Welcome to
Book Passage’s

Conversations with Authors

Live sessions with the writers and thinkers most committed to America’s independent bookstores

Coming Up Next

Saturday, August 8th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Elizabeth McCracken

Yiyun Li‘s new novel Must I Go tells the story of a woman reflecting on her uncompromising life, and the life of a former lover.

She is the author of the novels Where Reasons End, Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl—and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She is also the recipient of many awards, including a PEN/Hemingway Award, a PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and a Windham-Campbell Prize, and was featured in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 fiction issue.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of six books: Here’s Your Hat What’s Your HurryThe Giant’s House, Niagara Falls All Over AgainAn Exact Replica of a Figment of My ImaginationThunderstruck & Other Stories, and the forthcoming Bowlaway.  She’s received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Center, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Thunderstruck & Other Stories won the 2015 Story Prize.

She has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University, the University of Oregon, the University of Houston, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  She holds the James A. Michener Chair in Fiction at the University of Texas, Austin, and boy are her arms tired.

Anne Lamott
Isabel Allende

Welcome to Conversations with Authors!

For more than 40 years, Book Passage has been the welcoming home for readers. And now, we’re pleased to share a remarkable schedule of conversations with many of our favorite authors—many long-time friends of Book Passage—well beyond the Bay Area.

Please join us here each week together with great authors and thinkers to share ideas and celebrate our community. These live, free, intimate conversations explore what it means to be living through these times, and what it means to stay connected to the people and the ideas that bind us.

Register once, and you’re guaranteed a seat at every upcoming Conversations with Authors event. You’ll be invited to help shape each session in advance by prioritizing the issues we discuss, and you’ll have the chance to ask additional questions during each conversation. You can also view the free archive of any event you might have missed, any time you like.

Welcome to Conversations with Authors!

Join us live.

Register once, and join us for every upcoming conversation.

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Wednesday, August 5

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Arjun Moorthy

Jordan Blashek and Christopher Haugh’s just-released Union: A Democrat, a Republican, and a Search for Common Ground, is the story of the two friends’ three-year journey across America. One a Republican and one a Democrat, they traveled together through 44 states and along 20,000 miles of road to find out exactly where the American experiment stands at the close of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Jordan is a military veteran and businessman from Los Angeles. After college, he spent five years in the US Marine Corps as an infantry officer, serving two combat tours overseas, in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He holds degrees from Yale Law School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Princeton University. He is based in New York, where he invests in entrepreneurial efforts to grow the American middle class as part of Schmidt Futures, a new philanthropic venture created by Eric and Wendy Schmidt.

Christopher is a speechwriter and journalist from the Bay Area. He attended UC Berkeley and Oxford University and started speechwriting as an intern in the Obama White House. He went on to join the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff where he served as a speechwriter to the Secretary. In 2018, he graduated from Yale Law School where he was a Yale Journalism Scholar. Chris is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York.

Arjun Moorthy is CEO and co-founder the Factual– a company that finds and delivers the most credible stories on the most important news topics using a transparent, unbiased machine-learning engine.

Saturday, August 8

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Elizabeth McCracken

Yiyun Li‘s new novel Must I Go tells the story of a woman reflecting on her uncompromising life, and the life of a former lover.

She is the author of the novels Where Reasons End, Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl—and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She is also the recipient of many awards, including a PEN/Hemingway Award, a PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and a Windham-Campbell Prize, and was featured in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 fiction issue.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of six books: Here’s Your Hat What’s Your HurryThe Giant’s House, Niagara Falls All Over AgainAn Exact Replica of a Figment of My ImaginationThunderstruck & Other Stories, and the forthcoming Bowlaway.  She’s received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Center, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Thunderstruck & Other Stories won the 2015 Story Prize.

She has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University, the University of Oregon, the University of Houston, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  She holds the James A. Michener Chair in Fiction at the University of Texas, Austin, and boy are her arms tired.

Sunday, August 9

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Ayelet Waldman

Michelle Bowdler’s debut blend of memoir and cultural investigation, Is Rape a Crime?, tells the story of her rape and recovery while interrogating why one of society’s most serious crimes goes largely uninvestigated.

Michelle is a recipient of a 2017 Barbara Deming Memorial Award for non-fiction and has been a Fellow at Ragdale and MacDowell Colony. She has been published in the New York Times and in the anthologies The Anatomy of Silence (Red Press) and We Rise to Resist: Voices from a New Era in Women’s Political Action (McFarland). Her essays: Eventually You Tell Your Kids and Babelogue were both nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

Ayelet Waldman is the author of A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, the novels Love and TreasureRed Hook RoadLove and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, as well as of the essay collection Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace and the Mommy-Track Mystery series. She is the editor of Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons and of  Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation.

Saturday, August 15

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Phil Cousineau

John Shea is the co-writer of the instant New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid in which the legendary Willie Mays shares the inspirations and influences responsible for guiding him on and off the field.

