The Stonewall Riots were a flash point in LGBTQ history. After the riots that took place at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the LGBTQ civil rights movement went from handfuls of pioneering activists to a national movement mobilizing thousands.
Frank Collerius, Manager of the Jefferson Market branch at NYPL, interviews writer and curator Hugh Ryan about his new book 'when brooklyn was queer.' We also hear a reading of 'The How and Why of Virginia,' the personal story of Virginia Prince, the founder and editor of the magazine 'Transvestia,' read by actor LeLand Gantt.
Marlon James is a Jamaican novelist and winner of the Man Booker Prize. His recent book Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first in a epic trilogy that blends myth, fantasy, and history—what James has described as "African Game of Thrones." He spoke with fellow fantasy and comic book fan, Kevin Young, who is a poet and the Director for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. They talked about James' two years of research for the series, map making, Afrofuturism, and books they love, while unleashing their inner nerd.
The Gay Liberation Front was an organization recognized for publishing the first gay liberation newspaper in the world,"Come Out!". It provided openly queer media exposure for many activists, writers, and artists. In conjunction with the NYPL exhibition Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50, founding members of the GLF, Perry Brass and Karla Jay, speak with media and activism scholar Michael Bronski, and Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, co-hosts of WNYC Studios’ podcast Nancy. They discussed the fight for inclusion in the media, the rise of the queer press in the 1960s and 70s, and the lasting impact of its legacy.
Documentary filmmaker Erin Lee Carr remembers her father, legendary journalist David Carr, in a moving new memoir, "All That You Leave Behind." Erin Lee Carr, went looking for support and comfort in the lifetime of correspondence that they had shared. She was also looking for clues—advice the famous mentor, journalist, and father might have to offer on how to cope with her devastating loss, and continue on with her life and career. Erin Lee Carr will be joined by one of her father’s admiring mentees, Ta-Nehisi Coates, to discuss the legacy David Carr has left for his family, the journalistic community, and readers at large.
At age 83, Robert Caro pulls back the curtains on his process, in his new book "Working." He also answers the question he is asked most often: why does it take him so long to write his books? Caro is the author of the Robert Moses biography "The Power Broker" and "The Years of Lyndon Johnson," The biographer, who has spent much time doing what he does best in the Allen Room of The New York Public Library, returns to share some stories of his own with William P. Kelly, The New York Public Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries.
Dr. Carla Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress, the first African American and the first woman to hold this position. Tracy K. Smith is the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, and Director and Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University. In a conversation with Schomburg Director, Kevin Young they discussed their work, the future of Black librarianship and the democratization of libraries
The former executive editor of "The New York Times" tells the story of the news industry in her new book "Merchants of Truth." Jill Abramson traces the past ten years of four major news outlets and their prospective futures in the face of rapidly changing technologies, shifting business models, and a president who almost daily assails the mainstream media as fake news. She spoke with long-time friend and colleague, investigative reporter Jane Mayer.
Journalist, Eliza Griswold just won a Pulitzer Prize and a Bernstein Award for her recent book,"Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America." Even at its most basic level, the book is a fascinating story about the energy boom's relationship to the natural land. But it's also a moving portrait of a family—a resolute mother trying to care for her two children, sickened by the fracking fallout. Griswold sat down with NYPL's Gwen Glazer to talk about the making of this story, immersion journalism, and where things stand in rural America today.
Going undercover as a prison guard in Winnifield, Louisiana, journalist Shane Bauer exposes the brutality of for-profit private prison systems, and this country's history of outsourcing criminal punishment in his book "American Prison." This stunning work recently won NYPL's 2019 Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. In this conversation with Aidan Flax-Clark, Bauer discusses the making of this book, the dangers of private prisons in the U.S., and his personal difficulties balancing his identities as a prison guard and reporter.
In the search for meaningful criminal justice reform, are prosecutors one of the keys to change? In her new book, "Charged," journalist Emily Bazelon argues that prosecutors play an "outsize role" in mass incarceration -- from choosing the charge to setting bail to determining the plea bargain. To discuss the issue, Bazelon was joined by Stacey Abrams, a lawyer, novelist and politician who in 2018 campaigned for criminal justice reform as a candidate in a historic race for governor in Georgia.
G. Willow Wilson is a critically acclaimed novelist and co-creator of the first Muslim superhero with their own Marvel comic book series. Wilson's new book, The Bird King, is the story of a fantastical quest through the Iberian peninsula at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. She read from the novel and spoke with Hugo award-winning writer N. K. Jemisin about the power of imagining different worlds and how writing fantasy can expose reality.
