Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by booksellers in 2011, and the NEA added it to its Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
Writer and psychologist Lesley Hazleton, aka The Accidental Theologist, explores the vast and volatile arena in which religion and politics intersect. And does so as a resolute agnostic -- thus her latest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto.
Born and educated in the UK, Hazleton reported from Jerusalem for 13 years, contributing to The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, The Nation, and others. She moved to Seattle in 1992 to get her pilot's license, found the perfect houseboat ("basically, a shack on a raft"), and stayed. Now working on a new book -- her thirteenth -- she also blogs at www.accidentaltheologist.com, casting "an agnostic eye on religion, politics, and existence."
A repeat TED speaker, her talks have been viewed over three million times. Among her most quoted sentences: "Life is paradox; the danger is one-dimensional thinking."
Hossein Mortezaeian Abkenaris
Hossein Mortezaeian Abkenaris an Iranian fiction writer and screenwriter. His 2006 novel, A Scorpion on the Steps of Andimeshk Railroad Station, received numerous awards and has been translated into multiple languages. Abkenar’s short story collection,The French Perfume, won the Yalda Literature Award for the year’s best short story collection in 2003. His screenplay No One Knows About
Persian Cats earned a prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. His books are banned in Iran, where they have been stripped from bookstores and libraries.
Abkenar was a 2013-14 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and is now a City of Asylum Fellow at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. During these fellowship years, he has been working on his novel, Darkness. It covers three decades in Iran’s history and takes a fresh look at Iranian society—particularly women’s issues, revolution, the war, political and social crises, sexual discrimination, and sexual violence.
Ben Ehrenreich’s most recent book, The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, based on several years of reporting from the West Bank, was selected as one of the best books of 2016 by The Guardian, The Economist, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also the author of two novels, Ether and The Suitors. His journalism has been published in the London Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and Los Angeles, among many other publications, and was honored, in 2011, with a National Magazine Award.