Episode 29: The Heart of Things Human: Richard Ford in Conversation with Ron Charles

Ford Charles Composite for Podcast

Episode 29 features our April 10th event: The Heart of Things Human: An Evening with Richard Ford. The author was joined onstage at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC by the Washington Post‘s Ron Charles for an evening of discussion about Ford’s life and work. Ford read from his forthcoming work Let Me Be Frank With You, in which the author returns to the story of Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of three previous novels.

Richard Ford has published seven novels and four collections of stories, including The Sportswriter, Independence Day, A Multitude of Sins and, most recently, Canada. Independence Day was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the first time the same book had won both prizes. Richard Ford lives in Maine with his wife, Kristina Ford.

Ron Charles (moderator) is the deputy editor of the Washington Post’s book section and a weekly fiction critic. Before coming to the Post, he was the Books Editor at the Christian Science Monitor. His reviews have won the National Book Critics Circle Award for best criticism and 1st place for Arts & Entertainment Commentary from the Society for Features Journalism. He and his wife, an English teacher, live in Bethesda, Md.

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Episode 28: Phil Klay in Conversation with Jennifer Vanderbes

Klay (left) and Vanderbes (right) - black and white author photos

Episode 28 features a reading by Phil Klay, author of the story collection Redeployment, in conversation with novelist Jennifer Vanderbes, which took place at Hill Center at Old Naval Hospital in Washington, DC on March 14, 2014.

Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Newsweek, the Daily Beast, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. Redeployment is his first book.

Jennifer Vanderbes is the author of the acclaimed novels Easter Island, Strangers at the Feast and, most recently, the The Secret of Raven Point which is set during World War II and explores moral ambiguities of war. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic.

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Episode 27: Ayana Mathis & Justin Torres in conversation with Elliott Holt

Mathis (left), Torres (center), Holt (right)

Episode 27 features our Feb. 24th, 2014 reading “Survival Instincts: First-time Novelists on the Ties That Bind” featuring first-time novelists Ayana Mathis and Justin Torres. They were joined onstage at the Folger Shakespeare Library by fellow first-time novelist Elliott Holt, who moderated discussion between Mathis and Torres. 

Ayana 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, NY.

Justin Torres is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and a recent fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. 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 lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Moderator 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.

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Episode 26: Blake Bailey, Ruth Franklin, and D.T. Max in conversation with Margaret Talbot

Blake Bailey, Ruth Franklin, D.T. Max, and Margaret Talbot

Episode 26 features our Feb. 4th, 2014 reading: “Whose Life Is It, Anyway? The Literary Biographer’s Craft,” featuring readings by Blake Bailey, Ruth Franklin, and D.T. Max, who were led in conversation by author and New Yorker Staff Writer Margaret Talbot. The event took place at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

Blake Bailey is author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, Cheever: A Life, and, most recently, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Bailey’s articles and reviews have appeared in Vanity Fair, Slate, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.

Ruth Franklin is a book critic and a contributing editor at The New Republic. Her first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, was published by Oxford University Press last year. She is currently working on a biography of the American writer Shirley Jackson, to be published by Norton in 2016.

D.T. Max is a graduate of Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. He is the author of, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace and The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two young children, and a rescued beagle who came to them named Max.

Margaret Talbot (moderator) has been a staff writer at the New Yorker magazine since 2003 and was formerly a Contributing Writer for the New York Times magazine. She has also written for the New Republic, the Atlantic, and other publications, and has been a regular on the Slate Double X and New Yorker podcasts. Her first book, The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and my Father’s Twentieth Century, recounts the story of her father’s (stage and screen actor Lyle Talbot) exceptionally long and varied career from 1931-1960.

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Episode 20: MK Asante & Lisa Page at Hill Center

MK Asante (left), BUCK book jacket (center), Lisa Page (right)

Episode 20 of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast features a Hill Center/ PEN/Faulkner Literary Reading Series event held on Sept. 17, 2013 with author MK Asante who read from and discuss his new book, BUCK: A Memoir. Asante was joined in conversation by writer Lisa Page, board member and former president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

MK Asante is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, hip-hop artist, and professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University. He received the Langston Hughes Award in 2009, and won the Jean Corrie Prize from the Academy of American Poets for his poetry collection Like Water Running Off My Back. Asante directed The Black Candle, a film he co-wrote with Maya Angelou, and he directed and produced the film 500 Years Later. ThePhiladelphia Inquirer calls Asante “a rare, remarkable talent that brings to mind the great artists of the Harlem Renaissance.”

 Lisa Page is Acting Director of Creative Writing at George Washington University and a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post Book WorldPlayboyWashingtonian,Savoy and the Chicago Tribune among other publications. He essays and short stories have appeared in the anthologies, Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About RaceGravity Dancers, and Dream Me Home Safely. She is a regular guest on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show Reader’s Review. She is a member of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s board of directors, and its former president.

You can also watch a video of the reading at Hill Center’s Youtube page here.

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Episode 19: Readings from the Summer Supper & Book Club

Summer Supper & Book Club

This summer, PEN/Faulkner’s Summer Supper & Book Club met weekly for seven weeks at Hill Center where we discussed books by area authors Susan Richards Shreve (Plum and Jaggers)Danielle Evans (Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self)David A. Taylor (Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America)Felicia Pride (Patterson Heights), Derrick Weston Brown (Wisdom Teeth), and David Ebenbach (Between Camelots). We had 15 students enrolled in the course, and each week they came prepared to dine and discuss the book of the week. The authors joined us to answer questions and grab a bite, and they were kind enough to let us record short readings of their work. Thus, Episode 19 is a variety pack that includes the participating authors except, unfortunately, David A. Taylor (we had recording difficulties on the day of his visit).

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