Few people understand the state of our national security as well as Janet Napolitano and Joe Biden. Napolitano, former Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary and the first appointed by President Obama, has written about the subject in her new book,"How Safe Are We?" She spoke with Vice President Joe Biden, who—in addition to being Barack Obama's Vice President— chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sat on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security. “Homeland security is not only the job of the secretary or of the 240,000 professionals who work for the department,” says Napolitano, “it is everyone’s responsibility.”
When "Cat Person" appeared in "The New Yorker" in December 2017, it quickly became a viral hit, striking a chord with readers at the height of the #MeToo Movement. People seemed surprised by the Internet popularity of a long form fiction story—including its author, Kristen Roupenian. "You Know You Want This" is Roupenian's highly anticipated debut collection of stories that, like "Cat Person," dwells in discomfort and is compulsively readable. "The New Yorker"'s fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, joined her for a conversation about why she chose "Cat Person" from a stack of other submissions, Roupenian's new book and plans for an upcoming horror film.
The 1970s are sometimes hailed as the true dawn of young-adult literature, the decade when authors like Judy Blume and Lois Lowry showed that teen readers were worth taking seriously. Decades later, J.K. Rowling revolutionized YA, permanently broadening its appeal to adults. But teen fiction of the '80s and '90s is often ignored. Bustle editor and writer Gabrielle Moss has a soft spot in her heart for what she calls the genre's "intellectual dead zone"—the era of The Baby-sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and so many more girl-centered series. In this interview with NYPL's Gwen Glazer, Moss discusses her new book "Paperback Crush," which makes the case for why the YA fiction of the '80s and '90s shouldn't be overlooked, and why it's so much fun to revisit.
Over 200 years ago, a teenage girl started a literary legacy that continues to haunt us today. Why do we still keep telling this story and how does it reflect our darkest fears? The New York Public Library's curators join monster theory scholars and best-selling authors to trace the history of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley’s classic. This special podcast episode unpacks the genius of Shelley’s novel, its origins and evolution—from the British Romantics to Black Lives Matter—to uncover how the story helps us better understand ourselves, our humanity, and our future.
This week we're featuring part two of Marilynne Robinson's lecture on American society, government and economy titled "Liberalism and American Tradition." Robinson discusses our country's Puritan history and how society constructs value, referencing a number of political philosophers and social reformers.
Marilynne Robinson is one of the most celebrated American writers—she won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was awarded a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama, to name just a few of her accolades. She recently delivered a lecture on American Civilization and Government titled "Liberalism and American Tradition," which traces the origins of liberalism. Part two of the lecture will be released next week.
Despite the fact that New York City is one of the most diverse places in the country our school system is among the most segregated. As part of the nationwide campaign, Black Lives Matter at School Week, Schomburg Center's Associate Director of Education, Brian Jones organized a panel about this issue and how to challenge structural racism in schools. Featuring award-winning journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, public school teacher José Vilson, and two NYC high school student activists Xoya David and Joshua Brown.
Howard Zinn’s seminal 1980 work "A People’s History of the United States" challenged dominant narratives of our country’s past by uncovering its darker truths; nearly 40 years later, a new collection of speculative fiction, "A People’s Future of the United States" challenges our visions of tomorrow. Like Zinn's work, this collection of stories centers on the experiences of traditionally marginalized communities. The collection's co-editor, Victor LaValle, speaks with four contributors— Maria Dahvana Headley, N.K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, and Sam J. Miller—about the fantasies and projections for the future of the country.
Jason Rezaian is an American journalist and author of a new memoir. In 2014, while reporting in Tehran for the Washington Post , he was arrested and wrongfully convicted of espionage by Iranian authorities. Rezaian recounts his experience in "Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out." Rezaian sat down with New Yorker editor David Remnick for a conversation about his experience, the books he read in prison that were most comforting, and his experience coming home after incarceration.
Internationally bestselling author Ha Jin discussed his latest book—a new biography about legendary eighth-century Chinese poet, Li Bai. Ha Jin read some of the poet's lesser known works, and described Li’s unconventional lifestyle which he researched for his book, "The Banished Immortal." From the poet’s life-long interests in swordsmanship and celestial bodies, to his excessive drinking, rumors of manslaughter, and the numerous myths about is death—Ha Jin sheds new light on the poet and why he is still loved today.
