Deep Dives

Deep Dives has concluded for the season. We will announce a new series next fall – stay tuned!

Deep Dives is series of hour-long, in-depth discussions in which we gather to talk about books we love. Each intimate group (with a small number of participants) is facilitated by a member of the PEN/Faulkner community, and everyone gets to join in the conversation.

Deep Dives are held virtually over Zoom. Instructions to access each event are sent upon registration and again 24 hours before. Please read the book we’ll be discussing prior to the event and come ready to contribute to a thoughtful conversation!    

You can buy tickets for all five Deep Dives at a discounted rate, or you can buy tickets for individual discussions. Tickets are limited—we intend to keep each group small to foster a candid and engaging conversation. Read the books in advance and come prepared with your thoughts, questions, and curiosity!

Jonathan Escoffery, If I Survive You

“An extraordinary debut collection, an intensively granular, yet panoramic depiction of what it’s like to try to make it — or not — in this kaleidoscopic madhouse of a country.”

Fresh Air on If I Survive You

This event was held on January 30, 2024 @ 7 PM ET

Yiyun Li, The Book of Goose

“Sly, profound…For all its surface lushness, this is a novel of meticulous philosophical inquiry.”

The Guardian on The Book of Goose

This event was held on January 16, 2024 @ 7 PM ET

Laura Warrell, Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

“Warrell plays her exceptional first novel with plenty of rhythm and tenderness, delivered in brisk, mordantly gorgeous language.”

Library Journal on Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm

This event was held on November 14, 2023 @ 7 PM ET

Dionne Irving, The Islands

“Electric…These stories linger in the malaise of foreignness as the characters try to form bonds across the boundaries of race, class and culture.”

The New York Times on The Islands

This event was  held on October 24, 2023 @ 7 PM ET

Kathryn Harlan, Fruiting Bodies

“Harlan’s prose is beautiful and vivid, and each story has elements of beauty and horror.”
Publishers Weekly on Fruiting Bodies

“Reading Kathryn Harlan’s Fruiting Bodies was like watching a garden germinate, grow, and unfurl into flowers right before my eyes. Her prose is aching, tender, and fully fabulous in all senses of that word.”
–PEN/Faulkner Executive Director, writer Gwydion Suilebhan

This event was held on September 19, 2023 @ 7 PM ET

Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive

“Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir is a tribute to a life snuffed out by a brutal man and an examination of the Old South colliding with the new. Natasha Trethewey excavates her murdered mother’s life, transforming her from tragic victim to luminous human being. The memoir also illuminates Trethewey’s experience, growing up biracial, in the south, and chronicles her beginning, as an artist, in the midst of a changing America.”

Lisa Page, author, former PEN/Faulkner Board member

This event was held on May 25th, 2022 @ 7 PM ET

Sandor Marai, Embers

Hungarian writer Sandor Marai captures the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as two old, estranged military school friends reunite for a once customary dinner in a secluded woodland castle. The dinner turns into a trial of sorts, as well as an examination of friendship, love, fidelity, and the fallout from the dissolution of old orders, as they exhume the memory of their friendship as well as the memory of a woman they both loved. Embers is, flat-out, one of the most achingly beautiful books that I’ve ever read. I’ve returned to it time and again.

Elliot Ackerman, author, PEN/Faulkner Board member

This event was held on May 11th, 2022 @ 7 PM ET

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys upends the familiar story of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, putting the emphasis not on the governess but on the attic-bound Mrs. Rochester. Was she “mad,” or was her imprisonment due to patriarchal expectations that conflicted with her own upbringing in the Caribbean? It’s a classic not only due to its contemporary shock effects but because Rhys beautifully captures the stark differences between cultures and countries. You’ll never look at Bertha Rochester the same way again.”

Bethanne Patrick, author and critic, PEN/Faulkner Board member and Literary Programs Committee Chair

This event was held on April 7, 2022 @ 7 PM ET.

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

“For nearly two decades, Kate Atkinson has been winning fans on both sides of the Atlantic for her smart and witty detective stories, but her novel, Life After Life, is another kind of mystery altogether… I love this sharply realized, endlessly inventive, and ultimately moving book, and I look forward to exploring what it tells us about the status of girls and women in the 20th century, with side forays into multiverses, the Mitford sisters, and roads not taken.”Louis Bayard, author and PEN/Faulkner Board member

This event was held on October 4, 2021.

Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances

“Although she is perhaps better known for her nonfiction work in the New Yorker, Rivka Galchen’s debut novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, is a gem of mind-bending tragicomic fiction, an amalgam of the enviable left and right brain intelligence possessed by this medical doctor who is also a prolific writer… This brilliant, twisty, whimsical, and very strange book is one of my favorite contemporary novels, my copy heavily annotated and filled with post-it notes. Please join me in a discussion of this brainy and fiercely original novel.”Susan Coll, author and PEN/Faulkner Board President

This event was held on October 12, 2021.

Heidi Schreck and Lynn Nottage

“As Broadway is set to reopen, I wanted to look back at two recent successes from the last few seasons before the shut-down. Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me is a thrilling, innovative exploration of the ways in which our country’s founding ideas intersect with real lives… I also had the privilege of working on a recent DC-area production of Sweat, a deeply literary examination of the intersections between race, class, and gender in a down-and-out town. No one captures thorny, complex human relationships quite as genuinely as Nottage does.”Gwydion Suilebhan, playwright and PEN/Faulkner Executive Director

This event was held on October 18, 2021.

Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend is a rich, transportive, exploration of social class, gender, and an intense friendship between two women in post-war Naples. During our time together, we’ll talk about how Ferrante centers these extremely bright young women in a working class community that would prefer them sidelined and how she conveys the complexities of their emotional life in all its terrifying, wondrous, and brazen fullness.”Lauren Francis-Sharma, author and PEN/Faulkner Board member

This event was held on November 7, 2021.

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