The Picador Professorship for Literature is a public-private partnership that has been bringing both established and up-and-coming US American authors to Leipzig for over 15 years. Having welcomed over 30 authors, the Picador Professorship is deeply committed to supporting and celebrating the diversity of US American literature and its many voices. Offering both classes and public readings, the Picador Professorship enables students and the wider community to participate in a humanities and arts education fitting for a globalized world.
Previous Picador Professors
Located at American Studies Leipzig and based on a partnership between Holtzbrinck Berlin - Inspire Together, the DAAD, and the Leipzig University, the Picador Guest Professorship for Literature combines elements of a writers-in-residence program, creative writing programs, and university learning. It thus also engages in and fosters a vivid exchange about the relationship between literature, language, and culture, especially as they shape society's negotiation of diversity and difference.
The Picador Guest Professors teach creative-writing and literature classes at American Studies Leipzig and hold readings and similar events for the wider public. For more detailed information on the activities of the professorship, please see our News and Events page.
Current Picador Professor: Salvador Plascencia
Meet the Picador Professor
American Studies Leipzig is very much interested in organizing Picador Professorship Events (readings, round tables, panel discussions, etc.) with local, regional, and national partners. If you are interested in inviting the current Picador professor for such events, please contact the American Studies Leipzig Picador Coordinator Annika Schadewaldt (email: annika.schadewaldt(at)uni-leipzig.de, phone: +49 (341) 97 37 334) directly.
Former Picador Professors
Since the inauguration of the Picador Professorship in early 2007, American Studies Leipzig has been proud and honored to host the following Picador Guest Professors for Literature:
Tristan Hughes has studied literature at the universities of York and Edinburgh, and King's College, Cambridge, where he completed a PhD on Herman Melville's South Sea writings. Tristan Hughes is seen as one of the truly promising writers of his generation. His first two novels, The Tower (2003) and Send My Cold Bones Home (2006), have won him wide literary acclaim. Tristan Hughes has also won The Rhys Davies Short Story Award. His latest works, Hummingbird (2017) and Shattercone (2020), have also been very well received, with the first one winning him the Edward Stanford Award for Fiction With a Sense of Place.
James Hopkin has studied Modern Fiction at the University of East Anglia and wrote his PhD-thesis on Mikhail Bakhtin and Patrick White at the University of York and the University of East Anglia. He has lived in Krakow, Berlin, Manchester and several other places across Europe. His first novel Winter Under Water (2007) has won wide praise among literary critics, with The Independent highlighting that “few first-time novelists [...] have an ability to conjure language to such magical effects.” His short story Even the Crows Say Kraków (2011) won the inaugural Norwich Prize for Literature and many of his short stories have been widely published, anthologized and are frequently broadcast on BBC Radio. James Hopkin has held a few writer-in-residence posts, his last one being in Prague, Unesco City of Literature, during January and February 2017.
John Haskell is the author of I Am Not Jackson Pollock (2003) and American Purgatorio (2005). Before, he has worked as an actor and performance artist - for example, with David Mamet at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. John Haskell has studied playwriting at UCLA, and is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Columbia University. Haskell's work has appeared in Granta, The Paris Review and Conjunctions, and his first short-story collection I Am Not Jackson Pollock has received wide literary praise. With his mesmerizing debut novel American Purgatorio Haskell surprised literary critics and readers alike by crossing conventional genre definitions and creating a work of fiction that comes across as literary road movie, detective novel, psycho thriller, and metaphysical quest at the same time. His second novel, Out of My Skin: A Novel (2009), also brought him a lot of praise. His latest novel, The Complete Ballet (2017), brings literature and art together in a dramatic retelling of five romantic ballets interwoven with a contemporary story.
Klosterman is the author of more than ten books, including the best-sellers Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto (2003) and But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past (2016). His work has received wide and enthusiastic praise, with Stephen King lauding Klosterman’s debut Fargo Rock City: “Writing about pop culture doesn't get any better than this, or any funnier.” Kosterman is also known for his 2004 ESPN blog and numerous articles on sports, music, and popular culture. Klosterman served as the Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine for three years and was an original founder of the website Grantland with Bill Simmons. His latest novel is The Nineties (2022).