Sally Wen Mao is the author of "Oculus," a collection of poems that explores sight and being seen, futuristic worlds and historical figures. She completed this collection during her Cullman Center Fellowship at NYPL in 2016-2017. In conversation with fellow poet, Jenny Xie, Mao shared some of the archival materials she used in her research, including those of the first Chinese American actress Anna May Wong. They discussed Asian American futurism, representation in Hollywood, and how a Solange concert at the Guggenheim inspired one of her poems.
Maria Popova & Claudia Bedrick curated an anthology of letters and original illustrations by 121 of the most interesting and inspiring culture-makers alive today. "A Velocity of Being," Popova's project that was eight years in the making, asked each contributor to write a letter to a young reader about the power of reading. To celebrate the book’s release, contributors took to the stage at The New York Public Library to share what they wrote. Featured readings and performances by: Jad Abumrad, Sophie Blackall, Alexander Chee, Mohammed Fairouz, Adam Gopnik, Paul Holdengräber, Sarah Kay, Dawn Landes, Morley, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, and Naomi Wolf. All proceeds from "A Velocity of Being" will benefit the public libraries of New York City. Read more about the book on Brain Pickings.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah sheds light on a modern day America full of racial violence, greed, and heartbreak in his debut collection of short stories, "Friday Black." Focusing on the struggles of young black men and women, his characters fight to survive with their humanity intact. In conversation with writer Mychal Denzel Smith, Adjei-Brenyah discuses his approach to writing satire, the perils of capitalism, and how to stay hopeful while creating dystopian fiction.
Our friends from NYPL's The Librarian Is In podcast recorded their first-ever live episode, featuring NYU sociologist and author Eric Klinenberg. His new book "Palaces for the People" looks at how shared public spaces like gardens, child-care centers, and—yep, you guessed it—libraries are essential to maintaining a healthy democratic society. Klinenberg talks about his research at NYPL's Seward Park branch, social infrastructure, and what books he's reading with podcast hosts and librarians, Gwen and Frank.
To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Dickens' classic, we're rebroadcasting this very special reading by writer and comic book author, Neil Gaiman. His live performance from 2013 uses a rare prompt copy that belonged to Charles Dickens himself and now resides in The New York Public Library. Dickens marked it up and annotated it for the express purpose of performing the story in front of an audience, which he did regularly in the 1850s and 1860s.
Award-winning journalist Alma Guillermoprieto delivered this year's annual Robert B. Silvers lecture, a series named in honor of the co-founding editor of The New York Review of Books. In her lecture titled “Among the Drug Dealers, Criminals, Rapists: A Reporting Life in Latin America,” Guillermoprieto shares insights from her 40 years of experience. Born in Mexico, Guillermoprieto came to New York in 1965 to join the Martha Graham dance studio. By the late 1970s, she had left dance to cover the Central American civil wars as a journalist. Since then she has written extensively about Latin America for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and National Geographic.
Wayétu Moore's debut novel explores African diasporic identity through historical fiction and magical realism. In a conversation with Buzzfeed writer, Isaac Fitzgerald, Moore talks about the stories behind her new book "She Would Be King": the history of her native Liberia and the childhood stories her family used to tell her. Moore says, "I grew up hearing stories that always included someone disappearing or shapeshifting or casting a spell...when I moved to America these things were relegated to Disney, but back home, that just wasn't the case."
In his seventh collection of essays, The Patch, master non-fiction writer John McPhee shares a montage of stories and reflections that range from a visit to the Hershey chocolate factory to encounters with Oscar Hammerstein, Joan Baez, and Mount Denali. Calling on his signature devotion to structure, McPhee has winnowed this body of work to present a random assembly he calls an “album quilt,” a memoir as only he could write it. He spoke with Paul Holdengräber about the arc of his life and career.
Wyatt Cenac moderates a panel of Washington insiders and journalists about the mechanics of Congress, the archetypes for today's lawmakers, and advice on how constituents can ensure their representatives take action. Featuring Washington Post senior congressional correspondent Paul Kane and ProPublica's Derek Willis, Stevens Institute of Technology assistant professor of political science Lindsay Cormack, When We All Vote communications director and former Congressional Black Caucus staffer Stephanie L. Young, and James Wallner, R Street senior fellow and former congressional staffer,
Did you know that when James Baldwin was writing "If Beale Street Could Talk" he was also writing a children's book? "Little Man, Little Man" was inspired by his young nephew and was first published in 1976. At the time, it got mixed reviews, went out of print and was largely forgotten. But 40 years later, that book has been republished. Baldwin's niece and nephew, Aisha Karefa-Smart and Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart stopped by the Schomburg for Research in Black Culture to talk about their childhood and memories of their uncle. Joining them were the co-editors of the new edition of the book, Jennifer DeVere Brody and Nicholas Boggs. Their conversation was moderated by author and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jacqueline Woodson.
