Ayana Mathis & Justin Torres

Survival Instincts: 
First-time Novelists on the Ties That Bind 

A reading and conversation with Ayana Mathis and Justin Torres, moderated by Elliott Holt

Monday, February 24, 2014
7:30 PM

Purchase a single ticket for $15  (buy)

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 


Ayana Mathis author photoAyana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, her first novel and a New York Times Bestseller, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. She lives and writes in Brooklyn.

“Ms. Mathis has a gift for imbuing her characters’ stories with an epic dimension that recalls Toni Morrison’s writing,” writes Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, “… but her elastic voice is thoroughly her own.”

You can read the full review here, and listen to an interview with Mathis on The Lit Show here.  

Purchase Mathis’s novel. 

Justin Torres author photoJustin Torres is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. Among many other things, he has worked as a farmhand, a dog walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller; he is now a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

In the New York Times Book Review, Charles Isherwood writes of Torres’s novel, “We the Animals [is] the kind of sensitive, carefully wrought autobiographical first novel that may soon be extinct from the mainstream publishing world… An affecting story of love, loss and the irreversible trauma that a single event can bring to a family.”

You can read the full review here and listen to Torres’s TED Talk about the healing power of storytelling here.

Purchase Torres’s novel. 


Elliott Holt author photo by Rebecca ZellerModerator Elliott Holt‘s short fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Guernica, The Millions, the 2011 Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. Her first novel,You Are One of Them, was published in 2013 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for a first book.

Purchase Holt’s novel. 



[Photo credits: Ayana Mathis - Elena Seibert; Justin Torres - Gregory Cowley; Elliott Holt - Rebecca Zeller]