Nancy Kress is the author of numerous science fiction and fantasy novels, several short story collections and three books about writing. She has won the Nebula Award five times, as well as the Hugo Award (twice), the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Her work has been translated into 15 languages and so far more 40 books have been published. CNN lauded her style as "devilishly inventive," and added that "her characters are more than cardboard cut-outs, and they wrestle with important issues - medical and ethical - every step of the way." Tom Easton remarked that "Kress ratchets the tension up and up in a grand display of writerly talent. If you like suspense, you're gonna love this one!" Her latest novel, If Tomorrow Comes (2018), is a sequel and the last book of her award-winning trilogy Yesterday’s Kin (2014).
Catherine Chung received her MFA from Cornell University, where she has also taught creative writing and essay writing classes. She was a MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, and has received fellowships from Hedgebrook and Jentel, and a waiter-scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has received grants from the Lannan Foundation at SFAI, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Chung’s work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Quarterly West, Guernica Magazine, and The Journal. Her first novel, Forgotten Country, was published by Riverhead Books in March 2012, with which she won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Catherine is a Granta New Voice, and a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Adelphi University, and currently lives in New York City. Her latest novel was released in 2019. In The Tenth Muse (2019), Catherine Chung “boldly illustrates that truth and beauty can reside even amid the messiest solutions” (Publishers Weekly).
Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia, and has since lived in Austin, San Francisco, Boston, Brooklyn, Romania, Italy, and Hungary. He received his BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin and his MFA from Emerson College in Boston. In 1999, he won a yearlong Fulbright research fellowship to work on a novel in Romania. Since 2002, he has been a full-time novelist. He lives in Budapest with his wife and daughter. His first five novels formed a sequence chronicling the life of a fictional Eastern European country from 1948 until 1989, following the arc of the Cold War. They were shortlisted for a variety of awards and received significant critical acclaim in the US and the UK. 2009’s The Tourist, the first of a four-book series of espionage thrillers, was optioned for film by Warner Bros., with George Clooney slated to star. It was the first of his novels to reach the New York Times bestseller list and has been published in 20 languages, including German. In addition to the novels that make up his bestselling series, Olen Steinhauer has also published three standalone novels. The movie adaptation of All the Old Knives (2015) was released in April 2022, starring Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton. Olen Steinhauer also created the TV series Berlin Station, an espionage drama that ran for three seasons, from 2016 to 2018.
Christian Hawkey grew up on Pine Island, Florida. He has received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he has also founded the poetry journal jubilat. Hawkey has taught English and Creative Writing at Amherst and at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He has been awarded the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and prizes from the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Fund. He is the author books and volumes of poetry, including the 2006 Book of Funnels, the 2007 Citizen Of and the 2010 Ventrakl. His work has also appeared in numerous other venues such as the Tin House, the Chicago Review, the Best American Poetry, Conduit, and PEN America. It has been translated into four different languages, translations by German poets Uljana Wolf and Steffen Popp have appeared in Die Zeit and Sprachgebunden. His latest book is a collaboration with Poet Uljana Wolf and is titled Sonne from Ort (2012).
Nathalie Handal is an award-winning poet, playwright, and writer. She has lived in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Arab world. She held the Picador Professorship in winter semester 2010/11. In an interview with thebartleby.com, the poet recalls this time:
"I was a Picador Guest Professor in Literature in Leipzig (2010/2011). The position was very fulfilling and my creative writing students were dynamic, imaginative, and full of heart. Leipzig is wondrous."
Handal‘s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, such as Poetrywales, Ploughshares, Poetry New Zealand, Stand Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Perihelion, and The Literary Review; and has been translated into more than fifteen languages. Her poetry collections include The Republics, La estrella invisible / The Invisible Star, Poet in Andalucía, Love and Strange Horses and the recently published Life in a Country Album. She has promoted international literature through translation, research, and the editing of The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, an Academy of American Poets bestseller and Winner of the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Literary, and the co-editing along with Tina Chang and Ravi Shankar of the anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond.
Nathalie Handal is a professor at Columbia University, and a Visiting Writer at the American University of Rome. She writes the literary travel column The City and the Writer for Words without Borders, and the column “Journeys” for Publishers Weekly Arabic.
