Reading is a highly private and personal activity, yet fiction compels empathy and literature connects individuals. In these heartfelt essays, several originally delivered as the 2013 Mandel Lectures in the Humanities, Wood, a Harvard professor, The New Yorker literary critic, novelist, and author of How Fiction Works, explores the beauty and power of the art of reading. Looking at the essential role books have played in his own life, Wood combines memoir with an eloquent consideration of several works including The Blue Flower, The Emigrants, and Chekhov’s story “The Kiss.”
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Kanter works as a writer for the Center for Community Change, an organization devoted to social justice, and has published two novels as well as many essays and short stories. Her third novel focuses on Della, who finds herself reliving the most painful events of her life when she gets a letter from an old friend she served with as a U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam. A finalist for Forward Reviews Indiefab Award for military fiction, Kanter’s book is a haunting examination of war from the rarely heard female point of view.
Currently a PBS correspondent and a contributing editor at The Washington Post, Hoffman is the Post‘s former Moscow bureau chief and White House correspondent, and won the Pulitzer for The Dead Hand. In his third book, he recreates the secret Cold War career of Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet engineer who became one of the CIA’s most valuable spies. This real-life thriller draws on previously classified archives for a narrative of secret cameras, broken codes, and risked lives.
Growing up with their father, Cistaro, a San Francisco bookseller, and her two brothers, blamed themselves for causing their mother to abandon the family. Still feeling the effects of the guilt and neglect three decades later, when her dying mother contacted her, Cistaro struggled to understand what had happened. Her wrenching and deeply compelling memoir recounts her difficult years both with and without her mother, and her worries that she could inflict similar pain on her own children.
Set in 2026 in a besieged United States, this thriller by two national security experts is filled with the technology and strategy not of fantasy, but of the near future. With his co-author August Cole, a former Wall Street Journal reporter on the defense industry, Singer, author of Wired for War, envisions a 21st-century version of Cold War, one engaged on the traditional fronts of land, sea, and air as well as in cyberspace and outer space.
Assessing his life at age ninety and offering a senior statesman’s thoughts on American politics, former President Carter finds much to rejoice in, along with some regrets. With the remarkable candor that has characterized his public presence from the start, Carter looks back to his rural childhood in the racist south, his submarine experience, his presidency, and the actions of subsequent administrations. He also pays tribute to family and relives the many rich years since he left office, during which he has won the Nobel Peace Prize, established the flourishing Carter Center—which has sent representatives to observe more than a hundred elections—helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity, and has written nearly forty books of memoir, statecraft, fiction, and spiritual inspiration. *President Carter will be signing books only; there will not be a presentation.
In her third book of fiction, Louisa Meets Bear, Gornick, a psychoanalyst and award-winning author of Tinderbox and A Private Sorcery, uses interlinked stories to trace the fate of the unlikely eponymous couple. Ranging in time from 1961 to 2009, and in space from New York to San Francisco to Venice, the episodes offer glimpses of different families and relationships, which serve to complicate and enrich the reader’s view of the protagonists.
While publishing two acclaimed novels, The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower, Makkai has also been writing short stories, many of which have been selected for The Best American Nonrequired Reading and four volumes of The Best American Short Stories series. Her first collection, Music for Wartime, homes in on moments when ordinary private lives intersect with larger, public events, such as a recital of folk songs in a doomed village, or a producer’s manipulation of a romance between participants in a reality show.
Gornick and Makkai will be in conversation with Barbara Meade, Politics & Prose owner emerita.
This event is canceled.
Co-founder of the online literary magazine, Joyland, and the author of Black Coffee Night, Joyland, and Heaven is Small, a Trillium-Award nominee, Schultz has garnered acclaim for her range and exuberant imagination. In her new novel, narrated by Hazel, a blonde grad student pregnant after an affair with her married professor, Schultz charts a strange epidemic that causes fair-haired women to become rabid killers, and as the blondes become dangerous, they are at last taken seriously.
In his first book, Education and the Cold War, Hartman framed the period’s struggle with ideology as “the battle for the school.” Now, looking at change over a wider time period and in a variety of social and political contexts, Hartman, who teaches history at Illinois State, considers the culture wars of the second half of the twentieth century. Bringing insight to the polemics of the 1960s and subsequent decades, Hartman considers the radical rethinking of feminism and abortion, gay rights and affirmative action, charting how the nation struggled to re-envision itself.
