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National Book Festival 2009 Page one of two

   

Didn't make to the National book festival?  Me neither, but here's a peek at the celebration. Now in its ninth year, this popular event celebrating the joys of reading and lifelong literacy was held on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and is free and open to the public.  This impressive list may have us booking our trip for next year.  This is a look at US literature today.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama served as Honorary Chairs of the 2009 National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress.

Sabiha Al Khemir

Sabiha Al Khemir was born in Tunisia and now lives in London. She has taught courses in Islamic art at the British Museum and has consulted for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the same field. She lectures worldwide on Islamic Art and various cultural topics. Her first novel, "Waiting in the Future for the Past to Come," was published in 1993. Her second novel, "The Blue Manuscript" (2008), focuses on the interaction of Western and Islamic cultures.

Julia Alvarez

Although Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, her family moved to the Dominican Republic shortly after her birth, where she spent the majority of her childhood. In 1960, when Alvarez was 10, her family returned to the United States, fleeing the Dominican Republic because of her father’s involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Alvarez calls herself an American, yet her writing bridges the realms of Latina and American culture. Alvarez’s latest books include "Return to Sender" (2009) and "Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA" (2007).

David Baldacci

David Baldacci, trial and corporate attorney turned author, has written seven original screenplays, short stories, a novella, a children’s book series and 14 consecutive New York Times best-sellers, including "The Collectors" (2006), whose crime occurs in the Library of Congress; "Simple Genius" (2007); and "Divine Justice" (2008). Baldacci’s latest release, "First Family" (2009), is also a best-seller. With more than 50 million copies in print worldwide, his books have been published in more than 40 languages and in more than 80 countries. A tireless advocate for literacy and the importance of reading, he is the co-founder, with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. He lives in Virginia.

Dan Balz

Washington Post writer Dan Balz has reported on politics for the newspaper since 1978, serving as national editor, political editor, White House correspondent and as the paper’s Southwest correspondent. He is frequently seen on PBS’s "Washington Week," moderated by Gwen Ifill. In 1999 he received the American Political Science Association award for his coverage of politics. Before coming to the Post, he worked as a reporter and deputy editor for National Journal and as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is co-author, with Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, of the 1996 book "Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival" and (with Haynes Johnson) of "The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election" (2009).

 
 
 
 

Mary Brigid Barrett

Mary Brigid Barrett is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, a professional educator and president and executive director of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance. Her books include "Sing to the Stars," a Best Book of the National Council of Social Studies Teachers; "Day Care Days" (1999), winner of the Oppenheim Gold Award; and "The Man of the House at Huffington Row" (1998), a Best Book of the National Storyteller Association. She is editor of the NCBLA publication "Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out" (2008), a read-aloud family anthology of prose, poetry, drama, nonfiction and art that promotes reading and historical literacy. All profits for "Our White House" support the work and programs of the NCBLA. Barrett is also the organizer of the Library of Congress’ exclusive chapter book called "The Exquisite Corpse," which makes its debut in the Children’s Pavilion at the 2009 National Book Festival and at www.read.gov. She lives in Massachusetts.

Holly Black

Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for children and teens. She was influenced by a childhood spent reading books about ghosts and fairies. Her first book, "Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale" (2002), was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award. Her latest book is "The Wyrm King" (2009), the final book in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles series. Black describes finishing the series as "bittersweet." She lives in Massachusetts.

Judy Blume

 

Judy Blume has sold more than 80 million copies of such young-adult best-sellers as "Blubber" (1974), "Just as Long as We’re Together" (1987) and "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret" (1970) as well as the adult titles "Summer Sisters" (1998), "Smart Women" (1983) and "Wifey" (1978). Her books have been translated into 31 languages, and she has won numerous awards for her writing, such as the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Library Association and the Living Legends award from the Library of Congress. Blume is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation. Her newest book is "Friend or Fiend? With the Pain & the Great One" (2009). She lives on islands along the East Coast.

Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America’s new past master." Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His "The Great Deluge" won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Brinkley’s latest book is "The Wilderness Warrior," which focuses on the environmental achievements of Theodore Roosevelt. He also wrote the foreword to David A. Taylor’s "Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America" (2009). Brinkley lives in Texas.