More than 30 years after a fire destroyed 400,000 books at the Los Angeles Public Library's Central Library, journalist Susan Orlean re-examines the tragedy in "The Library Book." Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992; her quest to piece together the events surrounding this little-known tale was fueled by her relentless curiosity, a love of reading, and a profound appreciation for the democratic institution of the library. "Libraries are remembering for a whole culture," she said. "That's what books do for all of us—preserve memory."
Carol Anderson is an historian, educator, and author of "White Rage." Her latest book, "One Person, No Vote," is a timely survey of how voting rights have been rolled back in this country following the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Dr. Anderson's work exposes racially biased voter suppression methods happening today. Joining Dr. Anderson was Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
The bestselling English novelist of "The Essex Serpent," Sarah Perry, stopped by the Library to talk about her newest novel,"Melmoth." The books origins lie in an obscure 19th-century Gothic novel of the same name and an illness that upended her life. She discussed how the earlier novel and her personal experiences combined to birth the phantasmagoric nightmare at the heart of Melmoth's plot.
Darnell L. Moore and Charlene Carruthers are two dynamic leaders and organizers committed to intersectional liberation in movements for Black lives. They are also friends and writers. Moore and Carruthers recently spoke at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and read from each other's recent works: Moore's debut memoir "No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free", and Carruthers's "Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, & Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements."
While training for a charity boxing match at Madison Square Garden, writer Thomas Page McBee gained insight into how masculinity operates in the ring and in society— McBee became the first known trans man to box in the historic venue. He stopped by the Library to talk about this experience, the subject of his new book Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man. Amanda Hess, a critic-at-large for the New York Times joined McBee to discuss the meaning of toxic masculinity,violence, and what it means to be a "real man."
In her new book, "Good and Mad" Rebecca Traister uncovers the history of women's anger in American politics—from the suffragettes to #MeToo. She argues that this collective fury is often the hidden force that drives political change, but rarely has it ever been hailed as fundamentally transformative or patriotic. To discuss her book and what it says about our current political state, Traister was joined by Aminatou Sow, co-host of the podcast "Call Your Girlfriend."
When famed fashion and society photographer Bill Cunningham died in 2016, he left behind not only an incredible archive of New York Times columns and photographs, but two identical copies of a secret memoir that he apparently hoped someone would find. His family discovered the book, which Cunningham himself titled Fashion Climbing. The Library celebrated its release with the book’s editor, Christopher Richards, and New Yorker critic Hilton Als, who wrote its preface. They were joined by artist and co-founder of Paper, Kim Hastreiter, who was a close acquaintance of the late photographer.
The world’s leading philanthropists are constantly working to “make the world a better place,” leading passionate campaigns against everything from climate change to poverty that had once been the province of governments. Journalist Anand Giridharadas asks whether those rich and powerful people who have most benefitted from “our highly inequitable status quo” are in fact the best candidates to take on these challenges. When are their solutions democratic and universal, and when do they reflect and support the biases that introduced the inequity in the first place? In conversation with Joy-Ann Reid, political analyst for MSNBC and host of “AM Joy,” Giridharadas discussed his new book, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” a call to action—for elite and everyday citizens alike—to build more egalitarian institutions.
Vladimin Nabokov's "Lolita" is one of the most widely-read classics of twentieth century; however, few are familiar with the true story of an eleven-year-old-girl named Sally Horner, whose story bears an eerie resemblance to that of Nabokov's Dolores Hayes. In "The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World," author Sarah Weinman traces the connections between these two girls and their stories. Weinman stopped by NYPL to revisit her research using the Nabokov Papers that question the role of facts within fiction.
Tim Gunn is the Emmy Award-winning former producer of "Project Runway," where for 16 seasons he mentored contestants with charm and care. But when he isn’t busy making it work, chances are he has his nose in a book. In a live conversation series presented in collaboration with the National Book Foundation, Gunn spoke about some of the most powerful books in his life, the reads that have stayed with him since his early teens. His conversation partner: fellow avid reader—and best-selling novelist—Min Jin Lee, whose most recent book, Pachinko, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Before the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016, there was The Up Stairs Lounge fire. Author Robert Fieseler sets the largely overlooked tragedy of the Up Stairs Lounge arson that killed 32 people in its rightful historical place with "Tinderbox:The Untold Story of The Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation." The 1973 mass murder dragged a closeted, blue-collar gay community into the national public eye, that shortly after was forgotten—until now. Fieseler discussed how he discovered this story, his research in New Orleans, and other findings in his book with Eric Marcus, creator and host of the award-winning book and podcast "Making Gay History."