Shannon Cain is a multiple award-winning fiction author. She is from downtown Tucson, Arizona. After her MFA in 2005 from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she published with Lisa Bowden Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq (Kore Press, 2008). Her stories have been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the O. Henry Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her short stories have appeared e.g. in The Colorado Review and American Short Fiction. Her debut short story collection, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, was published in 2011. It was awarded with the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Shannon Cain has taught fiction writing at the University of Arizona, Gotham Writers’ Workshop, UCLA Extension, Arizona State University and as a private coach and workshop facilitator. In 2014, Cain was awarded a three-year Skills and Talents Visa in the arts from the government of France and moved to Paris. In the same year, Cain edited and published the short story anthology Roadside Curiosities: Stories About American Pop Culture. The book was born in a classroom at American Studies Leipzig during her stay as Picador Guest Professor and published by Leipzig University Press. In 2015, Cain’s work was published in two anthologies: The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers and Winesburg, Indiana. She is also the founder of La Maison Baldwin, a residency program in the south of France supporting Black writers.
Porochista Khakpour was born in Teheran and raised in the area of Greater Los Angeles. During her studies she received grants from the Johns Hopkins University in Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her creative work was and still will be published e.g. in the New York Times, The Paris Review Daily and the Los Angeles Times. She released her first novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects in 2007. In 2014 she published her second novel The Last Illusion and was named by Dazed one of the “Top 10 American Writers You Need to Read This Year.” Her first memoir SICK was published in 2018, and in 2020 she published her first collection of essays Brown Album. Next to her daily writing work she teaches Creative Writing and Literature at different universities.
Fiona Maazel was born in Cleveland and received her Bachelor of Arts degree at William College in 1997. In 2002 she finished her Master of Fine Arts at Bennington College. Fiona Maazel was executive editor at Magazine Paris Review. Some of her work was published in magazines such as the New York Book Review, Bomb, Book Forum, N+1 and the The Yale Review. She is a 2008 National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree, winner of the Bard Fiction Prize for 2009, and in 2005 she was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Her second novel Woke up Lonely was published in spring 2013, and her latest work is A Little More Human (2017). She currently lives and works in New York.
Alexander Chee was born in Rhode Island and raised in South Korea, Guam, and Maine. He is a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in Fiction and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony , the VCCA, Ledig House, the Hermitage and Civitella Ranieri. His first novel, Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), is a winner of the Michener Copernicus Prize, the AAWW Lit Award and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year and a Booksense 76 selection. In 2003, Out Magazine honored him as one of their 100 Most Influential People of the Year. His essays and stories have appeared in Granta.com, Out, The Man I Might Become, Loss Within Loss, Men On Men 2000, His 3 and Boys Like Us. He has taught fiction and nonfiction writing at the New School University, Wesleyan, Amherst College and Iowa. His second novel The Queen of the Night was another best-seller and his latest work, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (2018), was named a Best Book of 2018 by New York Magazine, The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, and Time Magazine, among others. He is a 2021 United States Artists Fellow and 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction. He currently lives in New York City and blogs at Koreanish.
Calvin Baker was born in Chicago and studied English at Amherst College. His first novel, Naming the New World (1998), which was also translated into German, was elected Notable First Novel by Time Magazine in 1998. Baker’s third novel Dominion (2006) was a New York Magazine Critic’s Pick for Best Books of the Decade. In 2017 Baker teamed with Peck and publisher John Oakes to relaunch the Evergreen Review, the literary journal founded by Barney Rosset. In 2020 Baker published his first nonfiction book A More Perfect Reunion: Race, Integration, and the Future of America. Among others, Baker has taught at Columbia University.
Jennine Capó Crucet is the author of How to Leave Hialeah (2009), Make Your Home Among Strangers (2015), and My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education (2019). Her first work won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize, the John Gardner Book Award, the Devil's Kitchen Reading Award, and was named a Best Book of the Year by the Miami Herald, the Miami New Times, and the Latinidad List. The title story from the collection won a PEN/O. Henry Prize and appears in the 2011 PEN/O. Henry Prize Anthology. Her second book won the International Latino Book Award for Best Latino-themed Fiction. Originally from Miami, she is currently an associate professor at the University of Nebraska in the Department of English and the Institute for Ethnic Studies. Her stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Epoch, the Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, and other magazines.
Guillermo Verdecchia is a Canadian theater artist. He was born in Buenos Aires and came to Canada at the age of two. He was raised in Kitchener, Ontario. Verdecchia received an undergraduate degree in theater at Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto, and a Master's Degree in English and Theater Studies from the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario. Verdecchia received the 1993 Governor-General's Award for Drama for his play Fronteras Americanas. He is a four-time winner of the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, and a recipient of various other awards for acting as well as sundry film festival awards for Crucero/Crossroads, the short film, made with Ramiro Puerta, based on Fronteras Americanas. He has also published Citizen Suarez (1998), a collection of short stories. He is a Resident Artist with Toronto's Soulpepper Theater, where he teaches playwriting. His latest projects include Flashing Lights (2017) and The Parliament of the Birds (2021).