John is the San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer and columnist. He is in his 33rd year covering baseball, including 28 in the Bay Area. He wrote three baseball books, including Rickey Henderson’s biography (“Confessions of a Thief”) and “Magic by the Bay,” an account of the 1989 World Series.

John has also won several Associated Press Sports Editors awards, including first place in the nation for a World Series game story. He’s a two-time Bay Area chairman of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and created the Bill Rigney Good Guy Award, given each year to a Giant and Athletic who is most accommodating to the media.

Phil Cousineau is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, teacher and editor, lecturer, and travel leader, storyteller and TV host. His fascination with the art, literature, and history of culture has taken him from Michigan to Marrakesh, Iceland to the Amazon, in a worldwide search for what the ancients called the “soul of the world.” With more than 35 books and 15 scriptwriting credits to his name, the “omnipresent influence of myth in modern life” is a thread that runs through all of his work. His books include Stoking the Creative FiresOnce and Future MythsThe Art of PilgrimageThe Hero’s JourneyWordcatcherThe Painted WordThe Oldest Story in the WorldThe Book of Roads, and The Accidental Aphorist.

Sunday, August 16

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Susannah Cahalan

Dr. Christine Montross’ important new work, Waiting for an Echo, reveals the psychological toll of incarceration and examines how we disproportionately punish people of color, people who are poor, and people who are mentally ill.

A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, Christine is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She is a practicing inpatient psychiatrist and performs forensic psychiatric examinations. She completed medical school and residency training at Brown University, where she received the Isaac Ray Award in Psychiatry and the Martin B. Keller Outstanding Brown Psychiatry Resident Award.

Her  first book, Body of Work, was named an Editors’ Choice by The New York Times and one of The Washington Post’s best nonfiction books of 2007. Her second book, Falling Into the Fire, was named a New Yorker Book to Watch Out For. She has also written for many national publications including The New York Times, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Washington Post Book World, Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Christine has been named a 2017-2018 Faculty Fellow at the Cogut Center for the Humanities, a 2010 MacColl Johnson Fellow in Poetry, and the winner of the 2009 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Emerging Indiana Authors Award. She has also had several poems published in literary journals, and her manuscript Embouchure was a finalist for the National Poetry Series.

Susannah Cahalan is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness, a memoir about her struggle with a rare autoimmune disease of the brain. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Wednesday, August 19

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Kelly Corrigan

Darin Strauss’ new novel, The Queen of Tuesday: A Lucille Ball Story, mixes fact and fiction, memoir and novel, to explore the conceit  that the author’s grandfather may have had an affair with Hollywood’s Lucille Ball.

Darin is the acclaimed author of the memoir Half a Life, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, an Entertainment Weekly “Must List” selection, a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Pick, and one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle.  He is also the renowned author of the novels Chang and EngThe Real McCoy, and the international bestseller More Than It Hurts You. He is a compelling speaker whose experience includes universities, libraries, book festivals, and corporations.

The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction writing, Darrin is a clinical associate professor at NYU’s creative writing program.

Kelly Corrigan‘s Tell Me MoreStories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say is a wonderfully personal, honest, and hilarious examination of the essential phrases that make love and connection possible.

Kelly has been called “the voice of her generation” by O: The Oprah Magazine and “the poet laureate of the ordinary” by HuffPost. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Middle PlaceLift, and Glitter and Glue. She is also the creative director of The Nantucket Project and host of their conversation series about what matters most. She lives near Oakland, California, with her husband, Edward Lichty, and her daughters, Georgia and Claire.

Wednesday, August 26

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Zoe Samudzi

Akwaeke Emezi’s new The Death of Vivek Oji is a propulsively readable, novel teeming with unforgettable characters—a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations, and a dramatic story of loss and transcendence sure to will move every reader.

Akwaeke is a writer and visual artist based in liminal spaces. A 2018 National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35’ honoree Akwaeke was born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria.

Akwaeke’s debut YA novel PET  was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and a Lambda Literary Award, as well as an Indie Next selection. Praised in The New York Times, it received a Stonewall Honor, a Walter Honor, and an Otherwise Award Honor after debuting with five starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Bookpage, and Bulletin. PET was also named a 2019 Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Apple, and Amazon, among others. Upon its publication, Akwaeke was featured in Kirkus Review and profiled in The New York Times.

Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for the video art in The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. Akwaeke’s writing has been published by T Magazine, Dazed Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Akwaeke’s memoir work was included in The Fader’s ‘Best Culture Writing of 2015’ (‘Who Will Claim You?’). Akwaeke’s film UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival.

Zoé Samudzi is a Zimbabwean-American writer and activist known for her book As Black as Resistance. Samudzi has written for The New InquiryThe Daily Beast and Vice magazine.

Saturday, August 29th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Barbara Wright

Ursula Hegi‘s latest novel, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls about three mothers, and set on the shores of the Nordsee – is testament to the ways in which women hold each other up in the most unexpected of circumstances.