For some two decades, Chaney has been an astute observer of popular culture, publishing music and film reviews, features, and essays in venues including Esquire, New York, The Washington Post, and Yahoo.com. Her book examines the enduring cultural impact of Clueless, marking the film’s 20th anniversary with a look back to its roots in Austen’s Emma, tracing Amy Heckerling’s development of the script, the film’s casting, and behind-the-scenes accounts of what went into the costumes and music.
With Richard L. Fox, professor of political science at Loyola Marymount, Lawless, professor of government and director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, explores the growing alienation of young people from politics. Drawing on extensive interviews and surveys of more than 4,000 college and high school students, the book profiles a generation that distrusts politicians yet cares about changing the world; Lawless proposes ways to direct those aspirations into some of the 500,000 elected offices that may otherwise go begging.
Film Producer in Residence at American University and director of its Center for Environmental filmmaking, Palmer has produced some 300 hours of prime-time TV and IMAX nature films, and has won two Emmys, the Frank G. Wells Award from the Environmental Media Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media at the 2009 International Wildlife Film Festival. His 2010 book, Shooting in the Wild, described the history of wildlife filmmaking; now Palmer lays out the ethical issues involved with moviemaking that harasses animals for dramatic effect or distorts the truth about wild habitats. The industry needs to evolve, he argues, and he shows how it can conserve, not manipulate, nature.
This event is canceled.
Published to accompany the interactive exhibit that opened July 2 at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, this book conveys Iceland’s stunning beauty as well as explaining the ongoing geophysical processes that continue to shape these glaciers and fissures, cataracts and geysers. Pitcairn achieved the remarkable color and detail of his natural images by using a digital Hasselblad camera, but also by knowing Iceland’s terrain so thoroughly. The award-winning photographer and filmmaker teamed up with Gudmundsson, a science writer as well as a poet, documentarian, and International Explorer’s Club member who has written or contributed to some thirty books.
Not all mystery writers have had actual experience as private investigators, but it’s worked for Winslow. Winner of the Raymond Chandler Award and the author of some seventeen novels, one of which, Savages, using Winslow’s screenplay, was filmed by Oliver Stone, Winslow now continues the story he began in his gripping 2005 The Power of the Dog. Having put a top Mexican drug lord in prison, DEA agent Art Keller retires. His peace and quiet come to an abrupt end when the convict is transferred from a U.S. to a Mexican prison and violence erupts again—as does Keller’s own struggle with drugs.
When Tom Prousalis was convicted in 2005 as a co-conspirator of Jordan Belfort, the “Wolf of Wall Street,” it might have seemed that justice had been served. But for his family, the trauma of the betrayal didn’t end with Prousalis’s imprisonment. His then-nineteen-year-old-daughter Christina was hit hard by shame, anger, and the material consequences of her father’s downfall, and her memoir is a chronicle of homelessness, substance abuse, and depression, but also of gradual recovery. Moving geographically and emotionally away from the Northern Virginia of her difficult coming-of-age, McDowell has changed her name, lives in LA, and is active with InsideOUT Writers, a nonprofit for children impacted by the criminal justice system.
In his third West Virginia novel, Taylor, author of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and The Marrowbone Marble Company, looks at life in Keystone in 1910. It was an upsetting year: Halley’s Comet cast its baleful influence and Jim Jeffries, “The Great White Hope,” lost his bout with Jack Johnson. Closer to home, the town’s gambler—wanted for armed robbery and murder—is about to be hanged, along with his moll, the local madam. But then other bodies turn up, evidence that the real bad guys are still on the loose.
Taylor will be in conversation with journalist, author, and Book Maven Bethanne Patrick.
If a political memoir can be both funny and illuminating about spin, elective office, and ethics violations, Swaim’s account of his stint as communications officer and speechwriter for Mark Sanford is it. Currently a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, and other publications, Swaim was part of the inner circle of the former South Carolina governor from 2007 to 2010, a period during which Sanford’s affair became public, sorely testing his staff’s faith in political ideals.
Drawing on the latest research from NYU’s Center for Neural Sciences, LeDoux, a professor of science at the Center and the author of The Synaptic Self and The Emotional Brain, looks at fear and anxiety as products of conscious experiences as well as of the brain’s non-conscious processes, a duality that suggests successful treatment calls for both new drugs and fresh methods of psychotherapy. LeDoux’s lucid explanations are at once a fascinating glimpse of how brains work and a source of hope for the forty million Americans suffering from anxiety and related disorders.
