“… an important story of global women’s rights.”

Annie Proulx

Alan Lightman • Thu, Jan 21, 2021

Alan Lightman

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.”


Guest Host | Kalyanee Mam

Uprooted by war from her homeland in Cambodia, Mam’s longing to ដោះស្រាយ daohsray or unravel what home means, has led her to work on films about war and refugees, about families threatened and displaced by the destruction of their land, forests and rivers, their cultures and traditions and the myths and stories that honor and protect their home. She is grateful to the families for teaching her that home is where we rest our bodies, give birth to our children, and share in the bounty of the earth with other dwellers of this home. She is grateful to her mother and her family for teaching her that home lies in the jewels and wisdom of our ancestors. And she is grateful to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, Kalliopeia Foundation, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, Women Make Movies, Chicken & Egg Pictures, the Tide Foundation, Skywalker Ranch, the Jeffrey Walker Family Foundation, and Ken Pelletier for supporting this work. She now makes her home on the land of the Pomo and Coastal Miwok with her beloved David Mendez.

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