Martel won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Life of Pi, a novel that was at once an iconic seafaring adventure, a moving portrait of human-animal bonding, and an enactment of spiritual questions. In his fifth novel, the author of Beatrice and Virgil and The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios takes another magical plotline—the search for a lost treasure—and gives it a philosophical underpinning. Tomas, living in Lisbon in 1904, finds a journal that sets him on a quest. His actions come to bear decades later on a Portuguese doctor investigating Agatha Christie and, still later, on a Canadian senator who’s come to Portugal to mourn his wife’s death.
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In his third book, Douglas, a novelist and legal scholar specializing in war crimes, builds on his 2009 Harper’s Magazine feature to tell the story of John Demjanjuk. In 1975, Demjanjuk—Ukrainian-born, a U. S. citizen since 1958, and an autoworker in Cleveland—was identified as a former death-camp guard during World War II. Extradited to Israel for a trial, he was first convicted as the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” of Treblinka, only to have that ruling overturned in a notorious case of legal mistaken identity when key evidence proved faulty. Still not the end of this circuitous story, Demjanjuk was retried sixteen years later in Munich and convicted as accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews at Sobibor.
Now a freelance writer and editor, Kalb is a former senior writer at Newsweek and contributor to publications including Smithsonian and Scientific American. Specializing in topics related to health and science, in her first book Kalb uses recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience to understand the behavior of figures from the past. The title points to one case study; others in this intriguing narrative examine Darwin’s anxiety, diagnose Marilyn Monroe with borderline personality disorder, and consider whether Frank Lloyd Wright was a narcissist.
A former U.S. Army Captain, Gallagher wrote a blog while deployed in Iraq which became the basis for his wartime memoir, Kaboom. Recasting his experiences and impressions in fiction, Gallagher, who has an MFA in writing from Columbia, combines criticism of the long military engagement with the story of three brothers serving in Iraq when the Americans decide to pull out.
A decorated veteran who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ackerman set his powerful first novel, now available in paperback, in the latter country, focusing not on soldiers and the conventional battlefield, but on two Afghani brothers. His narrative of Aziz and Ali traces their lives from the remote village suddenly targeted by artillery to their flight and survival as orphans and their education on the street, in the madrassa, and in the hospital.
How many rings were forged by Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth? Excluding monuments, what is the tallest building in D.C.? Put on your thinking cap, grab a drink, and join us for three rounds of mind-bending trivia questions. Prizes will be awarded. Trivia night is open to all ages.
Trivia fun carries on during the P&P Coffeehouse renovation! Please join us: enter through front of the store, then head downstairs and directly to your left to sign up, beginning at 7 p.m. Trivia will start at 8 p.m. in the back of the store.
Beer and wine will be available.
Ali and Zakia grew up on neighboring farms in central Afghanistan, but since they were of different Muslim sects, the two were worlds apart. The pair fell in love anyway and married in 2013—without their parents’ consent. As their families vowed revenge, the couple went into hiding to save their lives. Nordland, whose reporting has won a Pulitzer and several George Polk and Overseas Press Club awards, was The New York Times Kabul bureau chief when Ali and Zakia were condemned, and his account is a vivid look at Afghanistan’s sectarian divisions and the constraints that fall especially heavily on women; the story recalls the assessment of the former Afghan minister for women’s affairs who called the country “the worst place in the world to be
Glenny, the author of The Balkans, Darkmarket, and McMafia, is no stranger to the dark underside of cities and economies. In his sixth book the former BBC Central Europe correspondent, who now specializes in global organized crime, takes readers to one of Rio’s most notorious favelas. Following Antonio, a poor young father trying to survive, if not actually to improve life, in Rocinha, Glenny charts the desperate man’s transformation into Nem, head of a drug cartel in a world also teeming with guns and gold-seekers, corrupt police and rich-kid addicts.
A widely published journalist with a focus on Iran, Secor’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Affairs, and many other publications. Her first book starts with Iran’s 1979 revolution, and shows how the upheaval, instead of leading to an entrenched theocracy, has in fact allowed subsequent generations to develop many different visions of their country. These “children” of the 1979 revolutionaries include not just religious thinkers, but political figures, activists, journalists, and poets, and if the story Secor tells is one of violent repression, it’s equally one of resistance and resilience.