Like the protagonist of her deft first novel, Leya is an accomplished composer and musician who grew up in Azerbaijan. Now living in the U.S., Leya recounts the story of a young woman dedicated to using her talents for the greater glory of her Soviet homeland. But when her communist mentor persuades her to spy on the owner of a music shop suspected of counter-revolutionary leanings, she’s torn apart by her conflicting loyalties to art, love, and patriotism.
Paycock Press has published exceptional area writers since 1976, and P&P is delighted to host a reading by two of its newest authors. Nicholson, founding editor of Black Film Review and a former editor and reviewer for The Washington Post “Book World,” celebrates the lives of ordinary Washingtonians in these stories that bring out a mythical, even magical, dimension of everyday occurrences. Richards, a long-time writing teacher at George Washington and former fiction editor of The Washington Review, has published widely in literary magazines. His novel in stories revisits the Civil War, combining the sweep of epic with intimate close-ups of a wide range of individuals—soldiers, wives, widows—touched in various ways by the conflict.
Richard Peabody, founder of Paycock Press, will moderate this event.
From pre-med to the endless shifts of residency and nights on-call, the demands of medical training and practice require intelligence, dedication, and stamina. Dr. John, a Baltimore critical care surgeon who is certified in general surgery, surgical critical care, and hospice and palliative medicine, has gathered the stories of sixty women who have not only become successful surgeons but have made important contributions to their fields. These accounts provide fascinating glimpses of modern medicine, and the unique place women have made for themselves there.
Rakoff’s second book is at once a picture of the New York publishing scene on the eve of the digital age, the personal story of a young writer finding her voice, and a unique profile of J.D. Salinger. Rakoff, who after the experiences recounted here went on to write the acclaimed novel A Fortunate Age, was a budding poet with a narcissistic boyfriend and a threadbare apartment when she found a job with Salinger’s literary agent. Taking charge of the reclusive writer’s fan mail, Rakoff became a kind of epistolary go-between, responding to readers on Salinger’s behalf.
Headline-making natural disasters with devastating consequences for millions of people. But what do we actually know about these literally earth-shaking events? Bestselling author, explorer, journalist, and geologist Simon Winchester explores the science, technology, and societal impact of these inter-connected natural phenomena in When the Earth Shakes.
Simon will be in conversation with the director of the Natural History Museum, Kirk Johnson.
Today the abortion debate is either/or: pro-life or pro-choice. But as Ziegler, Stearns Weaver Miller Professor of Law at Florida State, reminds us, positions were not always this polarized. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with people closely involved in the fight over legalizing abortion in the 1960s and ‘70s, Ziegler takes us back to the first years after the Roe decision, presenting a wide range of arguments and perspectives surrounding the issue—which was not viewed solely in terms of a woman’s right to choose. Rather, activists of all stripes considered race and class as well as gender.
Kumar is a professor of political science at Towson University and the author of the award-winning Managing the President’s Message as well as the co-author of Portraying the President. In her new book, a comprehensive study of the transfer of presidential power, Kumar focuses on the Bush-Obama transition, elucidating the process in general with insights about specific roles, briefings, and trust gleaned from historical precedents back to Eisenhower’s election and interviews with today’s insiders.
The Hurston/Wright Foundation, named for Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, was founded in 1990 by Marita Golden and Clyde McElvene. As part of its mission “to ensure the future of Black writers and the literature they produce,” the Foundation holds a series of workshops for people of color that include public readings. Join us to hear the work of accomplished and emerging poets and writers of fiction and creative nonfiction; speakers include: Breena Clarke, author of Angels Make Their Hope Here and Stand the Storm; Terrance Hayes, award-winning poet whose books include How to be Drawn, Lighthead, and Wind in a Box; Wil Haygood, author of The Butler and the forthcoming Showdown; and Chinelo Okparanta, whose fiction includes Happiness Like Water.
The only American included in Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists,” Markovits sets his seventh novel in the post-financial crisis landscape of Detroit. It’s 2011 and a pair of Yale-educated thirty-somethings decide to revitalize the ailing city. Using Groupon as a model, they carve out New Jamestown and attract a population of upwardly-mobile hipsters—but also inflame Detroit’s socio-cultural tensions, setting off racial incidents and eventually turning against each other.