Ken Burns

Ken Burns may be best known for his monumental documentary "The Civil War," which was viewed by more than 40 million people when it premiered in 1990, but he has been producing groundbreaking documentaries for more than 30 years, including "Baseball," "Jazz" and "The Brooklyn Bridge." He has won 10 Emmy Awards and also been twice-nominated for an Academy Award. His newest project is "The National Parks: America’s Best Idea," to be broadcast on PBS in six episodes beginning Sept. 27. His collaborator on the series is Dayton Duncan. Ken Burns lives in New Hampshire.

Patrick Carman

Patrick Carman is the acclaimed author of the New York Times best-selling Land of Elyon series, as well the Atherton and Elliot’s Park series. He is the author of "The Black Circle," the newest installment in the best-selling multimedia adventure series "The 39 Clues." His multimedia ghost story "Skeleton Creek" was published early this year. The follow-up title, "Ghost in the Machine, "will be published in October 2009. Patrick has worked in advertising, game design and technology and spends his free time supporting literacy campaigns and community organizations. He lives in Washington state.

Lee Child

Lee Child is the pen name of British thriller writer Jim Grant. Each of Child’s novels follows the adventures of a former American military policeman named Jack Reacher, who is wandering the United States. In 1997 his first novel, "Killing Floor," was published, and Child moved to the United States from his native England. "Gone Tomorrow" is his 13th Jack Reacher adventure. He has said that he chose the name "Reacher" for the central character in his novels because he is himself tall and, in a supermarket, his wife, Jane, told him: "Hey, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket." Child lives in France and New York.

Mary Jane Clark

New York Times best-selling author Mary Jane Clark has written 12 novels, all set in the high-stakes world of broadcast journalism, including "Dying for Mercy" (2009). Clark’s real-world assignments have informed her writing: Clark worked at CBS News headquarters in New York for three decades, and that experience led her to create KEY, a fictional television network. Covering the 1992 presidential conventions led to the idea for her first book, "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" The anthrax scares at all three U.S. network news headquarters in 2001 inspired "Nowhere to Run" (2003). She lives in New Jersey and Florida.

Margaret Coel

Margaret Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series, set among the Arapahos on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest John O’Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. The latest is "The Silent Spirit" (2009). The novels have received wide recognition, including the Colorado Book Award and the Willa Cather Award for Best Novel of the West. Coel’s articles on the West have appeared in The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Creativity and many other publications. She lives in Colorado, where, she says, "I drink in the West."

 

Michael Connelly

After he read the books of Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly decided to become a writer. After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., specializing in the crime beat. He eventually landed a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, bringing him to the city that his literary hero, Chandler, had written of. After three years on the crime beat, Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, "The Black Echo," based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly has followed up with many more Bosch books and other novels. "The Overlook," Connelly’s 18th novel, was originally serialized in The New York Times Magazine. His 20th novel, "The Scarecrow," was released in May 2009. He lives in Florida.

Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech’s college literature and writing courses and her experiences as a high school English teacher led to a career writing for young people. She is the best-selling author of the Newbery Medal winner "Walk Two Moons" (1994) and the Newbery Honor winner "The Wanderer" (2000). Her other works include the novels "Heartbeat" (2004), "Granny Torcelli Makes Soup" (2003), "Ruby Holler" (2002) and "Pleasing the Ghost" (1996), as well as the picture books "A Fine, Fine School" (2001) and "Fishing in the Air" (2000). Her most recent book is "The Unfinished Angel" (2009). She lives in New Jersey.

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo lived in the South for much of her childhood and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her debut children’s book, "Because of Winn Dixie" (2000), was a Newbery Honor Book and her second book, "The Tiger Rising" (2001), was a National Book Award finalist. DiCamillo’s "The Tale of Despereaux" (2003), is the winner of the 2004 Newbery Award. Her newest book is "The Magician’s Elephant" (2009). DiCamillo lives in Minneapolis.

Carmen Agra Deedy

Children’s book author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy was born in Havana, Cuba, emigrated to the United States with her family in 1963 during the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution and grew up in Decatur, Ga. She has written seven children’s books. "The Yellow Star" (2000) has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2001 Christopher Award and the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award. She also wrote and performed "Growing Up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia" (1995). which is available on compact disc. Her most recent book is "14 Cows" (2009), on which she collaborated with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. Deedy lives in Georgia.