Exciting news! Starting next episode, "The New York Public Library Podcast" will be renamed "Library Talks." We'll still be featuring the same public talks recorded live at NYPL with today's top writers and thinkers—we're just updating with a new logo, name, and release date. Weekly episodes will now be released Sunday mornings to round out the weekend and inspire you for the week ahead. Stay tuned for the new changes in your feed this Sunday September 2nd! Questions or comments? You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist. In his new book, The Order of Time, Rovelli asks "Why do we remember the past and not the future…What ties time to our nature as persons, to our subjectivity?" Rovelli is the head of the Quantum Gravity group at the Centre de Physique Théorique of Aix-Marseille University and has devoted his life's work to understanding what time might truly be. Author and philosopher, Jim Holt spoke with Rovelli about the past, future, and why there isn't exactly a "now."
Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad's most recent book, Two Daughters: A Father, his Daughters, and their Journey into the Syrian Jihad, is a heart-pounding thriller tracing the radicalization of two teenage girls. In 2013, the two Somali youth abandoned their family and their adopted home in Oslo to travel into Syria and become part of a jihadist movement. As soon as they disappeared, their father dedicated his existence to finding them and bringing them home. Seierstad explains the family narrative, her sources, and the ethical concerns of telling their complicated story. The best way to support this podcast is with a gift to The New York Public Library. Click here to donate.
For as far back as she can remember, writer Porochista Khakpour has been sick. She was recently diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease and has written her first memoir about her illness, Sick. Khakpour sat down with one of her literary heroes Eileen Myles for a conversation about her experience with the disease and how it has affected her as a writer, activist, and lover of New York City. Khakpour says "it's a diaristic book and I wanted there to be a lot of honesty... a lot of capturing myself, not at my best but at my worst." The best way to support this podcast is with a gift to The New York Public Library. Click here to donate.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins stopped by the Library earlier this Spring to read some of his work, share a few tips on the creative process, and land a few jokes. He sat down with Paul Holdengräber for a conversation about their favorite writers and his career, from the back pages of Rolling Stone magazine to the Library of Congress. Plus, Collins reads some of his recent work. The best way to support this podcast is with a gift to The New York Public Library. Click here to donate.
Earlier this spring, our friends from The World in Words Podcast recorded a live show at NYPL's very own Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library. The podcast, hosted by is about languages and the people who speak them. For this special episode, hosts Nina Porzucki and Patrick Cox shared stories about the history of Braille, why whale calls go viral like pop songs, and the difficulties of preserving languages in the U.S. through generations. Subscribe to The World in Words Podcast
Roxane Gay's latest book, "Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture," is a collection of first-person essays that directly tackle rape, sexual assault and harassment. With writer and organizer, Aja Monet, Gay discusses how their stories fit into the national conversation about sexual assault, the pitfalls of the #MeToo Movement, the pressure to "perform one's trauma," and the complex work that still needs to be done towards healing and justice.
Twenty years after Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize for "The God of Small Things," she returned to writing fiction in 2017 with her novel "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness." The book was hailed for its ability to juggle “the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation.” Roy spoke with Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose novel "The Sympathizer" won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. Together they discussed Roy's life before she became a writer, the relationships between writing and political activism, plus Roy reads from "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness."
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx brings together political analysts from the right and left to ask what the future holds for American democracy and for democracies around the world. Peter Beinart is a contributing editor at "The Atlantic" and associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Jonah Goldberg is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and senior editor at "National Review." In Goldberg's new book, "Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy," he argues that non-democratic surges are not the root causes of our problems but rather symptoms. Peter Beinart has written of his concern for the current presidential administration that is "evidence of a global authoritarian turn, a shedding of checks and balances."
Bernstein Book Award finalist, "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century" tells the stories of a growing population of "workampers"—retirement-age Americans who live and work on the road full-time, taking seasonal jobs and living out of RVs, vans, and travel trailers. Author Jessica Bruder found that the best way to get to know her nomadic subjects was to join them. In a secondhand vehicle she named "Van Halen," Bruder lived and worked alongside the workampers. Traveling over 15 thousand miles, they visited everywhere from amusement parks to Amazon warehouses. In an interview with host Aidan Flax-Clark, Bruder shares her surprising findings, plus more van puns!