Engel, the award-winning chief foreign correspondent for NBC, got his start as a reporter in the Middle East with freelance assignments that included coverage of an attack on Italian tourists at a Cairo museum. In his third book, following War Journal and A Fist in the Hornet’s Nest, Engel chronicles his twenty years reporting from Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq, where he has filed stories on terrorism, war, and revolution. With extraordinary access to both leaders and foot soldiers, victims and activists, Engel presents a vivid and panoramic view of recent Middle East events.
★★This event is cancelled.★★
Peep is thrilled about her new brother’s impending introduction to the world, but Egg isn’t so sure he wants to leave his cozy, safe shell. In fact, he’s downright determined not to hatch. No matter what activity Peep proposes—from watching a sunrise to splashing in puddles—Egg is just not interested. When Peep finally takes him at his word and leaves him alone, however, Egg realizes that life outside his shell just might be worth living after all. Ages 2–5
Press, former chairman of the California Democratic Party, established himself as one of the country’s top progressive political commentators on CNN’s Crossfire and The Spin Room and as co-host of MSNBC’s Buchanan and Press; his awards include four Emmys and a Golden Mike. In his ninth book, Press assesses Obama’s presidency from a progressive perspective, and finds it disappointing. Looking carefully at the president’s actions on climate change, gun control, health care, and national security, Press repeatedly sees the Obama administration doing too little, getting the priorities wrong, or maintaining an unsatisfactory status quo.
A former New York Times reporter, Bererson was honored with the Edgar Award for best first novel in 2007. The Faithful Spy launched Berenson’s career as a novelist as well as his hero’s exciting series of adventures. Now appearing in his tenth thriller, John Wells finds himself caught between the conflicting interests of the CIA, the White House, and various powerful nations as he struggles to keep tense Iranian-American relations from escalating into war.
In his galvanizing look at America today, United, the U.S. Senator from New Jersey recounts stories and lessons from people who have inspired him and draws on his own experiences at Stanford, Yale Law School, and at Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and in his career in public office, as the former mayor of Newark and his state’s first African American senator. Proposing a new civic discourse employing the watchwords empathy and solidarity, Booker makes a case for his vision of the country’s future with a focus on how we can work together to improve the criminal justice system, create an equitable economy in which all citizens can thrive, and learn to use our natural resources more wisely.
Booker will be in conversation with the Honorable Julián Castro.
This event is sold out.
All books and tickets will be available at will call at 6 p.m. the evening of the event.
Politics & Prose will not have books or tickets available for pick up prior to the evening of the event.
Hénin, a French freelance journalist, has covered Iraq and Syria for most of his career; witnessing the American invasion of Iraq, the fall of Baghdad, and the country’s subsequent turmoil, he saw the conditions that gave rise to ISIS. Then, in 2013, he experienced first-hand the group’s ruthlessness when he was captured and held by ISIS for ten months, part of the time with American journalist James Foley, who was later executed. In his analysis of these new jihadists, Hénin blames the West’s willingness to compromise with dictators, its failure to offer a viable political alternative, and its neglect of repressed populations, who are easily radicalized by groups such as ISIS.
Jansma’s striking first novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, won the Sherwood Anderson fiction award. Now a writing teacher at SUNY New Paltz and a graduate lecturer at Sarah Lawrence, Jansma centers his second work of fiction on a group of college friends. Five years after graduation, the circle includes an astronomer, a blog editor, an art dealer, a would-be poet, and an investment banker. As Jansma traces the twists and turns of his characters’ various relationships, he conveys rich psychological and group dynamics, complicated and tested by romance and serious illness.
In Truthwitch, friends Safiya and Iseult each possess a different magical power: noble-born Safiya can tell lies from truth, and Iseult sees the otherwise invisible ties that bind people together. When war comes to their home of the Witchlands, Safiya in particular must hide her power to avoid becoming a pawn in a fight that threatens to destroy the Witchlands for good.
Dangerous Deception, the second installment of the Dangerous Creatures series, opens with the kidnapping of heroine Ridley, a Dark Caster. Her boyfriend, musician Link, is determined to find her—but he has to decide whom he can trust to help him. Ridley, meanwhile, is suffering at the hands of the nefarious Silas Ravenwood; will she even want to be rescued when he’s done with her?
In Riders, Gideon Blake’s whole life has been focused on joining the Army Rangers—but when he dies in an accident and somehow comes back to life with a cuff on his wrist and a mysterious ability to increase the aggression of everyone around him, it’s clear that things have changed. Then he meets Daryn, a beautiful girl who tells him that he is now War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. He and Daryn embark upon a quest to find the other three horsemen and prevent the evil Kindred from making the apocalypse happen.
