2018 Featured Presenters
George Saunders is the author of a novel, four collections of short stories, a novella, and a book of essays. His long-awaited novel and most recent book, Lincoln in the Bardo, was awarded the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Saunders’s collection, Tenth of December, was the winner of the 2014 Story Prize and the 2014 Folio Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant, his work has appeared in the O’Henry, Best American Short Story, Best Non-Required Reading, and Best American Travel Writing anthologies. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME in 2013.
(Photo credit: Chloe Aftel)
Scroll over presenter photos for biographies.
Lesley Nneka Arimah
Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and wherever else her father was stationed for work. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the Caine Prize. She is a winner of the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O. Henry Award. In 2017, the National Book Foundation named her a “5 Under 35” honoree, and her story collection What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction. She lives in Minneapolis.
Rick Barot has published three volumes of poetry: The Darker Fall; Want, which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize; and Chord, which received the UNT Rilke Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. It was also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. He directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University and is the poetry editor for New England Review. In 2016 he received a poetry fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.
Sherwin Bitsui is the author of two collections of poetry, Flood Song and Shapeshift. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, an American Book Award, and the PEN Book Award. He is Diné of the Todích’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tlizílaaní (Many Goats Clan), and has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the Native Arts & Culture Foundation.
Molly Brodak is the author of Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir, and the poetry collection A Little Middle of the Night, winner of the 2009 Iowa Poetry Prize, along with three chapbooks of poetry.
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Dowda)
Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day; and many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.
(Photo Credit: Mary Motley Kalergis)
Maud Casey is the author of The Art of Mystery: The Search for Questions; three novels, including The Man Who Walked Away; and a short story collection, Drastic. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, Salon, Poets and Writers, A Public Space, and Literary Imagination. She is the grateful recipient of the Italo Calvino Prize, the St. Francis College Literary Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in Washington, DC, and teaches at the University of Maryland.
(Photo Credit: Zach Veilleux)
Christopher Castellani is the author of three novels–All This Talk of Love, The Saint of Lost Things, and A Kiss from Maddalena–and The Art of Perspective, a book of essays on point of view in fiction. He is artistic director of Grub Street, founder of the Muse and the Marketplace conference, and on the faculty of Bread Loaf and the Warren Wilson MFA program. His fourth novel, Leading Men, for which he received a 2014 Guggenheim fellowship, is forthcoming from Viking in February 2019.
(Photo Credit: Michael Joseph)
Edwidge Danticat is the acclaimed and best-selling author of several books, including The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story; the novels Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Farming of Bones; and the memoir Brother, I'm Dying. She has received many awards and honors, which include the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, two National Book Award finalists, the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Award, the Story Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and others.
(Photo Credit: Lynn Savarese)
LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs
LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is a writer, vocalist, sound artist, and the author of TwERK. Her interdisciplinary work has been featured at the Brooklyn Museum, the Poesiefestival Berlin, Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the 2015 Venice Biennale. Diggs has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, Creative Capital, and the Whiting Foundation. Co-founder and co-editor of Coon Bidness/SO4 magazine, she lives in Harlem.
(Photo Credit: Willy Somma)
Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane (April 2015); Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award; and My Alexandria, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK. He is also the author of three memoirs: the New York Times–bestselling Dog Years, Firebird, and Heaven’s Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World Into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, and the Witter Bynner Prize.
(Photo Credit: Starr Black)
Nathan Englander’s bestselling fiction has propelled him to the forefront of the world of contemporary literature. His work includes What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, a Pulitzer finalist and winner of the Frank O’Connor International Story Award, and For the Relief of Unbeatable Urges, a PEN/Faulkner Award winner. His newest book, Dinner at the Center of the Earth, was praised by Colson Whitehead as “superb: a work of psychological precision and moral force.” He writes and speaks about his literary fiction, inspirations, and Orthodox Jewish upbringing.
(Photo Credit: Juliana Sohn)
Jeffrey Eugenides received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex, which was also a finalist for the NBCC award, as was his novel The Marriage Plot. Eugenides is a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton. His first story collection, Fresh Complaint, was published in October 2017.
(Photo Credit: Marco Anelli)
Rivka Galchen is the author of the novel Atmospheric Disturbances, winner of the William Saroyan International Fiction Prize, and the short story collection American Innovations, winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. She is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin. Galchen received her MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and an MFA at Columbia University, where she was a Robert Bingham Fellow.
(Photo Credit: Curt Richter)
Lauren Groff is the bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, and Fates and Furies, a New York Times–bestselling novel, finalist for the National Book Award and Amazon’s #1 Best Book of the Year. Ron Charles of The Washington Post called it “a clear-the-ground triumph.” Her work has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The Best American Short Stories, and she is recipient of the PEN/O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Lauren’s reflections on her writing craft and the inspiration behind her work captivates audiences. Her upcoming short story collection, Florida, will be published in June 2018.
(Photo Credit: Megan Brown)
Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of two poetry collections, Far District and House of Lords and Commons. He is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, a Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship, and the Larry Levis Prize from the Academy of American Poets, among others. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University and is a contributing editor to the literary journals The Common and Tongue: A Journal of Writing & Art.
