Meg Wolitzer

Celebrated American novelist and chronicler of contemporary American life, Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Interestings; The Uncoupling; The Ten-Year Nap; The Position; The Wife; and, most recently, the YA novel Belzhar. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. She is a frequent book critic for NPR's "All Things Considered," and a member of the creative writing faculty at Stony Brook. The Washington Post called her bestselling novel, The Interestings, "a sprawling, marvelously inventive novel...ambitious and enormously entertaining." It is "a supremely engrossing, deeply knowing, genius-level enterprise...The novel is thick and thickly populated. And yet Wolitzer is brilliant at keeping the reader close by her side as she takes her story back and forth across time, in and out of multiple lives, and into the tangle of countless continuing, sometimes compromising, conversations." (Chicago Tribune)

Click here to read The Atlantic's interview with Meg Wolitzer

Timothy Egan

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, popular columnist, and National Book Award-winning author Timothy Egan is an acclaimed writer and veteran chronicler of the West whose interests range wide across the American landscape and American history. Egan is the author of several books, including The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2009 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. The Big Burn is also the inspiration for a new documentary also titled The Big Burn on The American Experience (PBS) in early 2015. Egan’s book The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, a work Walter Cronkite called "can’t-put-it-down history," won the 2006 National Book Award for nonfiction. Egan is featured prominently in Ken Burns' acclaimed 2012 film, The Dust Bowl.

His most recent book, a "riveting biography" (Boston Globe) of the famous photographer of American Indians, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward S. Curtis, was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly and was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The Wall Street Journal said, "Egan fills his chronicle with bright turns of phrase and radiant descriptions, making both places and people come alive...A sweeping tale about two vanishing ways of life." His weekly online column for The New York Times, the popular "Opinionator," is consistently among the most read pieces on the New York Times site.

Click here to watch Timothy Egan discuss the West and the importance of connecting to the land

Roxane Gay

"A strikingly fresh cultural critic" (Ron Charles, The Washington Post,) novelist and essayist Roxane Gay took the literary world by storm with her collection, Bad Feminist. Elizabeth McCracken compared reading Bad Feminist to "staying up agreeing and arguing with the smartest person you've ever met." Gay, a first-generation Haitian-American raised in the Midwest, is also author of the novel An Untamed State, a harrowing, powerful story of a privileged woman kidnapped for ransom in Haiti; more broadly, it's a meditation on political and sexual power and the rage boiling in that country of extreme poverty. "Clear your schedule now! Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. An Untamed State is a novel of hope intermingled with fear, a book about possibilities mixed with horror and despair," (Edwidge Danticat). Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, and Salon, and many others. Her latest book Hunger from Harper will be released in 2016.

Click here to read The Washington Post's Q&A with Roxane Gay

Leslie Jamison

"Leslie Jamison stitches together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon." (NPR) Brilliant, profound and poetic, writer Leslie Jamison skyrocketed to national fame with her New York Times bestseller, the essay collection The Empathy Exams. Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, it's a exploration of the possibilities, texture, and limits of compassion. It was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The New York Times, and Publishers Weekly. The Gin Closet, Jamison's debut novel, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times' First Fiction Award and one of The San Francisco Chronicle’s best books of the year. Booklist called the novel “hauntingly beautiful.” Jamison's articles, essays and fiction have appeared in many publications including Harper’s, The Believer, Oxford American, Tin House, and Virginia Quarterly Review. A graduate of Harvard College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has taught courses in fiction and nonfiction at Wesleyan University, Yale University, and the New York University School of Journalism.

Click here to read Tin House's interview with Leslie Jamison

Laila Lalami

Novelist Laila Lalami is one of the most exciting and original voices in contemporary fiction, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, longlisted for the Orange Prize longlist, and, most recently, The Moor's Account. The Moor's Account is a stunning work of historical fiction: the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America, a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record. In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés. As this dramatic chronicle unfolds through the story of the first black slave in the New World whose name we know -Estebanico- we see that black men played a significant part in New World exploration, and that Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. Lalami’s novel illuminates the ways in which stories can bring forgotten history to life. The Moor’s Account was a New York Times Notable Book, a Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, an NPR Best Book of the Year, a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Times, and in many anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. Winner of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

Click here to read the LA Times review of Laila Lalimi's The Moor's Account

Daniel Mendelsohn

Daniel Mendelsohn draws on his training as a classicist and an unusual intellectual breadth and depth of interests to bring to his criticism of popular culture. The New York Times has said, "Deeply considered, generous in spirit...Mendelsohn just might be our most irresistible literary critic." He is the author of seven books, including the international best selling nonfiction book about his search for information about family members who perished in the Holocaust, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; two collections of essays on books, film, theater and television; and an acclaimed translation of the complete works of the Alexandrian Greek poet, C.P. Cavafy. The Elusive Embrace, his memoir of family history and sexual identity twined around meditations on classical texts, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. In 2002 he published a scholarly study of Greek tragedy, published by the Oxford University Press. His first collection of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken (2008) was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year; his second collection, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and runner-up for the PEN Art of the Essay Award.

Mendelsohn's forthcoming book is about his travels around the Mediterranean with his [now late] father, a scientist, while reading The Odyssey. His essays and reviews have appeared frequently in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and The New York Times Book Review. Mendelsohn has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for memoir, the National Jewish Book Award, and the George Jean Nathan Prize for Drama Criticism. His most recent book, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays From the Classics to Pop Culture, was a finalist for the NBCC award in criticism and the PEN Art of the Essay prize. He teaches at Bard College.

Click here to read Daniel Mendelsohn’s “A Critic's Manifesto” in The New Yorker