Ages 15 and up
Weatherford’s simple yet powerful poem, movingly illustrated by fellow Coretta Scott King honoree R. Gregory Christie, tells the story of Congo Square. Located in New Orleans, it was the sole place where slaves were permitted to gather on their one free afternoon every Sunday from 1817 until the abolition of slavery in 1865. There, both enslaved and free black people expressed themselves and communicated with each other through dance and song, tasting the freedom that was so cruelly denied to so many for so long. Ages 7–10
Best known as an actress, Tamblyn got her start on General Hospital and has been nominated for major awards including an Emmy and a Golden Globe. She has also pursued a successful career as a writer, and has published two collections of poetry, Free Stallion and Bang Ditto. Her third book of poems draws on her intimate experience with performance to evoke the voices and experiences of twenty-five actresses whose lives ended prematurely. Marilyn Monroe is here, as are Frances Farmer, Taruni Sachdev, a teenage Bollywood star, and others both famous and forever aspiring. Tamblyn’s forthright style conveys both her subjects’ emotions and her own powerful feelings about acting, the film industry, and the toll both can take on talented young women.
Bordewich won The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history for his study of the Compromise of 1850, America’s Great Debate; he’s also written on the Underground Railroad and the history of Washington, D.C. His fourth book focuses on the First Federal Congress, in session between 1789 and 1791, which worked to turn the Constitution’s principles into a functional government. As he recreates the discussions and traces the contributions of founders including Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton, Bordewich also lays out a model of consensus and compromise sorely needed in our own times.
Much of what we know about Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) comes from his autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, first published in 1845. But in addition to being a reformer, orator, and author, Douglass was something of a revisionist, and when viewed collectively, his writings reflect his changing sense of self and history. Levine, a professor of English at the University of Maryland, focuses on the variations in Douglass’s oeuvre, and shifts the emphasis from the Narrative to The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass—published in 1881 and revised in 1892—to draw a fresh and illuminating portrait of a man continually refining his ideas, relationships, and identity.
From the inspiring messages of hope and “Yes We Can” to the perhaps inevitable disappointment that the announcement of a post-racial America is premature, the tenure of the first African American president has stirred a wide range of sentiments. What, ultimately, does Obama’s presidency mean? In his eighteenth book, Dyson, a Georgetown professor, award-winning writer, and author of books including Race Rules, Debating Race, and April 4, 1968, reflects on our 44th president, his legacy, and the country’s future.
Canin is an award-winning writer who earned a medical degree—in case the fiction didn’t pan out. Now the author of seven works of fiction, including the story collection, Emperor of the Air, and the novels America America and For Kings and Planets, as well as a writing teacher at Iowa, Canin focuses his latest novel on Milo Andret, an unassuming young mathematical genius. Milo can construct dazzlingly intricate formulas in his mind, but fails at even the most basic relationships. Alienated and depressed, despite his phenomenal career, Milo eventually bottoms out—but bequeaths the dual legacy of genius and embitterment to his son.
Canin will be in conversation with Ron Charles, fiction editor of The Washington Post.
Brennan is a Grammy-award winning record producer for artists including Ramblin Jack Elliott and Bill Frisell; he’s also an international lecturer on topics related to preventing violence, the subject of his first two books, Anger Antidotes and Hate-less. His new book distills many of the lessons of both strands of his career as he examines questions of authenticity in an age of technological glibness. While studios are equipped to produce perfect sound, Brennan continues his quest for a vital, human, and imperfect music, and he shows that what we listen to makes a difference.
Brennan will be in conversation with Joe Lally, a songwriter, singer, former record-label owner, and bassist with Fugazi.
In her second book, Quigley, a lawyer, journalist, and author of The Day the Earth Caved In, tells the story of an important but overlooked step in the civil rights movement. Before Brown v. Board of Education, there was District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc. a case decided in June 1953. Five years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, Mary Church Terrell, age 86 and a charter member of the NAACP, insisted on being served at Thompson’s Restaurant, which, like most D.C. eating establishments, was segregated. Her successful case invalidated restaurant segregation in Washington, upholding antidiscrimination measures that had been on the books since the 1870s.