Paula Deen

 

Food Network star Paula Deen started her career in food in 1989 as The Bag Lady, delivering, with her two sons, bag lunches to customers in Savannah, Ga. This business eventually became a catering service and led to the opening of The Lady & Sons restaurant. Deen is the author of many best-selling cookbooks of Southern food, and her latest is "The Deen Family Cookbook" (2009). "Paula’s Home Cooking" and "Paula’s Party" are seen regularly on the Food Network.

 

Junot Díaz

Junot Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and is the author of the short-story collection "Drown" and the novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2007), which won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times said the novel is "so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets ‘Star Trek’ meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West." Díaz ’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, "Best American Short Stories" (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), "Pushcart Prize XXII" and "The O’Henry Prize Stories 2009."

Tony DiTerlizzi

Tony DiTerlizzi was a successful fantasy artist before he fulfilled a childhood dream of writing and illustrating books for children. His spooky picture book "The Spider and the Fly" (2002) was a Caldecott Honor Medal winner and New York Times best-seller, and The Spiderwick Chronicles series, co-created with Holly Black, is based on an idea he had in the works for 20 years. DiTerlizzi’s latest project, "Kenny and the Dragon" (2008), marks DiTerlizzi’s debut as a chapter book writer. He is also the illustrator of "The Wyrm King" (2009), the final book in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles series co-created with Holly Black. DiTerlizzi lives in Massachusetts.

Kirstin Downey

Kirstin Downey became a staff writer for the Washington Post in 1988. In the mid-1990s, Downey began writing articles and columns on the American workplace, tracking employment statistics and emerging trends. She initiated a series of articles on the increasing incidence of sexual harassment incidents nationwide. In 2000 Downey was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University, where she studied American economic history at Harvard Business School and participated in the Harvard Trade Union Program, where young labor activists are trained to become leaders in the movement. The fellowship also gave Downey the opportunity to focus full-time on research for her new book, "The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience" (2009). In 2008 Downey shared in the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Washington Post staff for coverage of the campus slayings at Virginia Tech.

Dayton Duncan

Dayton Duncan is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker and the author of nine books. "Out West: A Journey Through Lewis & Clark’s America" (2001) chronicles his retracing of the Lewis and Clark trail; it was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection and finalist for the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award. "Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery" (1997) and "Mark Twain" (2001) are companion books to documentary films he wrote and produced with Ken Burns. Dayton was a consultant on Burns’ award-winning series for public television "The Civil War," "Baseball" and "Jazz." He is also Burns’ collaborator on "The National Parks: America’s Best Idea" book and the documentary of the same name. Duncan lives in New Hampshire.

 

W. Ralph Eubanks

W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of "Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past," which Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley named as one of the best nonfiction books of 2003. Eubanks has contributed articles to the Washington Post "Outlook" and "Style" sections, the Chicago Tribune, Preservation and National Public Radio. He is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and is also a fellow at the New America Foundation. His newest book is "The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South" (2009). Eubanks lives in Washington, D.C., and is the director of Publishing at the Library of Congress.

 

Julia Glass

Julia Glass is a fiction writer and freelance journalist who has written articles and essays for several mainstream magazines on a variety of topics. She was awarded the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction for "Three Junes," her first novel. A fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for 2004-2005, she is also the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in fiction writing (2000) and several prizes for her short stories, including three Nelson Algren Awards, the Tobias Wolff Award and the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Medal for Best Novella. Her newest book is "I See You Everywhere" (2008). Glass lives in Massachusetts.

Annette Gordon-Reed

Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of law at New York Law School since 1992 and winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family" (2008), is one of the country’s most distinguished presidential scholars. Her first book was the acclaimed "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy" (1997); it was described by The New Yorker as "brilliant." In "Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History" (2002), she edited 12 original essays that illustrate how race often determined the outcome of trials and how trials that confront issues of racism provide a unique lens on American cultural history. Gordon-Reed lives in New York.

Nikki Grimes

New York Times best-selling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2006 National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include the American Library Association Notable Book "What Is Goodbye?" and the novels "Jazmin’s Notebook" (2000), "Dark Sons" (2005) and "The Road to Paris" (2006), which is a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. Grimes is also the creator of the popular "Meet Danitra Brown" (1994). Her recent books are "Rich: A Dyamonde Daniel Book," "Voices of Christmas" and "Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel," all published in 2009. She lives in California.

