Elizabeth Strout was born in Portland, Maine, and grew up in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. Her novels include Amy and Isabelle, Olive Kitteridge, Abide With Me, and The Burgess Boys. This interview was recorded in 2013.
Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the United States in 1988 at nine. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, The New Republic, The London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Travel & Leisure, New York Magazine, and other publications His novels include A Replacement Life and Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo.
Elliot Ackerman served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. A former White House Fellow, his essays and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Ecotone, among others. His novels include Green on Blue and Dark at the Crossing.
Kate Manne is an assistant professor of the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University. She was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2011 to 2013 and has a PhD in Philosophy from MIT. Her book is called Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.
Joan Silber's first book, the novel Household Words won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her other works of fiction are In the City, In My Other Life, Lucky Us, Ideas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize, The Size of the World, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Prize in Fiction, and Fools, longlisted for the National Book Award and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her latest novel is called Improvement..
Alice McDermott is the author of eight novels, including National Book Award winner Charming Billy and The Ninth Hour.
George Saunders is the author of four short story collections, including Tenth of December and the novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the 2017 Man Booker Prize.
James Han Mattson is the author of The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves.
Jennifer Egan is the author of several novels and a short story collection. Her book, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times book prize. Also a journalist, she has written frequently in the New York Times Magazine. Her newest novel is Manhattan Beach.
James Longenbach is a poet and critic whose most recent collection of poems, Earthling is a meditation on the ways in which human beings inhabit their knowledge of impending mortality, ranging bemusement to panic. His most recent critical work, Lyric Knowledge: How Poems Get Made is an account of how English-language poems, ranging from the 8th to the 21st century, are constructed from the most basic elements of their medium (diction, syntax, rhythm, figuration, and so on). He has also written widely about modern and postmodern poetry, sometimes emphasizing the historicity of poetic language (Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things) but also exploring the ways in which poems resist their historical location (The Resistance to Poetry).
Matthew Weiner was the writer, creator, executive producer, and director of Mad Men. He also worked as a writer and executive producer on The Sopranos, along with several comedy series, and made his feature film debut in 2014. Weiner's novel is called Heather, The Totality.
Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize.
Bruce Machart's works include the novel The Wake of Forgiveness and the short story collection Men in the Making. His novel was named a Barnes and Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection and a New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice." Chosen as a Top Ten title for 2010 by Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and The Wall Street Journal, the novel was a finalist for the American Booksellers Association's Indie's Choice award and the PEN/USA Literary Prize. Machart lives in Hamilton, Massachusetts.
David Litt is an American political speechwriter and author of the memoir Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years. He is currently the head writer/producer for Funny or Die’s office in Washington, D.C.
Lu Spinney was born in Cape Town and spent her childhood on a farm in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, later moving with her family to the Indian Ocean coast north of Durban. After university, she left South Africa to live in Nice and Paris, before settling in London. Beyond the High Blue Air is her first book.
Eleanor Henderson was born in Greece, grew up in Florida, and attended Middlebury College and the University of Virginia, where she earned her MFA. Her debut novel Ten Thousand Saints was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2011 by The New York Times and a finalist for the Award for First Fiction from The Los Angeles Times. An associate professor at Ithaca College, she lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband and two sons. Her second novel is called The Twelve-Mile Straight.
Jon McGregoris a British novelist and short story writer. In 2002, his first novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize as its youngest contender. His second and fourth novels were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006 and 2017 respectively. In 2012, his third novel was awarded the International Dublin Literary Award. His most recent novel is Reservoir 13.
Kevin McIlvoy has taught creative writing for over twenty-five years. He was Editor in Chief of the national literary magazine, Puerto del Sol at New Mexico State University, and has served on the Board of Directors of two national writing organizations, Council for Literary Magazines & Presses and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. His published works include A Waltz, The Fifth Station, Little Peg, Hyssop, and The Complete History of New Mexico, and 57 Octaves Below Middle C.
Brendan Mathews is the author of The World of Tomorrow. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Ireland, where he taught in the graduate creative writing program at University College Cork. His fiction has twice appeared in The Best American Short Stories and in Glimmer Train, Virginia Quarterly Review, Salon, Cincinnati Review, and other publications in the US and UK. He lives with his wife and their four children in Lenox, Massachusetts, and teaches at Bard College at Simon’s Rock.
Josh Weil is the author of the novel The Great Glass Sea and the novella collection The New Valley, both New York Times Editor’s Choices. A Fulbright Fellow and National Book Foundation 5-under-35 honoree, he has been awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Sue Kaufman Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the GrubStreet National Book Prize, the Library of Virginia’s Award in Fiction, the New Writers Award from the GLCA, and a Pushcart Prize. His new short story collection is called The Age of Perpetual Light.
Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her books include Find Me, The Isle of Youth, and What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us.
Nathan Englander is the author of the novels Dinner at the Center of the Earth and The Ministry of Special Cases, and the story collections For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank—finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His short fiction has been widely anthologized, most recently in 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. Englander's play, The Twenty-Seventh Man, premiered at The Public Theater in 2012. He translated the New American Haggadah and co-translated Etgar Keret's Suddenly a Knock on the Door.
Lily Tuck is the author of seven novels: Interviewing Matisse, or the Woman Who Died Standing Up; The Woman Who Walked on Water; The Double Life of Liliane, Sisters, Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man, which was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction; and The News from Paraguay, winner of theNational Book Award. She is also the author of the biography Woman of Rome: A Life of Elsa Morante. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and are collected in Limbo and Other Places I Have Lived. Lily Tuck divides her time between Maine and New York City.
Paolo Giordano is an Italian novelist. His books include The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Like Family, and The Human Body.
Claire Messud is the author of six novels and one book of novellas including The Woman Upstairs, When the World Was Steady, THe Last Life, and The Emperor’s Children, which was a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Messud has been awarded Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and children. Her latest novel is called The Burning Girl.