To tell the story of the NCAA, the mighty sports and entertainment cartel, requires the combined areas of expertise that Nocera and Strauss, writers on business and sports, respectively, for The New York Times, bring to the project. Part of the $13 billion college-sports industry, the NCAA has made millionaires of coaches and athletic directors but left players with poor educations and broken dreams of pro glory. But in 2000 the combination of a lawsuit and a UCLA push for a union to represent players’ interests changed the playing field.
Yanagihara’s first novel, The People in the Trees, drew on the timeless quest for immortality—and its always devastating consequences. In her second work of fiction, now available in paperback, the National Book Award finalist starts with an equally familiar premise—the course of four friends from college to middle age—and takes it in new and stunning directions. Jude is the core of the ambitious group of young men that leaves Massachusetts for New York, but his success as a lawyer is undercut by the life-long effects of childhood abuse and trauma. Yanagihara’s narrative is an insightful portrait of the extremes of endurance and the consolations of friendship.
This event is part of the Politics & Prose and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation Contemporary Fiction Reading Series at Busboys and Poets.
James Garfield was assassinated—but it wasn’t the bullet that killed him. In Forest Lawn Cemetery the thirteenth president, Millard Fillmore, lies near funk legend Rick James, but there’s a reason for this pair of strange eternal bedfellows. Reporting these and other little-known facts, and delving into the stories behind them, Carlson, a host and reporter for New Hampshire Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, has compiled an informative, unusual, and surprisingly cheerful travelogue.
Most discussions of music in the digital age have focused on open access and the ethics of downloading. Ratliff, a New York Times jazz and pop critic for nearly twenty years, and the author of The Jazz Ear, Coltrane, and Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings, looks instead at the sheer wealth of music available today, and considers how this unprecedented diversity changes how we listen. Focusing on musical qualities such as speed, repetition, and harmony, Ratliff explores the music-making traditions of several continents and periods to posit a new aesthetic of listening.
Ratliff will be in conversation with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for The Washington Post.
Hayden, a retired Air Force four-star general, headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005, and was CIA director from 2006 to 2009. Now a principal with the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy, Hayden offers a clear-eyed assessment of national security decisions, both before and after 9/11. Striving for a “straightforward and readable history” of recent policy that includes controversial measures such as surveillance, rendition and targeted killing, Hayden outlines the challenges faced by U.S. security agencies and the options available at the time.
Hayden will be in conversation with Scott Shane, New York Times national security reporter and author of Objective Troy.
Nearly a classic itself by now, Denby’s Great Books recounted the forty-eight-year-old writer’s return to college to catch up on canonical works he’d missed. The experience was a revelation for him, and his latest book recounts his determination to help today’s teenagers get the same satisfaction and pleasure from serious reading. An essayist and film critic for The New Yorker, Denby spent a year in three different schools, public and private, in New Haven, New York City, and Westchester County; he reports on the teachers, the students, and the tenth-grade English curriculum, showing how books, combined with skilled and impassioned instructors, can inspire kids to dive into works like 1984 and Brave New World.
Just as seismologists talk about the Big One, epidemiologists are alert for signs of a major pathogen—Ebola? SARS?—that could sicken as many as a billion people sometime in the next two generations. In her new book, Shah, an award-winning science journalist and the author of The Fever, which chronicled the science and social impact of malaria, draws on a wide range of historians as well as cutting-edge public health experts to describe past pandemics—notably outbreaks of cholera, which emerged in 1817 as a harmless microbe, steadily evolving into a global mass-killer—study how we’ve coped, and describe what we might face next and how we can prevent it.
As a journalist, Range has covered war, politics, and foreign policy all over the map; a former White House correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, he has also been a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and distinguished international visiting fellow at the University of North Carolina, among other academic posts. Now specializing in topics related to Germany, Range in his second book looks at a year that truly changed the world. The future Führer spent a large part of 1924 in prison after the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch—the plot itself brought about by events and conditions that helped form his outlook. While serving his sentence, Hitler honed his ideology through discussions with fellow prisoners and the diverse reading and writing that became Mein Kampf, published in July 1925.
In his comprehensive study of the Federal Reserve, Conti-Brown, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School and co-editor of When States Go Broke, starts with the 1913 Federal Reserve Act and traces the evolution of the Fed’s role through its first century. Debunking the myth that the Federal Reserve Chair wields definitive power, Conti-Brown shows how a number of institutions and figures—elected officials, economists, banks—shape the Fed’s policy. His analysis includes consideration of the Fed’s place in government, its own internal governance structure, and, crucially, how its independence is key to the necessary separation of monetary policy decisions from electoral politics.