John Grisham

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60 to 70 hours a week at a small Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby: writing his first novel, "A Time to Kill" (1989). It initially sold a modest 5,000 copies. His next book was the beginning of one of publishing’s greatest success stories. When Grisham sold the film rights to "The Firm," he suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. "The Firm" became the best-selling novel of 1991. Since first publishing "A Time to Kill" in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year and all of them have become international best-sellers, with more than 235 million John Grisham books in print worldwide. His latest smash hit is "The Associate" (2009). Grisham lives in Mississippi and Virginia.

Shannon Hale

New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age 10 and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in creative writing. After 19 years of writing and dozens of rejections, she published "The Goose Girl" (2003), the first book in her award-winning series, followed by "Enna Burning" (2004) and "River Secrets" (2006). She also has two standalone books for young readers: "Book of a Thousand Days" (2007), a CYBILS award winner, and "Princess Academy" (2005), a Newbery Honor Book. With "Austenland" (2007)and "The Actor and the Housewife" (2009), she crossed over into books for adults. Her other 2009 book is "Forest Born," for young adults. Hale lives in Utah.

Craig Hatkoff

Craig Hatkoff is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling picture book "Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" (2006), which became an international phenomenon. His other acclaimed picture books about real animals with real-world issues include "Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship" (2004), "Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World" (2007) and "Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own" (2008). His newest picture book, "Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again" (2009), is the inspiring true story of a rescued baby dolphin that learned to swim using a prosthetic tail. Winter’s story delivers an important message of hope, friendship and universal acceptance. Hatkoff is the founder of Turtle Pond Publications and co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. He lives in New York.

Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch was 8 years old when he learned to love poetry through reading a verse from Emily Brontë’s poem "Spellbound" among his grandfather’s books. Hirsch is the poetry editor of DoubleTake magazine, and his essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, American Poetry Review and The Paris Review. He writes a column on poetry for The Washington Post. His first collection of verse, "For the Sleepwalkers" (1981) received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University. His second collection, "Wild Gratitude," received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986. His book "How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry" was a best-seller in 1999.

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield is the author of six collections of poetry, including "After," which was chosen as one of the best books of 2006 by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and the London Financial Times. Hirshfield’s other honors include the Poetry Center Book Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and the (London) Times Literary Supplement. She has been featured many times on Garrison Keillor’s "Writers Almanac" radio program. In 2004 Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Elizabeth Bishop.

Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill says she always knew she wanted to be a journalist. The moderator and managing editor of Public Broadcasting’s "Washington Week" and senior correspondent for "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Ifill is the best-selling author of "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," (2009). She also moderated the vice presidential debates during the presidential elections in 2004 and 2008. Before coming to PBS, she was chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News, White House correspondent for The New York Times and a local and national political reporter for the Washington Post. She also reported for the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald American.

John Irving

 

John Irving is the best-selling author of "The World According to Garp" (1973), "The Hotel New Hampshire" (1981), "The Cider House Rules" (1985) and "A Prayer for Owen Meany" (1989), among other novels. Irving’s fourth novel, "The World According to Garp," became an international best-seller and later a film starring Robin Williams and Glenn Close. It was also a finalist for the American Book Award for hardcover fiction in 1979. Irving wrote the screenplay for the 1999 film adaptation of "The Cider House Rules" and won an Oscar for his work. His most recent novels include "The Fourth Hand" (2001), "Until I Find You" (2005) and "Last Night in Twisted River" (2009). He lives in New Hampshire and Ontario, Canada.

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson has received both critical and popular praise for his novels "The Cold Dish," "Death Without Company," "Kindness Goes Unpunished," "Another Man’s Moccasins" and "The Dark Horse." All five novels have been made selections by the Independent Booksellers Association. "The Cold Dish" was a DILYS Award finalist and was named one of the top 10 mysteries of the year by Lire magazine. "Death Without Company" was selected by Booklist as one of the top 10 mysteries of 2006 and won the Wyoming Historical Society’s fiction book of the year award. The story "Old Indian Trick" won the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Award and appeared in Cowboys & Indians Magazine. "Kindness Goes Unpunished," the third in the Walt Longmire series, was No. 38 on the American Booksellers Association’s hardcover best-seller list. "Another Man’s Moccasins" (2008) was the recipient of the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award as Novel of the Year and the Mountains and Plains Book of the Year. "The Dark Horse" (2009), the fifth in the series, has garnered starred reviews by all four pre-publication review services. Johnson lives in Wyoming.

