Featured Speakers

Kiese Laymon


Bestselling Author • Social Critic • Essayist

Laymon is a Black southern writer and the author of Heavy: An American Memoir, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Long Division. In his observant, often hilarious work, Laymon does battle with the personal and the political: race and family, body and shame, poverty and place. 

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Dr. Imani Perry

Dr. Imani Perry


Public Intellectual • Cultural Historian • Author

In her books, including NAACP Image Award Nominated Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, Imani Perry reflects the beautiful and deeply complex history of Black thought, art, and imagination. Her next book, South to America out in winter 2022, is a narrative journey through the South, positioning it as the heart of the American experiment for better and worse.

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Dr. Allyson Hobbs

Dr. Allyson Hobbs


Historian • Author • Essayist

The Director of African and African American Studies at Stanford, Dr. Hobbs explores how the historical context of discrimination continues to inform the present in A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, and the forthcoming books To Tell the Terrible and Nowhere to Run: African American Travel in Twentieth-Century America.

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Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson


Pulitzer Prize Winner • Author • Cultural Commentator

Pulitzer Prize-winner 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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Stephanie Land

Stephanie Land


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Economic Justice Advocate

Both Land’s bestselling debut memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive and the hit Netflix series adaptation of the same name, recount her story as a single mom navigating the physical, economic, and social brutalities that domestic workers face, all while radiating a parent’s hope and resilience.

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Gish Jen

Gish Jen


Novelist • Essayist • Short Story Writer

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

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Lisa Ko


Novelist • Author • Essayist

Ko’s debut novel, The Leavers, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants from the Philippines, Ko offers “a fresh and moving look at the immigrant experience in America” (Publishers Weekly). She is at work on a new novel, Jackie and Giselle.

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Dr. Ellen Wu

Dr. Ellen Wu


Historian • Author • Cultural Commentator

Historian Ellen Wu is a nationally-recognized authority on Asian-Pacific Americans and the “model minority” myth, which she unpacks in her books The Color of Success and the forthcoming Overrepresented.

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Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste


Award-Winning Author • Novelist • Essayist

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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Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon


Bestselling Author • Journalist • Women’s Advocate

An intrepid chronicler of strong and resourceful women, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the author of three New York Times bestselling books that follow people working to better their communities against long odds. Ashley’s Wartells the story of the US Army’s pilot program to put women on the battlefield, and her latest The Daughters of Kobani, is “an unforgettable and nearly mythic tale of women’s power and courage” (Elizabeth Gilbert) of the Kurdish women leading the battle against ISIS.

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Speakers by Subject

New & Noteworthy

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

Praise for Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

An important memoir that should be required reading for anyone who has never struggled with poverty.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Mad Honey

Praise for Mad Honey

Forthcoming

The Family Roe

Praise for The Family Roe

[A] prodigiously researched, richly detailed, sensitively told account of McCorvey’s strange, and very American, odyssey.

The New Yorker

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Praise for Cloud Cuckoo Land

Ambitious and complex… [Doerr] weaves it all together beautifully.

The Washington Post

A Previous Life

Praise for A Previous Life

Elegant, erudite, raunchy and fun, America’s great Man of Letters is working at the top of his form.

Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

South to America

Praise for South to America

It is given to few people to scale the peaks of the academy and of the public square, but Dr. Perry is one of those precious few. She’s the best of best right now.

Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels

Thank You, Mr. Nixon

Praise for Thank You, Mr. Nixon

Stunning.… Hilarious [and] heartbreaking.… A fresh take on the experience of immigration and exile .

Kirus Reviews (starred review)

Love in the Time of Contagion

Praise for Love in the Time of Contagion

Riveting about what we have used the pandemic to do to, and for, ourselves Kipnis’s book is genuinely enlivening about a terrible thing. This may be just the kind of wit and wisdom we need to do more than merely survive our bad times.

Adam Phillips, author of Attention Seeking

Anonymous Sex

Praise for Anonymous Sex

A diverse array of authors explore human sexuality… creates a fun mystery for the reader… beautifully crafted.

Kirkus Reviews

Fencing with the King

Praise for Fencing with the King

Forthcoming