Playwrights Tarell Alvin McCraney and Donja R. Love stopped by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture earlier this spring. McCraney is the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Moonlight" and a MacArthur Fellow. Love is an award-winning playwright, poet, and filmmaker from Philadelphia. In a conversation with NYU professor of theatre, Michael D. Dinwiddie, they discussed Black joy, the legacy of queer writers and playwrights and the people in their lives who have influenced their work.
Until recently, George Saunders was best known for his short stories and essays. Then his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Saunders spoke with Paul Holdengräber about the book as well as the broader arc of his life and career, covering everything from comedy to fathers to Buddhism to reporting on Trump rallies.
Before there was Rikers Island, there was Blackwell's—today known as Roosevelt Island. Historian Stacy Horn's newest book Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York is the first in-depth look at its dark past. In addition to a penitentiary, the small strip of land housed an almshouse, mental institution, and a number of hospitals for the poor—which, as one can imagine, lead to disturbing outcomes for the city's most disenfranchised people. From annual reports of the Women's Prison Association to an unpublished autobiography of a survivor of the NYC draft riots, Horn walks us through some of her findings from the NYPL archives used to write this chilling story, and how it sheds light on the same issues of today.
Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and New Yorker poetry editor, recently published a new collection of poems titled "Brown: Poems." From James Brown to John Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed., Young meditates on all things "brown" and the ways culture shaped his personal experience growing up in Kansas. Joining him to discuss the book was Claudia Rankine, professor of poetry at Yale University and the author of "Citizen: An American Lyric." Rankine asks Young about his childhood memories, musical influences, and pop culture that makes us dance and think at the same time.
Literary icon and friend of The New York Public Library, Tom Wolfe passed away last week at the age of 88. Wolfe became a Library Lion in 1981, and is the author of many books, including The Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff. Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was first released in 1968, chronicling American counterculture. Half a century later, TASCHEN released an abridgment of the text, with photographs and ephemera from the era. Wolfe's last appearance at the Library was this conversation with Paul Holdengräber, which included readings of Wolfe's work by actor René Auberjonois.
Masha Gessen’s book The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia is the winner of the Library’s 2018 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. A defining account of Russia’s post-Soviet era, it asks how the country’s prospects for democracy disappeared under the rule of Vladimir Putin. Taking on a novelistic approach, Gessen wove together the stories of four protagonists born in the last decade of the Soviet Union, earning last year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction. Gessen is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has also been a contributor to The New York Review of Books and the author of several books.
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” is one of Zora Neale Hurston’s most important works of non-fiction that has never been published until today. Hurston recorded the story in Alabama in the late 1920s. It's a collection of interviews with a man named Kossola, also known as Cudjo Lewis, one of the last known living survivors of the Atlantic slave trade. To discuss the book's history and Hurston's legacy, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture welcomed Dr. Cheryl Sterling, Director of the Black Studies Program at City College of New York, to moderate a conversation featring: Hurston scholar and editor of Barracoon, Deborah G. Plant; founder of book club Well-Read Black Girl, Glory Edim; and Dr. Sylviane Diouf, an award-winning author and historian of the African Diaspora.
Madeline Miller's first novel, The Song of Achilles, transformed The Iliad from a vast impersonal epic into an intimate and poignant love story. Now Miller turns her mind to Homer's other great work, and one of mythology's most riveting figures, in Circe. It's the retelling of The Odyssey in which a fierce young woman is at the center. Madeline Miller discusses her writing process, witchcraft, and why this story resonates today with classicist and translator Emily Wilson, the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English.
Joshua Green's Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Nationalist Uprising, was one of the first books to shed light on the Trump campaign and Bannon's influence on their way to the White House. A finalist for NYPL's 2018 Helen Berstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, Green stopped by the Library to talk about what it was like to interview the President, what actually motivates his former Chief Strategist and how getting kicked out of the White House doesn't necessarily mean you're out for good.
Last December, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3–2 to repeal net neutrality—which left many people wondering "why should we be concerned about the repeal and what can be done about it?" Library President Tony Marx convened a panel of experts to help shed light on the issue including: Susan Crawford, Professor at Harvard Law School and member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Broadband Task Force; Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner to the Federal Communications Commission; and Tim Wu, Professor at Columbia Law School who coined the term "net neutrality" over a decade ago. They discussed where things stand now and where we can go from here.