Before becoming a full-time writer, Lowenthal worked as an editor for University Press of New England, where he founded the Hardscrabble Books imprint, publishing such authors as Chris Bohjalian, W.D. Wetherell, and Ernest Hebert. He studied English and comparative religion at Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1990 as class valedictorian.
His short stories have appeared in Tin House, the Southern Review, the Kenyon Review, and on Esquire.com, and have been widely anthologized in volumes such as Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge (HarperCollins), Bestial Noise: The Tin House Fiction Reader (Bloomsbury), and Best New American Voices 2005 (Harcourt). He has also written nonfiction for the New York Times Magazine, Boston Magazine, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Out, and many other publications. He has published four novels, one of which, Charity Girl, was a New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice" and a Washington Post "Top Fiction of 2007" pick. His first short story collection, Sex With Strangers, was published in March 2021.
The recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Wesleyan writers' conferences, the MacDowell Colony, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and the Instituto Sacatar, Lowenthal has also been awarded Lynchburg College's Thornton Residency and the James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize. He has taught creative writing at Boston College and Hampshire College, and since 2003 has been a core faculty member in the low-residency MFA program at Lesley University.
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Lauren K. Alleyne holds an M.F.A. in Poetry and a graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University. Alleyne is currently a Poet-in-Residence and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dubuque, Dubuque, IA. Alleyne’s fiction, poetry, and non-fiction has been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Black Arts Quarterly, Women’s Studies Quarterly, The Caribbean Writer, The Crab Orchard Review, Belleview Literary Review, The Banyan Review, Let Spirit Speak, Guernica, Growing Up Girl and Gathering Ground, among others. A Cave Canem graduate, her work has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 2010 Small Axe Literary Prize, a 2012 Lyrical Iowa Award, an International Publication Prize from The Atlanta Review, and honorable mention in the 2009 Reginald Shepherd Memorial Poetry Prize. Alleyne has also co-edited several literary collections, such as From the Heart of Brooklyn, and the scholarly collection Before the Hospital: Qatar and the Tradition of Healing.
Her first collection of poetry, Difficult Fruit, was published in 2014 to great critical acclaim, and her second collection, Honeyfish, was released in 2018. Her latest work features in the collection Furious Flower (2019), an anthology of poems by more than a hundred award-winning African American poets and in the Lyricfest’s ArtSong Festival (2021).
Linh Dinh is a poet, author, translator, critic, and photographer who was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and came to the United States at the age of 11, eventually settling in Philadelphia. He studied painting at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of numerous collections of poems (among them American Tatts, Borderless Bodies, and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy), two collections of short stories (Fake House and Blood and Soap), and one novel (Love Like Hate).
Dinh is the recipient of the Asian American Literary Award as well as of a David T. Wong Fellowship, a Lannan Residency, and a Pew Foundation grant, among others. His work has appeared in a variety of anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, and 2007, Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, and Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation, and his poems and short stories have been translated into numerous languages, among them Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. In addition to his work as an author and a poet, he has translated poems to and from English and Vietnamese and has edited poetry anthologies featuring Vietnamese authors.
His latest project, Postcards from the End of America, started as a photo blog to collect personal impressions and stories from strangers, many of them homeless people, Dinh met while traveling the US. It was published as a book with Seven Stories Press, in which Dinh sets out to document what he sees as “the accelerating collapse of America.”
Justin Torres' debut novel, We the Animals, was published in 2011 and quickly became a national hit, making it onto the bestseller lists of, among others, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. The novel garnered universal praise from critics, appeared on various best books of 2011 lists, and won prizes such as the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Fred R. Brown Literary Award. It has been translated into fifteen languages and was adapted into a film that won the Sundance NEXT Innovator Award and was nominated for five 2019 Independent Spirit Awards.
In addition to his first novel, Justin Torres has written a number of pieces of short fiction and essays, which appeared in venues like the New Yorker, Harper's, and the Guardian. He holds a BA in Latin American History and an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. In the past, he has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and a creative writing fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at universities around the country and is currently Assistant Professor of English at UCLA.