(Photo Credit: Teju Cole)
Tyehimba Jess is the author of Olio, which was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, and leadbelly, a National Poetry Series selection, also named one of the Best Poetry Books of 2005 by Library Journal. He is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. Jess is a Cave Canem fellow and Associate Professor of English at the College of Staten Island.
(Photo Credit: Keliy Anderson Staley)
Ha Jin is the author of three volumes of poetry, Between Silences, Facing Shadows, and Wreckage. He has four books of short fiction, Ocean of Words, which received the PEN/Hemingway Award; Under the Red Flag, which received the Flannery O'Connor Award; The Bridegroom, which received The Asian American Literary Award and the Townsend Fiction Prize; and A Good Fall. He has also published eight novels, including Waiting, which received the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award; War Trash, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award; A Map of Betrayal; and The Boat Rocker. He has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is a professor of English and creative writing at Boston University.
(Photo Credit: Jerry Bauer)
Min Jin Lee
Min Jin Lee is the national bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, a Top 10 Novels of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air, and USA Today, and most recently, Pachinko, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, an American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Great Reads, an Amazon Top Ten Books of the month, and a selection of the Book of the Month Club. Pachinko has been featured on NPR’s Morning Editionand Publishers Weekly Radio.
(Photo Credit: Elena Seibert)
Layli Long Soldier
Layli Long Soldier is the author of Chromosomory and WHEREAS. She is a recipient of the NACF National Artist Fellowship, a Lannan Writing Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and The J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from POETRY. She holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Bard College. She resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was the recipient of the Bard Fiction Prize as well as a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Tin House, Granta, NPR, Guernica, and Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. She is the writer in residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.
(Photo Credit: Tom Storm)
Maurice Manning's most recent collection of poetry is One Man's Dark. He lives in Kentucky and teaches at Transylvania University. He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize and is a former Guggenheim Fellow.
(Photo Credit: Steve Cody)
Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya in 1964 and immigrated to the United States in his teens. He received an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University and a PhD from Duke University. He is the author of the poetry collection Tocqueville. He has also translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry and coedited two anthologies of Arab American literature. Mattawa is the recipient of the 2010 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, as well as of fellowships from Princeton University and the MacArthur Foundation. In 2014, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
(Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
Shara McCallum is a Jamaican American poet and the author of five books of poetry, including The Water Between Us, which was awarded the 1999 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, and Madwoman, her most recently published volume. Her work has been widely published in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe, and has been translated into several languages. McCallum has been the recipient of several honors and awards, including a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and a 2011 NEA poetry fellowship. She lives in Pennsylvania and teaches creative writing and literature at Penn State University
Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children was a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, and her book of novellas, The Hunters, were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and her second novel, The Last Life, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Editor’s Choice at The Village Voice. All four books were named New York Times Notable Books 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.
(Photo Credit: Lisa Cohen)
Rajiv Mohabir is an Indo-Caribbean American author of two acclaimed poetry collections—The Taxidermist’s Cut and The Cowherd’s Son—and four chapbooks. He is the winner of the 2015 Kundiman Poetry Prize, a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, a finalist for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry, and has received fellowships from The Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, Kundiman, The Home School, and the American Institute of Indian Studies. He received his MFA in poetry and literary translation from Queens College, CUNY and his PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i. Rajiv is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Auburn University.
(Photo Credit: Sharain Naylor)
Lorrie Moore is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. She is the recipient of the Irish Times International Prize for Literature, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. She was an National Book Critics Circle fiction finalist for Birds of America.
(Photo Credit: Zane Williams)
Cherríe Moraga is a poet, playwright, essayist, and memoirist best known as the co-editor (with Gloria Anzaldúa) of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. The recipient of a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship for Literature, Moraga has published several collections of writings, including: A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness, Loving in The War Years, and Waiting in the Wings. As a playwright, she has received two Fund for New American Plays Awards, the NEA’s Playwrights’ Fellowship, and, in 2017, she directed her newest work, The Mathematics of Love.For over twenty years, Moraga served as an Artist in Residence in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. In 2017, she began her tenure as a Professor in the Department of English at UC-Santa Barbara.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and the author of four books of poetry: Oceanic; Lucky Fish, winner of the Hoffer Grand Prize for Prose and Independent Books; At the Drive-In Volcano; and Miracle Fruit. With Ross Gay, she coauthored Lace & Pyrite, a chapbook of nature poems. Awards for her writing include an NEA Fellowship in poetry and the Pushcart Prize. World of Wonder, her collection of lyric nature essays, is forthcoming. She is professor of English and creative writing in the MFA program of the University of Mississippi.
(Photo Credit: Martin Bentsen)
Sigrid Nunez’s most recent novel is The Friend. She has published six other novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God and The Last of Her Kind. Nunez is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her honors and awards include four Pushcart Prizes, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, the Rome Prize in Literature, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Foundation Award. She teaches in the graduate writing programs at The New School, Brooklyn College, and Boston University.