Sheelah Kolhatkar is a staff writer at The New Yorker and is a former hedge fund analyst. Her book, Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, tells the story of Steven A. Cohen and his involvement in the largest insider-trading scandal in U.S history. The book is one of the five finalists selected for NYPL's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. Kolhatkar dropped by the Library to discuss how she wrote this real-life thriller, what Cohen is up to today, and why people outside of the financial world should be paying attention.
Actor Isabella Rossellini raises chickens; evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen studies them. In My Chickens Rossellini unexpectedly breeds 38 yellow chicks of diverse heritage breeds and capitalizes on the opportunity to study their traits, behavior, and history. In Darwin Comes to Town, Schilthuizen posits that the strange and rapid adaptations made by animals in urban environments suggest that evolution is perhaps not the slow grinding process biologists have long believed in. From husbandry to research, Rossellini and Schilthuizen share some of the mysteries and wonders of our animal kingdoms.
How have social justice movements evolved in the fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death? Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an author and professor of African American Studies at Princeton University whose research examines race and public policy. Shaun King is a writer for The Intercept and prominent public activist speaking out against police brutality. They discussed race in America, why movements succeed or fail, Martin Luther King Jr.'s fluctuating reputation during his life and after his death, and the social movements they envision for tomorrow.
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx brought together criminal-justice-reform advocates from the right and left to discuss the complex issues of American incarceration—Reginald Dwayne Betts, an award-winning writer and current Ph.D. candidate at Yale Law School, and Pat Nolan, Director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform. Although they come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, both have direct experience within the prison system and both have dedicated their life's work toward prison reform. They discuss how the tragedies of American incarceration started, how they persist and what action is needed for change.
Civil Rights leader and legendary athlete, Dr. John Carlos, made history on the Olympic podium in 1968. After medaling in the 200 meter race in Mexico City, he and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute during the national anthem. Marking fifty years since that iconic moment, Dr. Carlos spoke with Sports Editor of The Nation and co-author of his memoir, Dave Zirin. Dr. Carlos shares his story of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the hardships he faced after the '68 Olympics, and the message he has for athletes continuing the movement for racial justice today.
Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist. "Freshwater" is Emezi's debut novel and one of the most anticipated books of 2018. The partially autobiographical story follows a young person, Ada, from Nigeria to American college, where a traumatic event reveals the hidden powers of the spirits within her. Emezi discussed the novel with Glory Edim, founder of the book club and digital platform, Well-Read Black Girl. She traced the origin story behind Freshwater, decolonizing identities, and navigating transition.
The comedian and actor Patton Oswalt shares the posthumous true-crime masterpiece written by his wife Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly at the age of 46 in 2016. McNamara, a true crime reporter and creator of TrueCrimeDiary.com, spent years tracking a serial killer she dubbed the Golden State Killer. Between 1976 and 1986 he committed 50 sexual assaults and 10 murders up and down California. Oswalt wrote, “I can't help feeling that somewhere, in her final pages, she left enough clues for someone to finish the job she couldn't—to put California's worst serial killer behind bars.” Plus: a behind-the-scenes private tour of items from NYPL's true crime collections.
In 1971 when Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers and revealed the true story of American involvement in Vietnam, he was holding on to a much larger and more terrifying set of American secrets than he was letting on. Ellsberg had to wait almost fifty years to bring them to light. What those secrets were and why they remained hidden for so long are revealed in his new book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.
Inspired by her research into the painful realities of American incarceration, Jones’ “An American Marriage” blends equal parts heartbreak and humor to tell the love story of a young couple whose marriage is tested by an unexpected calamity. In a conversation with Isaac Fitzgerald, founding editor of Buzzfeed Books and co-host of Twitter Show, #AmtoDM, Jones talks about her writing process, her relationships with her characters, and what it felt like to get an unannounced call from Oprah herself.
To celebrate the publication of When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and her co-author asha bandele stopped by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Akiba Solomon, Editorial Director of Colorlines, interviews the two about the history of Black Lives Matter, from hashtag to global movement.
What do Mark Zuckerberg and Martin Luther have in common? Historian and political commentator Niall Ferguson explains in his newest book The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook. Ferguson stopped by The New York Public Library to speak with Gillian Tett, U.S. Managing Editor of the Financial Times, about the power and limitations of networks throughout history, our news feeds and censorship.
How did a former Harvard professor turned counterculture icon become an international fugitive? Authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis explain the larger-than-life story of Timothy Leary, the middle-aged acid enthusiast of the early 1970s. The PEN award-winning writers talk about their research at NYPL and remarkable true story at the heart of their newest book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon & the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD.
