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John Banville & Benjamin Black

“We have this illusion that we are unitary beings. We have the notion that there is a pilot light inside us that is one’s self. I don’t believe this is the case. We’re a collection of poses, of attitudes, of versions of ourselves. We make ourselves up as we go along. This is what makes life interesting.”

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Allan Gurganus

Allan Gurganus is best known as the author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Talls All, his 1984 debut novel that spent eight months on the bestsellers list of The New York Times and has been translated into at least 12 languages. Other books include Plays Well with Others and White People, which w...

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Geraldine Brooks

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is the author of novels including People of the Book and March, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2005. As a journalist for The Wall Street Journal in the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks covered crises in the the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. In thi...

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Barry Unsworth

In this recording from the first session of the 2009 Seminar, Unsworth reads a passage from Land of Marvels, concerning Somerville, the British archeologist whose work on an ancient Assyrian site is threatened by a railroad being constructed by a German company, and Jehar, the financially-...

Mark Doty

Mark Doty

In this recording from the 2008 Seminar, National Book Award-winning poet Mark Doty reads a selection of work inspired by a previous visit to Key West in 1997, including a section from his 2007 memoir Dog Years, and the poems "Sea Grape Valentine," "Watermelon Soda," and "Catalina Macaw."....

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Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander is the author of several collections of poetry, essays, and the novel As a Friend, published by New Directions in 2008. He has translated the works of several Latin American poets including Coral Bracho and Pura Lopez-Colome, and is the editor and co-translator with Kent Johnson of tw...

C.D. Wright

C.D. Wright

C.D. Wright is the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, including Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil (2005). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (twice), the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Bunting Institute, as well as Witter Bynner Prize for Poet...

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Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie is the Edgar Allan Poe Chair of the University of Virginia’s Department of English and Creative Writing. A short story writer and a novelist, she has received critical acclaim for her body of work and has been called “one of our era’s most vital masters of the short for...

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Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson reads two long poems, “The Mute Story of November” and “The Halo Over the Hospital,” from her book Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007). In a brief introduction, Nelson gives credit for the title of her book to Annie Dillard, whose essay “...

Kevin Young

Kevin Young

This 2008 reading features poet Kevin Young reading a selection of then-recent work, including “Aunties,” “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” “Black Cat Blues,” “Hang Dog Blues,” “Flash Flood Blues,” “Ode To The Hotel Near The Children...

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Meghan O'Rourke

Meghan O’Rourke is a poetry editor at The Paris Review, and a culture critic and advisory editor at Slate. This recording from our 2008 Seminar captures O’Rourke’s crisp and elegant reading of several poems from her first collection, Halflife (2007), including “Peep-Show,R...

Junot Díaz

Junot Díaz

Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz reads “Boyfriend,” a short story from his 1997 collection, Drown. I should’ve been careful with the weed. Most people it just fucks up. Me, it makes me sleepwalk. And wouldn’t you know I woke up in the hallway of our building feeling my head ...

Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala reads from his critically acclaimed debut novel Beasts of No Nation, which tells the story of Agu, a child soldier fighting in a civil war in an unnamed west African country. In this section we are introduced to Agu, his friend Strika, Luftenant, and Commandante, as Agu kills for the...

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