Amanda Uhle is the executive director and publisher of McSweeney’s, known for its daily humor website, award-winning quarterly literary journal, and intrepid list of books. Uhle is the occasional host of the Living Writers podcast. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Electric Literature, LitHub, Think Progress, and elsewhere. She is an enthusiastic supporter of youth writing programs in the 826 Valencia family and beyond.
David Kipen is an author, critic, broadcaster, arts administrator and founder of Libros Schmibros, a non-profit lending library in Boyle Heights, California. He is the former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared widely, and he is most recently author of the collection, Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018. His advocacy on behalf of a Federal Writers’ Project has led to its introduction as proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Tom Barbash is the author of four books as well as reviews, essays, and articles for publications such as McSweeney’s, Tin House, the Believer, Narrative Magazine, ZYZZYVA, and the New York Times. His short story collection Stay Up With Me was nominated for the Folio Prize and picked as a Best Book of the Year by the Independent of London, NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury News. His novel The Last Good Chance was awarded The California Book Award and was a Publishers Weekly and Anniston Star Best Book of the Year. His nonfiction book On Top of the World, about the fate of the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald on 9/11, was a New York Times Bestseller. A well-regarded speaker, panelist, and interviewer, Barbash teaches the novel, short fiction, and nonfiction at California College of the Arts. His most recent book, the novel The Dakota Winters, was a National Bestseller, and named as an Editors Choice by The New York Times Book Review, Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone and People.
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David Haynes is an emeritus professor of English at Southern Methodist University and 25-year member of faculty at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He has written seven novels for adults and five books for younger readers. His most recent is A Star in the Face of the Sky. He is the Board Chair for Kimbilio.
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Jared Jackson is the literary programs manager at PEN America. He received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, where he was awarded a Chair’s Fellowship and Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship. His work has received support from the Tin House Winter Workshop and has appeared in The Yale Review and Guernica, among others. Jackson was a finalist for the 2021/22 George Bennett Fellowship, the 2021 Baltic Writing Residency in London, and the 2019 Iowa Review Award in fiction.
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Michelle Latiolais is a Professor of English at the University of California at Irvine. She is the author of the novel Even Now, which received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. Her second novel, A Proper Knowledge, was published in 2008 by Bellevue Literary Press. She has published writing in three anthologies, Absolute Disaster; Women On The Edge: Writing From Los Angeles; and Woof! Writers on Dogs. Her stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, Santa Monica Review, Iowa Review, Juked, The Kenyon Review, and Northwest Review. Widow, a collection of stories, involutions and essays, was published in 2011 by Bellevue Literary Press. Her most recent book, She, was published in 2016 by W.W. Norton & Company.
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Krys Lee is the author of Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean, and the translator of I Hear Your Voice and Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories by Young-ha Kim. She is the recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the BBC International Story Prize. Her fiction, journalism, and literary translations have appeared in Granta, the New York Times Book Review, Corriere della Sera, and The Guardian, among others. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea. www.kryslee.com
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Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. Her most recent play and film, Notes from the Field, looks at the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named the stage version of Notes from the Field, among The Best Theater of 2016 and TIME magazine named it one of the Top 10 Plays of the year. HBO premiered the film version in February 2018.
Looking at current events from multiple points of view, Smith’s theater combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. Plays include Fires In the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles, House Arrest, and Let Me Down Easy. Twilight: Los Angeles was nominated for two Tony Awards. Fires in the Mirror was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.
Smith co-stars on the new ABC / Shonda Rhimes series, “For the People.” She also appears on the hit ABC series “Black-ish.” She previously starred as Gloria Akalitus on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” and the National Security Advisor on NBC’s “The West Wing. “Films include The American President, Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, Dave, Rent, and The Human Stain.
In 2012, President Obama awarded her the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts. In 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She was the 2017 recipient of the Ridenhour Courage Prize. She was the 2017 recipient of the George Polk Career Award in Journalism.
Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University, where she is also University Professor at Tisch School of the Arts.
Born in the U.S. to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and Valley of Amazement, all New York Times bestsellers. She is the author of two memoirs, The Opposite of Fate and Where the Past Begins; two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat; and numerous articles for magazines. Ms. Tan served as co-producer and co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club and was creative consultant for Sagwa, the Emmy-nominated PBS television series for children. She wrote the libretto for the opera based on her novel The Bonesetter’s Daughter. With music composed by Stewart Wallace, the opera had its world premiere in 2008 at the San Francisco Opera. Tan is the subject of the American Masters documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir which premiered at Sundance in 2021. In addition, she is an instructor of a MasterClass on Fiction, Memory, and Imagination.
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Lisa Teasley is the author of the novels Dive and Heat Signature, and the award-winning story collection, Glow in the Dark, published by Bloomsbury. Teasley is the writer and presenter of the BBC television documentary “High School Prom”; her essays, stories and poems have been much anthologized, appearing in publications and media such as National Public Radio, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Joyland, 7X7 LA and ZYZZYVA. An Editor-at-Large for Los Angeles Review of Books and a member of the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, Lisa is also a visual artist who has exhibited widely.
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David L. Ulin is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, which was shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California, where he edits the literary journal Air/Light. Most recently, he has edited Didion: The 1980s and 90s, for the Library of America.