Crispin’s first book, The Dead Ladies Project, is a spirited memoir/travelogue/literary essay that defies the depression that sparked it. The creator of the literary blog, Bookslut, Crispin grew disenchanted with her life in Chicago and headed to Europe. Traveling in the footsteps of her artistic heroines (and a few heroes, like William James, Stravinsky, and Maugham), Crispin visited the places where strong, independent women like Rebecca West, Maude Gonne, and Margaret Anderson lived and worked, responding to their achievements with a tart and often skeptical wit. In her second book, The Creative Tarot, Crispin demystifies the esoteric with readings that focus on the practical aspects of the venerable mystic practice. Her five original spreads and stories of artistic inspiration suggest ways that a change of perspective can spark new creativity.
Crispin will be in conversation with Tayla Burney, a producer with The Kojo Nnamdi Show.
Grushin won the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award for her first book, The Dream Life of Sukhanov, a masterful blend of hypnotic fugue states and surreal Soviet reality. In her third novel this subtly experimental writer traces the life of an aspiring poet through the forty rooms that have framed her experience. Named only as Mrs. Caldwell, the protagonist grows up in Moscow, goes to the American South for college, and stays in the U.S. after graduation. As she struggles to write, Grushin’s character is visited periodically by a kind of imaginary critic/mentor, an admonitory figure calling her to account for a life spent increasingly on the mundane business of marriage, children, and entertaining, and less and less on art.
Dionne’s syndicated column appears twice each week in The Washington Post, and he is a regular NPR commentator, as well as a Brookings senior fellow and author of the award-winning Why Americans Hate Politics, Our Divided Political Heart and other works on American public issues. His seventh book is a profile of Goldwater conservatism from the mid-1960s to today’s Tea Party. Arguing that Goldwater’s ideologically rigorous platform harmed the Republican Party by making it inhospitable to moderates, Dionne shows how successive waves of Goldwater conservatives have eliminated all other definitions of “conservative,” including Bush’s “compassionate” variety and Fourth Way, to the detriment of not only the Party—which speaks exclusively for an older, white demographic no longer representative of the nation—but to American politics as a whole.
Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, has twice run for the Republican presidential nomination on a platform that features a flat income tax. Working again with Elizabeth Ames, his co-author on books including Money and How Capitalism Will Save Us, Forbes assesses the current state of the American economy and offers a three-part plan to turn things around. In addition to the flat tax, Forbes proposes a return to the gold standard and a health-care system that puts citizens in charge without interference from government, insurance companies, or employers.
Levinson focuses on Clinton’s life of service in this comprehensive biography spanning Clinton’s childhood in Chicago, her educational experiences at Wellesley and Yale, through to her political life and her current candidacy for President. Ages 9 – 12
Danny is living in the shadow of his older brother, Joey, a hotshot ball player who’s attracting the attention of college scouts. Danny’s parents and even his own baseball team seem to wonder why he’s not as good as Joey, and he’s determined to prove that he is. But how can he move from back-up pitcher to star player? Danny becomes convinced that learning a pitch called The Terminator will solve all his problems, and enlists the help of a mysterious stranger to learn it. Ages 9-11
★★NEW DATE. This event, originally scheduled for January, was postponed.★★
Levinson focuses on Clinton’s life of service in this comprehensive biography spanning Clinton’s childhood in Chicago, her educational experiences at Wellesley and Yale, through to her political life and her current candidacy for President. Ages 9 – 12
The night before an interview, Furo Wariboko goes to bed a young Nigerian and wakes to find he's been transformed into a white man. In this "Kafkaesque satire" (Teju Cole), we follow him as his initial fear and confusion shifts from shame into shameless opportunism. Barrett, who has held fellowships from the Chinua Achebe Center, the Norman Mailer Center, and has won a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency as well as the 2005 BBC World Service short-story competition, reprises the classic “The Metamorphosis” in modern-day Lagos, showing the subtle and not-so-subtle differences our appearance makes. The novel takes on questions of race, social media, even a new career in self-help as we follow Furo's unlikely and illuminating search for identity.
This event is part of the Politics & Prose and PEN/Faulkner Contemporary Fiction Reading Series.