Markovits will be in conversation with Amy Sullivan, a contributing editor for Time magazine who covers religion and politics, and writes for the magazine's political blog, Swampland.
Hart, Colorado senator from 1975 to 1987 and currently the U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, is both a political progressive and a self-described “political…fundamentalist.” In his latest work of political theory, the author of The Courage of Our Convictions and other books on the goals and practice of politics looks at the founders’ conceptions of the ideal republic. Finding that today’s political institutions increasingly miss the mark their forefathers set, Hart assesses how Congress, the military, the CIA, and other bodies can return to first principles.
Combining fiction with documentary photographs, Brookman, a consulting curator of photography at the National Gallery of Art, lays out parallel truths that don’t so much compete with as complement each other, expanding the notion of “truth” itself. Unfolding during the 1960s and ‘70s, the narrative follows an artist named Kip as he moves between the disparate worlds of New York poets and California laborers. Whatever his ostensible goals, the deeper reason for his restlessness is his struggle to come to terms with his mother’s death.
Brookman will be in conversation with Henry Allen, a journalist, poet, and novelist. He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2000.
A Washington-area pediatrician whose parents left Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion, Hashimi first visited her ancestral homeland in 2002. In her second novel, the author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell follows the fortunes of a family struggling to escape Taliban-controlled Kabul to join relatives in Britain. But when the son is separated from his parents and sister in Greece, the group has to make the painful decision to split up, unsure if they will ever be reunited.
In his tenth book, Shuman, who was instrumental in designing the crowdfunding JOBS act as well as in the founding of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, introduces his concept of “pollinator” enterprises. These are “self-financing entities that stimulate and strengthen other local businesses,” and Shuman presents a range of these successful economic-development programs from around the world, laying out a strong alternative to the usual top-down economies dependent on taxpayer subsidies.
After stints as a park ranger, factory worker, and vendor of cemetery plots, Tevis currently teaches literature and writing at Furman University. Her diverse experience was evident in her first book of essays, The Wet Collection, praised for its arresting blend of factual observation, spiritual inquiry, and lyrical prose. Her second collection, an unflinching study of the end of days, is told with a powerful blend of dialogue, meditation, and travel. Juxtaposing seemingly unrelated topics—Buddy Holly’s death and atomic testing, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and her own experience of giving birth—Tevis uncovers startling truths.
Currently chairman of ERG Partners, Grenier spent the bulk of his career in the CIA, where he held pivotal roles including Chief of Station for Pakistan and Afghanistan and Director of the Agency’s Counterterrorism Center. His discussion of U.S. military action against the Taliban is a thorough look at its intertwined political and strategic considerations, and he offers illuminating assessments of Pakistani intelligence and American policy, including a vivid sense of the individuals involved, from CIA operatives and bureaucrats to generals and ambassadors.
If it once seemed that a thriving upper class was indicative of a healthy economy overall, it no longer does. Rather, Madland shows, the key to economic health is middle class prosperity. In his analysis of disparity in the wake of the financial crisis, Madland, managing director for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, looks in detail at the myth of trickle-down economics.
Madland will be in conversation with Michael Tomasky, editor in chief of Democracy and special correspondent for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
With co-author and co-editor Anne L. Naclerio, deputy surgeon, U.S. Army Europe, and member of the Surgeon General’s Women’s Health Task Force, Dr. Ritchie, a former army psychiatrist and now a professor of psychiatry, has produced the first comprehensive volume on women’s experience in the military. With contributions from a wide range of doctors, psychologists, epidemiologists, and other experts, the book examines in detail the challenges to physical and mental well-being faced by the nearly 300,000 female military personnel deployed since 9/11.
Like the war it commemorates, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was steeped in controversy and conflict at every stage of its planning and execution. Doubek, who served in Vietnam as an Air Force intelligence officer and who has since been part of State Department projects involving new U.S. embassy and consulate compounds, gives a detailed insider’s history of the planning, design, and reception of Maya Lin’s powerful black granite wall.
With some 162 games to play, Major League baseball holds the title for longest sports season. Starting with spring training, players pace themselves to get through it all, developing a rhythm they call The Grind. In this account of a year in the lives of players, coaches, and their close relations, Svrluga, author of National Pastime, a franchise history of the Washington Nationals, and a longtime Washington Post sportswriter, expands on his earlier reporting with detailed looks at The Grind’s emotional and physical effects.