Paul La Farge is the author of four books and numerous short stories and essays. He has written two novels, The Artist of the Missing (1999) and Haussmann, or the Distinction (2001), as well as The Facts of Winter (2005), which he describes as a “book of imaginary dreams,” and Luminous Airplanes (2011), published as both a book and an immersive hypertext. La Farge’s diverse work has received widespread critical acclaim and earned him a number of prizes and distinctions, among them a New York Times Editor's Pick, the Bay Area Book Reviewers' Association Award for Fiction, and the California Book Awards' Silver Medal for Fiction.
He is the recipient of the Bard Fiction Prize and of fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, among many others. His work has appeared in venues such as The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Village Voice. In addition to his writing activities, La Farge teaches at Columbia University and Bard College. His latest novel, The Night Ocean, was published in 2017.
Tom Drury is the author of five novels and numerous short stories and essays. A native of Iowa, he confronts his readers with the intricacies of life in American small towns and the Midwest in many of his stories' literary worlds. Drury achieved early recognition with his novel The End of Vandalism (1994), which was picked as an ALA Notable Book in 1995 and has been described as a “masterpiece” and a “slow march to greatness” by The Independent. His other novels include The Black Brook (1998), Hunts in Dreams (2000), The Driftless Area (2006), and Pacific (2013), which have been translated, among others, into Spanish, French, and German. Drury's short stories have been published in the New Yorker, Harper's, Ploughshares, and other venues. Additionally, he also recently cowrote a screenplay for the film adaptation of The Driftless Area (2015).
Drury has been praised as a “major figure in American literature” (The New York Times) and “an overlooked giant of American comic fiction” (The Guardian), and he has been mentioned alongside an “extraordinary generation of American novelists” including Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers, and David Foster Wallace (The Independent). Among many other awards, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and he was featured on the National Book Awards Longlist. Drury holds a BA in Journalism and an MA in English and Creative Writing, and he has been a writer-in-residence and visiting writer at Hollins University and Wesleyan University. His most recent book, Pacific, was published alongside The End of Vandalism and Hunts in Dreams as a 'Midwest trilogy' in German by Klett-Cotta in 2017.
Daniel Peña is a writer, reviewer, journalist, and blogger. His debut novel, BANG, chronicles the fate of two brothers living on the border between Mexico and the USA, “[v]ividly portraying the impact of international drug smuggling on the average person” and “prob[ing] the loss of talented individuals and the black market machines fed with the people removed and shut out of America.” It was published by Arte Público Press in 2017. Peña has also written numerous short stories and essays for venues like Ploughshares, Callaloo, and The Guardian, winning the Pushcart Prize in 2017 for his short story “Safe Home.”
Peña holds both Mexican and US citizenship, speaks English and Spanish fluently, and has lived in Mexico City for a while before settling in Texas, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Houston-Downtown. Previously, he worked at Louisiana State University and at Cornell University, from where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in 2013. He has received grants and awards from Cornell University as well as a Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico City, and he has held fellowships and residencies at both Cornell and Texas A&M University.
Rajesh Parameswaran is the author of I Am an Executioner, a collection of short stories that has been hailed as “mark[ing] the advent of a genuinely distinctive voice in American fiction” (Washington Post) with “stories that make us 'wonder the universe'” (New York Times Book Review). Among others, it was recognized as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year and as one of Amazon’s Books of the Year, and it has been been translated into German, Dutch, and Italian.
Parameswaran was born in Madras, India, raised in Michigan and Texas, and currently resides in New York. He earned a BA in English from Yale College and a JD from Yale Law School. Among a number of distinctions, he has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He has received a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has been a resident at institutions around the US, in Italy, and in France. His short stories have appeared in venues like Granta, McSweeney’s, and Zoetrope: All-Story.
Born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in Saudi Arabia and the United States, Sasha Pimentel is an acclaimed poet and author who has published, among others, in the New York Times Magazine, the American Poetry Review, Poets & Writers, and Guernica. She is the author of two prize-winning collections of poetry: Insides She Swallowed (2010), winner of the 2011 American Book Award, and For Want of Water (2017), which was selected for the 2016 National Poetry Series and was longlisted for the 2018 PEN/Open Book Award.
Sasha Pimentel is an Associate Professor of poetry and creative nonfiction at the University of Texas at El Paso, and she also teaches in a bilingual MFA program. She holds a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. In 2015, she received the University of Texas System’s Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.