Haynes Johnson

Haynes Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a best-selling author and a television commentator. He has reported on every president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. In 1966 Johnson won the Pulitzer Price for distinguished national reporting of the civil rights struggle in Selma, Ala. Haynes Johnson is the author of national best-sellers such as "Sleepwalking Through History" (1991), "The Bay of Pigs" (1964) and "The Landing" (1986), his first novel. Johnson’s latest work is "The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election" (2009), which he wrote with Dan Balz.

Steven Kellogg

Steven Kellogg has loved picture books ever since he was a child; the illustrations of Beatrix Potter and N.C. Wyeth were his early favorites. He grew up in Connecticut, drawing constantly and telling stories to his younger sisters. He has written or illustrated, or both, nearly 90 books for children and young people. The most recent book he has illustrated is "The Pied Piper’s Magic" (2009).

Liz Kessler

A former creative writing teacher and journalist, Liz Kessler hails from England. Her popular Emily Windsnap series for middle-grade readers features the deep-sea adventures of Emily, half girl, half mermaid. Emily’s unusual transformation from water to land takes her on many exciting journeys. Kessler’s newest release is Philippa Fisher and the Dreammaker’s Daughter, which is the second book in a new fantasy series (2009). Kessler lives in Manchester.

Sue Monk Kidd

 

Sue Monk Kidd experienced the desire to write at an early age, even writing a novel when she was 13. She is the author of the widely acclaimed nonfiction books "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" (1996) and "When the Heart Waits" (1990). Her first published novel, the best-seller "The Secret Life of Bees" (2002), has sold more than 5 million copies, spent more than two years on the New York Times best-seller list and was made into a motion picture. Her most recent novel is the best-seller "The Mermaid Chair" (2005). She has recently collaborated with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, on "Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story" (2009), a memoir. Kidd lives in South Carolina.

Jeff Kinney

From the early 1990s, when he attended the University of Maryland, Jeff Kinney knew he wanted to be a cartoonist. The campus paper ran his comic strip, called "Igdoof." In 1998, he began to formulate ideas for "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." He published daily installment of the Diary online before releasing it as a book, which became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. He followed that success with two other Diary books. The newest in the series is "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw" (2009). Jeff lives in Massachusetts.

Mark Kurlansky

Mark Kurlansky has worked as a playwright, commercial fisherman, dock worker, cook, pastry chef and paralegal -- all of which have influenced his writing. From 1976 to 1991 he worked as a foreign correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer. Based in Paris and then Mexico, he reported on Europe, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean. His books "Cod" (1997), "Salt" (2007), and "1968" (2003) were all New York Times best-sellers. His latest book, "The Food of a Younger Land" (2009), is based on writings from the Depression-era Federal Writers’ Project, when food was seasonal, regional and traditional.

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry describes herself as "a solitary child who lived in the world of books and my own vivid imagination." A two-time recipient of the Newbery Medal for her novels "Number the Stars" (1990) and "The Giver" (1994), Lowry conveys through her writing her passionate awareness of caring for one another in a very complex world. In her first picture book, "Crow Call" (2009), Lowry pairs with acclaimed artist Bagram Ibatoulline to deliver a timeless story about the power of a very special relationship. Set in post-World War II America and based upon events in Lowry’s own childhood, "Crow Call" is a tender glimpse at 9-year-old Liz as she begins the journey of becoming reacquainted with her long-absent father after his return from the war. Lowry lives in Massachusetts.