(Photo Credit: Claire Holt)
Lisa Olstein is the author of four poetry collections, most recently, Late Empire. Recipient of a Hayden Carruth Award, Pushcart Prize, Lannan Writing Residency, Essay Press chapbook prize, she has fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum. She is a member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin.
(Photo Credit: Matt Valentine)
Morgan Parker is the author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, which was selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize and was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award. Parker is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She is an editor for Day One and Little A, and the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel in New York. With Tommy Pico, she co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective.
Jamie Quatro’s debut collection, I Want To Show You More, was a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, O, The Oprah Magazine summer reading pick, and New York Times Editors’ Choice. Named a Top Ten Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in the New York Times and a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker, the collection was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize. She is the recipient of a 2017 Pushcart Prize. Quatro’s debut novel, Fire Sermon, publishes in January 2018.
(Photo Credit: McKenna Quatro)
Mary Ruefle is the author of numerous volumes of poetry and essays, including My Private Property; Trances of the Blast; Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism; and Selected Poems, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Ruefle is the recipient of many honors, including the Robert Creeley Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont.
Chloe Schwenke is an openly transgender Quaker woman whose life’s journey includes living in five countries and working on projects in more than forty, mostly in Africa and the Middle East. As a human rights and peacebuilding activist, an international development practitioner, an academic, one of the first three transgender appointees of the Obama Administration, and the parent of two children, she has committed her life to assisting marginalized groups in some of the world’s most challenging countries. In 2013, she received the National Center for Transgender Equality’s National Public Service Award. She lives in Olney, Maryland.
Bob Shacochis’s first collection of stories, Easy in the Islands, won the National Book Award for First Fiction, and his second collection, The Next New World, was awarded the Prix de Rome from the Academy of Arts and Letters. His novel, Swimming in the Volcano, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He is a contributing editor for Outside.
(Photo Credit: Mace Flagger)
Maggie Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Good Bones; The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry; and Lamp of the Body, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award. She is also the author of three prizewinning chapbooks. Smith’s poems have appeared in the many other journals and anthologies. Her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally and was called the “Official Poem of 2016” by the BBC/Public Radio International, and it has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, among others.
(Photo Credit: Lauren Powers)
Patricia Spears Jones
Patricia Spears Jones is author of four poetry collections, most recently A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems. She is also the author of five chapbooks and two plays for Mabou Mines. The recipient of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, she teaches at the City University of New York and Adelphi University. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
(Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)
Dana Spiotta is the author of four novels: Innocents and Others, a finalist for the Los Angles Times Book Prize; Stone Arabia, a finalist for the NBCC Award; Eat the Document, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Rosenthal Family Prize; and Lightning Field. Spiotta was the recipient of the 2008–2009 Rome Prize in Literature, and the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded her the John Updike Prize. She teaches in the Syracuse University MFA program.
(Photo Credit: Jessica Marx)
Virgil Suárez was born in Havana, Cuba. He is the author of four novels, among them Latin Jazz and The Cutter. He has edited a multitude of anthologies with his wife Delia Poey, including Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction and Little Habana Blues: Cuban-American Literature. With Ryan G. Van Cleave, he has edited the anthologies Like Thunder and Vespers. He is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently 90 Miles: Selected & New. His new collection of stories is The Soviet Circus Comes to Havana. An avid photographer and mixed-media artist, when he is not writing, he is out riding his Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic up and down the Blue Highways of the United States. He lives and works in Florida.
Karen Tei Yamashita
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Letters to Memory, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, I Hotel, and Anime Wong, all published by Coffee House Press. I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award.
Kao Kalia Yang
Kao Kalia Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, which was a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, the Asian American Literary Award, and received the Minnesota Book Award. Her most recent book is the National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated The Song Poet. Kao Kalia Yang, a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, is a member of the Hmong ethnic minority. Born in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, she is now an American citizen and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family.
(Photo Credit: Shee Yang)
AWP Award Series Readers
Scroll over presenter photos for biographies.
Lauren Clark holds a BA in Classics from Oberlin College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, where they were the recipient of four Hopwood Awards. They have received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers Conference and the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and collaborate with Etc. Gallery in Chicago.
James Janko’s novel, Buffalo Boy And Geronimo (Curbstone Press), received wide critical acclaim and two awards: The Association of Asian American Studies 2006 Prose Award and the 2007 Northern California Book Award for Fiction. His short stories have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, the Sun, and numerous other magazines. Janko won the 2002 Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction.
Mary Kuryla’s stories have received the Pushcart Prize and have appeared in several literary journals. With a winning story in the July 2015 Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Prize, she also has a story forthcoming in The Normal School. Her award-winning shorts and feature films have premiered at Sundance and Toronto. She has written screen adaptations for United Artists and MGM, and she has been a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the New York Summer Writers Institute.
Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee; a hybrid-genre photo-text memoir that combines poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and photography entitled Intimate; and four books of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos, Six Girls Without Pants, The Invention of the Kaleidoscope, and Animal Eye, which was a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize, the Balcones Prize, and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize. Her work has received the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship, and various state arts council awards. Her newest book of poems, Imaginary Vessels, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in November 2016.