Josh Weil is a prize-winning author of one novel, The Great Glass Sea (2014), and two collections, one of novellas (The New Valley, 2009) and one of short stories (The Age of Perpetual Light, 2017). His fiction has been noted for its “breadth, intensity and audacity of ambition” (New York Times) and for how it evokes “the mythic feel of a contemporary classic” (Los Angeles Times). Together, his three books have been awarded numerous prizes, among them the Sue Kaufman First Fiction Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the California Book Award, and a 5-Under-35 Award from the National Book Foundation.
Josh Weil was born in the Appalachian mountains of Southwest Virginia and now resides in California. He has been a featured fellow and guest instructor at institutions such as the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Gotham Writer's Workshop, Columbia University, and Bennington College. His short stories and essays have been widely published, for instance in Granta, Narrative, Guernica, American Short Fiction, Esquire, Ploughshares, the New York Times, and Salon. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BFA from Ohio University.
Morgan Jerkins is an author, journalist, and editor. Her debut, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America, has garnered extensive praise and recognition for how it “lucidly articulates social dynamics that have dictated the realities of American black women for centuries” (New York Times Book Review). The essay collection became a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Editors’ Choice Pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and was longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.
Jerkins has been called “a writer to be reckoned with” by Roxane Gay and “a star, a force, a blessing, a scholar and a critic” by Porochista Khakpour. Her short form work has been published in venues like The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The Guardian. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Bennington College Writing Seminars, a former Associate Editor at Catapult, has taught nonfiction at Columbia University’s MFA program, and is the Senior Editor of ZORA magazine under Medium.
A US-American writer of Amernian and Russian Romani descent, Oksana Marafioti is the author of American Gypsy: A Memoir (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012). Her writing brings together both her childhood memories from the Soviet Union and her experiences as an immigrant in the United States where she moved with her parents at age fifteen. Next to her memoir, her writings have appeared in magazines such as Rumpus, Slate, and Times as well as in several literary magazines and anthologies. Besides being a writer, Marafioti is a classically trained pianist and holds BS in Cinematography from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas as well as an MFA in Creative Writing. Marafioti was a 2013 Black Mountain Institute-Kluge Center Fellow and teaches creative writing at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Born in Toronto, where she still lives, Sheila Heti is the author of the international bestseller How Should a Person Be?. A prolific writer working in different genres, she has published several novels, short story collections, nonfiction, a children’s book, and a play. Most recently she published her autobiographical novel Motherhood to much critical acclaim, which deals with the decision of whether to have children. Motherhood has been translated into 18 different languages. Heti has received fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Fundacion Valparaiso, the Banff Centre, and Santa Maddalena. Besides her work as an author, Heti is the former Interviews Editor at The Believer magazine and has taught at universities including Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Yale, Claremont, Wesleyan, Rice University, and the University of Toronto.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Don Mee Choi is the author of DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020), which won the 2020 National Book Award. It was also the finalist for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Four Quartets Prize. Her other books inlcude Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and several pamphlets of poems and essays. She has received the 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry, 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize for her translation of Kim Hyesoon’s Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), 2019 DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship, 2016 Lannan Literary Fellowship, 2012 & 2019 Lucien Stryk Translation Prize, and 2011 Whiting Award for Poetry. Choi’s poetry incorporates photos by her father, a war photographer, and other visual and archival materials in order to explore the overlapping histories of Korea and the US. More of Choi’s books, translations, and interdisciplinary arts projects can be seen on her website.
Born in New Jersey, Hilary Leichter is the author of the novel Temporary (2020), which was shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award. Her writing has appeared in n+1, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times, Conjunctions, and has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Yaddo, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Her next two novels are forthcoming from Ecco. Hilary teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can find out more on her website.
Leichter’s work has been described as “wildly imaginative” by The New York Times, as “delirious and deepy humanes satire” by the Wall Street Journal, and as “[a] refreshingly whimsical debut that explores the agonies of millennial life under late capitalism with the kind of surrealist humor that will offer anxious minds a reprieve from our calamitous news cycle” by the Washington Post.Temporary has been published in German by Arche in 2021.
Emily Nemens’s debut novel, The Cactus League (FSG 2020, Picador 2021) was called “a wonderful, necessary read to remind you how infinite and wild other people can be” (The Brooklyn Rail). It was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and named one of the best books of the year by NPR. Her fiction has also appeared in Gettysburg Review, n+1, Iowa Review, and Blackbird. Emily spent a decade editing literary quarterlies, including The Paris Review, which won the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Award for Fiction under her tenure, and The Southern Review. She teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center at the 92NY in New York and is the sports/senior editor for the literary travel magazine Stranger’s Guide.