Ursula was born in Germany in 1946 and immigrated to the United States as a teenager. She is the author of 12 books. Several of her novels, including Stones from the River and Floating in My Mother’s Palm, explore German and German-American identity in the 20th century. Set in Burgdorf, a fictional village in Germany, they are part of the Burgdorf Cycle, which also includes the novel, Children and Fire published in 2011.

Ursula’s work has been translated into many languages, and her awards include the Italian Grinzane Cavour, an NEA Fellowship, and a PEN/Faulkner Award. She has served as a juror for the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle.

Ursula lives with her husband in in New York State. She teaches in the MFA program in Writing and Literature at Stony Brook, Southampton.

Barbara Wright is the author of three novels: Crow, Easy Money, and Plain Language, which won a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. She grew up in North Carolina, has traveled all over the world, and lived in France, Korea, and El Salvador.  She worked as a fact-checker for Esquire and as a screenwriter.  Barbara lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Frank Gay.

Sunday, August 30th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Meena Harris

Pramila Jayapal’s Use the Power You Have offers a wealth of ideas and inspiration for a new generation of engaged citizens interested in fighting back and making change, whether in Washington or in their own communities.

Pramila is the Congresswoman who represents Washington’s 7th District, which encompasses most of Seattle and surrounding areas. The first Indian American woman in the House of Representatives, Pramila has spent nearly thirty years working internationally and domestically as an advocate for women’s, immigrant, civil, and human rights. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Meena Harris was born into a family of strong women whose legacy continues to inspire her. Her grandmother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a cancer researcher and civil rights activist; her mother, Maya Harris, is a lawyer and policy expert; and her aunt, Kamala Harris, is a United States senator from California. Meena herself is a lawyer and entrepreneur. In 2017 she founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to social causes. She currently resides in San Francisco with her partner and two daughters.

Meena’s Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, an empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer, and policy expert Maya Harris.

Wednesday, September 16th

7:00est/4:00pst

Sue Miller’s latest release, Monogomy, is an engrossing and haunting novel about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow.

Sue is recognized internationally for her elegant and sharply realistic accounts of the contemporary family. Her books have been widely translated and published in 22 countries around the world.

The Good Mother (1986), the first of her ten novels, was an immediate bestseller (more than six months at the top of the New York Times charts). Subsequent novels include three Book-of-the-Month main selections:  Family Pictures (a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), While I Was Gone (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), and The Senator’s Wife. Her non-fiction book, The Story of My Father, was heralded by BookPage as a “beautiful, spare memoir about her relationship with her father during his illness and death from Alzheimer’s disease.”  Her numerous honors include a Guggenheim and a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship.

Sue is a committed advocate for the writer’s engagement with society at large, having held a position on the Board of PEN-American Center. For four years she was Chair of PEN New England, an active branch that worked with writing programs in local high schools and ran classes in prisons.  She has taught fiction at, among others, Amherst, Tufts, Boston University, Smith, and MIT.

Saturday, September 19th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Adam Johnson

Ayad Akhtar new novel Homeland Elegies is the profound and provocative story an immigrant father and his son search for belonging — in post-Trump America, and with each other.

Ayad is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Ayad is the author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages and named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations). As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within.

Adam Johnson is the author of Fortune Smiles, winner of the National Book Award and the Story Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Orphan Master’s Son, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the California Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Adam’s other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship; he was also a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. His previous books are Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us. Adam teaches creative writing at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco with his wife and children.

Sunday, September 27th

7:00est/4:00pst

in conversation with Peggy Orenstein

Michael Ian Black‘s A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son, is both poignant look at boyhood in the form of a heartfelt letter from the comedian to his teenage son before he leaves for college, and a radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching young men to give and receive love.

Michael is an actor, comedian, and writer who started his career with the sketch comedy show The State, on MTV, and has created and starred in many other television shows. Movie appearances include Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, and Sextuplets.

Michael is the author of several books for children, including the award-winning I’m Bored, I’m Sad, and I’m Worried, and the parody A Child’s First Book of Trump. His books for adults include the memoirs You’re Not Doing It Right and Navel Gazing, and the essay collection My Custom Van. Michael also co-authored with Meghan McCain America, You Sexy Bitch.

As a stand-up comedian, Michael regularly tours the country, and he has released several comedy albums. His podcasts include Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Tom Cavanagh; Topics, with Michael Showalter; How to Be Amazing; and Obscure. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Peggy Orenstein is the author of the New York Times best-sellers Boys & Sex, Girls & SexCinderella Ate My Daughter and Waiting for Daisy as well as Don’t Call Me Princess, Flux, and the classic SchoolGirls.

A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and AFAR, Peggy has also written for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, New York, The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and has contributed commentaries to NPR’s All Things Considered . She has been featured on, among other programs, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Today Show, Morning Joe, NPR’s Fresh Air and The PBS News Hour. Her TED Talk, “What Young Women Believe About Their Own Sexual Pleasure,” has been viewed over five million times.