Valerie Martínez

Named the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe in March 2008, Valerie Martínez’s first book of poetry, "Absence, Luminescent (1999), won the Larry Levis Prize and a Greenwall Grant from the Academy of American Poets. Her second collection, World to World, was published in 2004. Her forthcoming books include Each and Her, a book-length poem (2010), and And They Called It Horizon, her third poetry collection (2010). Martinez’s poetry, translations and essays have appeared in many literary publications including Parnassus, The Colorado Review, Puerto del Sol, The Bloomsbury Review and AGNI. Her poems have been published in various anthologies of contemporary poetry, including The Best American Poetry (1996). She is an associate professor of English and creative writing at the College of Santa Fe. She lives in New Mexico.

Megan McDonald

Megan McDonald is the author of the critically acclaimed Judy Moody series that has won numerous awards, including Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year and the International Reading Association Children’s Choice Award. Pretending to be a pencil sharpener was her first experience as a writer, and she wrote the story for her school newspaper when she was 10. Her newest book is "The Rule of Three" (2009), which is a Sisters Club story about the Acton family’s three sisters, all of which are actors. McDonald lives in California.

Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham’s latest book, "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House," won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for biography. Meacham is also the editor of Newsweek, where he began as a writer in 1995. His "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation" was published in 2006 and became New York Times and Washington Post best-sellers. He has written for The New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times Book Review and the Washington Post Book World. In 2001, he edited "Voices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement," a collection of distinguished nonfiction about the midcentury struggle against Jim Crow. He lives in New York.

Ana Menendez

Ana Menendez, the daughter of Cuban exiles, was born in Los Angeles. She is the author of the novel "Loving Che" (2003) and the short story collection "In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd," which was a 2001 New York Times Notable Book of the year; its title story won a Pushcart Prize. Her second novel is "The Last War" (2009). Since 1991 Menendez has worked as a journalist in the United States and abroad, including the last three years as a prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald. As a reporter, she has written about Cuba, Kashmir, Afghanistan and India, where she was based for three years. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Republic, The New York Times and Gourmet magazine.

Rickey Minor

Rickey Minor is the Emmy-nominated music director of television’s No. 1-rated show, "American Idol." His résumé also includes the Grammys and the Super Bowl, and he has collaborated with major recording artists Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Ray Charles, Beyoncé Knowles and many more. The ultimate "American Idol" insider reveals what it takes to achieve your dreams, recalling his journey from South Central Los Angeles to center stage in "There’s No Traffic on the Extra Mile," Minor’s 2008 memoir. He lives in California.

 
 

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is the author of the critically acclaimed Easy Rawlins mystery series—"Devil in a Blue Dress" (1990), "A Red Death" (1991), "White Butterfly" (1992), "Black Betty" (1994), and "A Little Yellow Dog" (1996). Mosley’s other books include the novels "Blue Light" (1998) and "RL’s Dream" (1995), which won the 1996 Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Literary Award. He has also written two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow: "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned" (1995) and "Walkin’ the Dog" (1994). Mosley’s latest book is "The Long Fall: The First Leonid McGill Mystery" (2009). McGill is a New York City private investigator. Mosley lives in New York.

Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national best-seller "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" (2003), a vivid portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. Nafisi is the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics. Her new book, "Things I Have Been Silent About: Memories," a memoir about her mother, was published in January 2009. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah

Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah has collaborated on "14 Cows" with Carmen Agra Deedy. Naiyomah has been awarded a Rotary International World Peace Fellowship and will begin studies in peace and conflict resolution in 2010. His story as a Maasai warrior is at the center of Deedy’s book.

Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson has illustrated many celebrated picture books for children, including two Caldecott Honor titles, "Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad" (2007) and "Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom" (2006). His own book, "We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball" (2008), won numerous honors, including the 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Award. "Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit" (2009) features Nelson’s illustrations and the words of President Barack Obama. Nelson is the illustrator of "Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson" (2009), written by Sharon Robinson. He lives in California.

 

Katherine Neville

Katherine Neville’s 20-year career as an international computer executive and consultant, principally in the fields of finance and energy, took her to live and work in six countries on three continents and half of the states in America. She has worked as a commercial photographer, portrait painter, busboy, waiter and model, and she draws from all these work experiences to enrich her novels. Neville’s books "The Eight" (1989), "A Calculated Risk" (1992) and "The Magic Circle" (1998) are best-sellers in more than 30 languages. "The Fire" (2008) is Neville’s long-awaited sequel to "The Eight." She lives in Virginia, Santa Fe, N.M., and Washington, D.C.

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