud, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia; an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls, but she is perhaps best-loved for her YA series, The Earthsea Cycle, and her visionary and now-classic works of science fiction (The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, and The Left Hand of Darkness). Her latest publications are Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems and The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories.

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Jonathan Lethem
Bestselling Author │ Novelist │ Essayist 

Bestselling novelist and 2005 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient Jonathan Lethem has been lauded for his genre-bending fiction and his incisive essays. Raised as the child of a bohemian New York Jewish mother and a “Midwestern-Protestant-nothing” father, Lethem says, “The real religion in our house...was a combination of art and protest and utopian internationalist sentiment.” His novels include Chronic City, Motherless Brooklyn (for which he won the National Book Critics Circle Award), and The Fortress of Solitude among others. His latest novel, Dissident Gardens, is a family epic set in Queens, NY, and follows three generations of all-American radicals. It was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2013. He is also a noted essayist, with two acclaimed collections, The Disappointment Artist and The Ecstasy of Influence, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His writings have appeared in Harper’s, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New Yorker. Lethem is currently the second Roy E. Disney Chair in Creative Writing at Pomona College, succeeding David Foster Wallace.

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Lisa See
Best Selling Author │ Novelist │ Memoirist

In her beloved New York Times bestsellers, including Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the strong bonds between women, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in China Dolls, the story of Asian-American nightclub performers of the 1930s and 1940s, she returns to these timeless themes. This “spellbinding” (O Magazine) novel is See’s fourth instant New York Times bestseller and has been praised by the Miami Herald as “a captivating, profoundly American story.” Her first book, the national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family, traces the journey of her great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family. She was the Publishers Weekly West Coast correspondent for thirteen years and her articles have appeared in Vogue, Self, and More, as well as in numerous book reviews around the country.

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Paul Theroux
Novelist │ Travel Writer │ Short Story Writer │ Critic

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in The Great Railway Bazaar has undergone phenomenal change, and no one has better captured the texture, sights, smells, and sounds of that changing landscape. His highly acclaimed travel books include Riding the Iron Rooster, Dark Star Safari, and Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and his many novels include Picture Palace, The Mosquito Coast, Hotel Honolulu, Blinding Light and The Lower River. His most recent travelogue, The Last Train to Zona Verde, was named by Kirkus Review as one of the Best Books of 2013. In it, Theroux travels across Africa – revisiting sites familiar from his prior work, and charting new territory His stories and essays appear regularly in a variety of magazines, including Time, Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Talk, GQ, and Esquire. His next book, a collection of short stories, will be published in Fall 2014. He is also at work on a travel book about the American South.

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William T. Vollmann
Novelist │ Short Story Writer │ Journalist

William T. Vollmann is a monster, a monster of talent, ambition and accomplishment."

—Los Angeles Times

Brilliant and prolific—with 24 books to date, counting the seven-volume, 3,352-page, Rising Up and Rising Down series—Vollmann has won admiration and accolades from many quarters for his unique voice and quest for “journalistic immediacy.” He is the recipient of the National Book Award for Fiction for Europe Central, the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction (The Atlas), the Whiting Award (You Bright and Risen Angels), nominations for two National Book Critics Circle Awards (Rising Up and Rising Down and Imperial) and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Letters and Arts. His most recent book is Last Stories and Other Stories, a collection of ghost stories. He is currently working on The Dying Grass, the latest novel in the Seven Dreams series.

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Jesmyn Ward
Author │ Novelist │ Memoirist

Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones, the story of a poor black family in the days immediately surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Ward, herself a survivor of Katrina, grew up and still makes her home in DeLisle, Mississippi, a town she fictionalized in both Salvage the Bones and her eloquent debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds. Heralded by the Library Journal for her “fearless, toughly lyrical language,” Jesmyn Ward is a fitting heir to the rich literary tradition of the American South. She confronts poverty, racism, natural disaster, and community devastation with gravitas and grace. Her memoir, Men We Reaped, deals with the loss of five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Lauded as a “modern rejoinder to Black Like Me [and] Beloved,” (Kirkus Reviews) Men We Reaped is a beautiful and painful homage to Ward’s past, her ghosts, and the haunted yet hopeful place she still calls home. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, it has been named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, Kirkus Review, New York Magazine and Time Magazine. Ward currently teaches creative writing at Tulane University.

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Edmund White
Novelist │ Memoirist │ Biographer │Social Critic 

Recognized as a prominent contributor to American arts and letters, novelist, biographer, and gay social critic Edmund White (A Boy’s Own Story, City Boy, Rimbaud, The Flaneur and many others) has also made his mark as a highly accomplished biographer. Genet: A Biography is the definitive work on writer and playwright Jean Genet and the 1994 winner of the National Book Critics Circle award. White also authored the well-received Marcel Proust for the Penguin Lives series in 1999. His newest novel, Jack Holmes and His Friend, was described as a “deep and powerful picture of love, desire, affection, rejection and despair” by NPR’s All Things Considered. In 2014 he published his fourth memoir, Inside a Pearl, about the decades he spent living and writing in Paris. He has taught at many prestigious institutions, including Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Brown, and Yale, and is currently a member of the faculty at Princeton.

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