The James Beard Award–winning food historian and cookbook writer was at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture this past fall to talk about her memoir, My Soul Looks Back, with chef and co-host of ABC's The Chew, Carla Hall.
The journalist and 2017 National Book Award Winner delivered the Library's annual Robert B. Silvers Lecture. The talk is named in honor of the co-founding editor of the New York Review of Books, who died in March 2017. With unexpected candor and intimacy, Gessen traced her own life as a sequence of choices and explored how notions of choice affect ideas about immigration, identity, and purpose.
Neil Gaiman's reading from 2013 uses a rare prompt copy that belonged to Charles Dickens himself and now resides in The New York Public Library. Dickens marked it up and annotated it for the express purpose of performing the story in front of an audience, which he did regularly in the 1850s and 1860s.
Is self-interest the only force motivating business? Or can altruism be an equally powerful driver? It's a question that Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize–winning father of microcredit, answers in his latest book, A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions. He spoke with fellow economist Jeffrey Sachs.
The titan of American poetry was at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in November to talk about her latest collection, A Good Cry. She spoke with Joy-Ann Reid, the host of MSNBC's AM Joy.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning literary historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright discuss Greenblatt's latest book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, "a life history of one of the most extraordinary stories ever told." Exploring the power of narrative to travel from myth into reality, Greenblatt and Kushner traced the tale from its biblical origins through its imaginings in the minds of writers and artists from St. Augustine to Albrecht Dürer to John Milton.
The Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Poetry Editor of The New Yorker speaks with Garnette Cadogan about his most recent work of nonfiction, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. Young traces the particularly American tradition of cons, hoaxes, and fakes, from P. T. Barnum to today.
The Soviet famine of the early 1930s killed around 5 million people; almost 4 million of them were Ukrainians. As Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum demonstrates in her latest book, Red Famine, it wasn't fate or chance that skewed those numbers so heavily—it was something much more deliberate, and much more sinister. And the story behind it was, until recently, in danger of disappearing. Applebaum spoke about recovering it at the New York Public Library with John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary magazine.
Envisioning the archives of the future with the Chicago-based artist, who was joined by Nettrice Gaskins, director of the STEAM Lab at the Boston Arts Academy, and Greg Carr, a professor at Howard University.
Jones may be known as a liberal activist, but his new book, "Beyond the Messy Truth," is a call to action for all Americans seeking a way out of our ideological and cultural divisions. He spoke about it at the Library with CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.
Ulysses S. Grant has for decades routinely listed as one of our worst presidents. Ron Chernow says the legacy of the Civil War hero and 18th president is deeply misunderstood, making the case in both his latest book and in this conversation with Richard Stengel, former managing editor of TIME magazine.
The co-editors of the essay collection Nasty Women along with select contributors to it explore the complications of being an American woman in 2017. Featuring Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay, with Kera Bolonik, Zerlina Maxwell, and Meredith Talusan. Moderated by Jezebel founder Anna Holmes.
Twenty years in the making, Greater Gotham is Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Mike Wallace's follow-up to his 1999 Gotham. He spoke about the New York City history, which covers 1898 to 1918, with the New Yorker's Jelani Cobb.
The National Book Award–winning author spoke at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture about her most recent novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing. She was joined by Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.
Two writers, two beautiful books, both on the subject of death. Atul Gawande's Being Mortal examines the lengths modern medicine must go to better humanize the final stages of our lives. Elizabeth Alexander's The Light of the World is the memoir of her husband Ficre's sudden and unexpected death, and Alexander's process of grieving and rebuilding that followed it.
The host and co-creator of Studio 360 discusses his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-Year History. He spoke with NYU professor Kwame Anthony Appiah. Andersen argues that the roots of our post-truth, alternative facts present can be discovered in America's "promiscuous devotion to the untrue" and its instinct to believe in make believe, evident across four centuries of magical thinkers and true believers, hucksters and suckers, who have embedded an appetite for believe-whatever-you-want fantasy into our national DNA.
The Nigerian writer discusses her debut novel, Stay With Me, the haunting tale of a young couple whose childless marriage threatens to tear them apart. It was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and hailed by Michiko Kakutani as "powerfully magnetic and heartbreaking."
Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and best-selling author Judy Collins came to the Library back in February, to celebrate the publication of her most recent book, Cravings. “As an active, working alcoholic with an eating disorder,” she writes, “I yearned for serenity and was tormented for much of my life by longings, addictions, and painful crises over food: bingeing, bulimia, weight loss and gain.”