Lester has recently been visiting assistant professor at Georgetown, as well as senior fellow at the university’s Center for Security Studies. She is also a research fellow and lecturer at the University of California, Washington Center, and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In her timely and thorough analysis of government oversight and secrecy, Lester looks at the oversight mechanisms of all three branches, as well as the CIA. She considers how these tools developed historically, how they affect each other, and how they can be improved.
So, why go to a library when you’ve got the Web at your fingertips? Mann, a Library of Congress general reference librarian for more than thirty years, reminds us that in fact, there’s a lot we don’t have access to on the open internet, and that any substantial overview of a subject requires working beyond Wikipedia and search engines. This clear and useful handbook is a great resource, directing users to the many books and journals ineligible for digitization due to copyright laws but available at a good research library, along with a wide range of electronic subscription-only databases.
Join us for a reading by some of the most exciting new voices in literary fiction and poetry. Jackson’s first novel reverses the usual immigration trajectory as family difficulties send two sisters from Brooklyn back to Barbados to live with their grandmother. The girls have different responses to their exile and to their grandmother’s practice of obeah—differences that intensify when their father returns, and they must chooses one side of their parentage or the other. Naomi Jackson will be joined by: Chinelo Okparanta, who relocated to this country from Nigeria when she was ten. Her first novel, Under the Udala Trees, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this fall. Rion Amilcar Scott, who teaches English at Bowie State and has published short fiction in literary magazines; his first collection of stories, Wolf Tickets, will be published by Tiny Hardcore Press. Morowa Yejidé, whose first novel, Time of the Locust, was widely praised and nominated for several awards, including the PEN/Bellwether Prize. And celeste doaks, a poet and journalist who teaches creative writing at Morgan State; her first collection of poems is Cornrows and Cornfields, published by Wrecking Ball Press.
A long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, Finnegan has written four books, including Dateline Soweto and Crossing the Line; his honors include two Overseas Press Club Awards. In his new book this veteran observer of socio-cultural change and political events keeps his international focus but turns the lens on himself. Charting a passion for surfing that he’s indulged on beaches from San Francisco and Hawaii to Australia and Asia, Finnegan’s memoir is by turns an adventure, an ethnographic study, and an intellectual coming-of-age story.
What started by chance when Mosler impulsively asked a Buenos Aires taxi driver to take her to his favorite restaurant has become Mosler’s passion, her “Taxi Gourmet” blog, and, now, this lively memoir about traveling, food, and serendipity. Mosler, trained in anthropology, has a sharp eye for the telling detail of cultures, people, and restaurants; originally from California, she now lives in Berlin and has written for New York magazine, the Travel Channel, and many other venues.
In her first book Winfrey-Harris, a journalist with a vital online and print presence, responds to a 2010 Essence report finding that 93% of black women are disturbed by the images they find of themselves in media, music, and entertainment. Tackling the caricatures head-on, Winfrey-Harris looks at the myths black women have faced since their arrival in North America and defuses the caricatures with stories of real women.
Beryl Markham (1902-1986) was the first woman to fly solo east to west across the Atlantic, a feat she chronicled in West with the Night. Less familiar are the details of this adventurous woman’s personal life, and these are the stories that McLain, author of the best-selling novel of Hadley Richardson’s marriage to Hemingway, The Paris Wife, tells in her new novel. Starting with Markham’s abandonment by her mother, McLain recounts the unconventional childhood that led to her later passions, including the entanglement with Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton.
Director of the Carey Institute’s nonfiction residency program and an Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton, Weiner has won the Pulitzer for reporting on secret government programs and the National Book Award for Legacy of Ashes. In his fifth book, the veteran New York Times national security and foreign correspondent revisits the spectacular fall of Richard Nixon, drawing on recently declassified documents to look afresh at the Vietnam War, Watergate, and, most of all, the tormented, tragic figure at the center of these events.
An award-winning writer even before he published his first novel, The Tourists, Hobbs took a break from fiction to research and write this life of Robert Peace, his roommate at Yale and a gifted young scientist who was shot and killed in a Newark drug lab nine years after graduating. What happened? Hobbs looks back to his friend’s impoverished youth, the brilliance and hard work that made him an admired teacher and coach, as well as at the legacy of poverty and dysfunction that made him a drug dealer. This is a story as devastating as it is illuminating.