With the publication of her debut book, The Undocumented Americans, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio became the first undocumented finalist for a National Book Award. Her book was also named by Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of 2020 and was long listed for the Porchlight Business Book Award. The Undocumented Americans was selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time, NPR, The New York Public Library, Book Riot and the Library Journal. It was also named one of the ten best books of the year by Vulture.
Karla has written about immigration, music, beauty, and mental illness for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Glamour, Elle, Vogue, n+1, and The New Inquiry, among others. She lives in New Haven with her partner and their dog. She is a graduate of Harvard University and a doctoral candidate in the American Studies program at Yale. She was an Emerson Collective fellow.
Imbolo Mbue is the author of the New York Times bestseller Behold the Dreamers, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Prize and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Named a notable book of the year by The New York Times and The Washington Post and a best book of the year by close to a dozen publications, the novel has been translated into eleven languages, adapted into an opera and a stage play, and optioned for a movie. A native of Limbe, Cameroon, and a graduate of Rutgers and Columbia Universities, Mbue lives in New York City.
Shelley Pearsall is the author of seven acclaimed books for middle grade and teen readers. Her inspiring and thought-provoking novels are used in classrooms nationwide, and she is a popular school speaker.
Prior to becoming a full-time author, Shelley was a classroom teacher. She has also worked in the education departments of several parks and history museums where she created museum theater events and led public programs. She has a B.A. from The College of Wooster and a Master’s in Education, M. Ed., from John Carroll University.
Diane Rehm hosted The Diane Rehm Show, distributed by NPR, from 1979 to 2016, when it had a weekly listening audience of 2.5 million. She now hosts a weekly podcast for NPR, On My Mind. She began her radio career in 1973 as a volunteer for WAMU 88.5, the NPR member station in Washington, D.C. She was hired as an assistant producer and later became the host and producer of two health-oriented programs. In 2014, President Barack Obama presented Rehm with the National Humanities Medal. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Martha Teichner has been a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning” since December 1993, where she’s equally adept at covering major breaking national and international news stories as she is handling in-depth cultural and arts topics.
Since joining CBS News in 1977, Teichner has earned multiple national awards for her original reporting, including 11 Emmy Awards and five James Beard Foundation Awards. Teichner was also part of the team coverage of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting which earned CBS News a 2014 duPont-Columbia Award.
Teichner was born in Traverse City and graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She attended the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business Administration. She lives in New York City.
Alan Lightman is an award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer, an essayist, physicist, and educator. Currently, he is Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
As both a distinguished physicist and an accomplished novelist, Lightman is one of only a small number of people who straddle the sciences and the humanities. He was the first professor at MIT to receive a joint appointment in the sciences and the humanities. He has lectured at more than 100 universities nationwide about the similarities and differences in the ways that scientists and artists view the world.
Lightman’s novel Einstein’s Dreams was an international bestseller and has been translated into thirty languages. It was runner-up for the 1994 PEN New England/Boston Globe Winship Award. The novel is one of the most widely used texts in universities in the U.S. More than fifty independent theatrical and musical productions around the world have been based on Einstein’s Dream.
Lightman’s novel The Diagnosis was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award in fiction. His novel Reunion was a selection of Books Sense 76, a Boston Globe/New England bestseller, a Washington Post bestseller, a Barnes and Nobel national college bestseller, and a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. Lightman’s collection of essays, A Sense of the Mysterious, was a finalist for the 2005 Massachusetts Book Award. The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th Century Science, was named by Discover Magazine as one of the ten best books on science in 2005. The Accidental Universe (2014) was named by Brainpickings as one of the ten best books of the year. The partially fictionalized memoir Screening Room (2015) was named by the Washington Post as one of the best books of the year.
Three Flames, his most recent book, was praised by Annie Proulx as his “best book since Einstein’s Dreams . . . a piercing story of social dissolution in damaged Cambodia.”
For many years, Garner was an editor for the New York Times Book Review. His essays and criticism have also appeared in The New Republic, Harper’s, Slate and elsewhere. He is a founding editor of Salon.
While still a student at Middlebury College, Garner wrote book criticism for The Village Voice, music and theater criticism and was a stringer for the New York Times. He also is the author of Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements. He began keeping his commonplace book while still in high school. “Into it I’ve poured verbal delicacies, ‘the blast of a trumpet,’ as [Ralph Waldo] Emerson put it, and bits of scavenged wisdom from my life as a reader. Yea, for I am an underliner, a destroyer of books, and maybe you are, too.’