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National Book Festival 2009 page Two of Two --go to page one


Tim O’Brien

Tim O’Brien has been hailed as "the best American writer of his generation" by The San Francisco Examiner. The author of eight books, O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction in 1979 for his novel "Going After Cacciato." In 2005 "The Things They Carried" was named by The New York Times as one of the 20 best books of the last quarter century. It received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The French edition of "The Things They Carried" received the prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, and the title story was selected by John Updike for inclusion in "The Best American Short Stories of the Century." "In the Lake of the Woods," published in 1994, was chosen by Time magazine as the best novel of that year. The book also received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was selected as one of the 10 best books of the year by The New York Times. O’Brien’s other works include "If I Die in a Combat Zone," "Northern Lights," "Tomcat in Love" and "July, July." His short fiction, which has received the National Magazine Award, has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Atlantic, Esquire, Playboy, and Harper’s.

James Patterson

James Patterson holds the New York Times best-seller list record, with 46 titles overall. He has sold more than 170 million books worldwide and is the only author to occupy the No. 1 slot on the New York Times Adult Fiction and Children’s Chapter Book best-seller lists at the same time. "Maximum Ride," Patterson’s first young adult novel, spent 12 straight weeks at No. 1 on the New York Times Chapter Book best-seller list and, as a series, has now spent more than 90 weeks on New York Times best-seller lists. His latest adult novel is "Swimsuit" (2009), and "Daniel X: Watch the Skies" (2009) is his latest for young adults. His website, Read, Kiddo, Read, is "dedicated to making kids readers for life."

George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos, the author of 15 crime novels set in and around Washington, D.C., spent years developing his writing talent and gathering his material from his life experiences in the national capital area. He was employed as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender and women’s shoe salesman before publishing his first novel. His novels have won several awards, including International Crime Novel of the Year for "The Big Blowdown" (1996) and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for "Hell to Pay" in 2003 and again in 2004 for "Soul Circus." His most recent novel is "The Way Home" (2009). He works regularly as a screenwriter and independent-film producer and was a writer and producer for the acclaimed HBO television series "The Wire." He lives in Maryland.

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney, who took an interest in drawing at a very early age, has illustrated more than 100 books for children since 1964. The recipient of multiple Caldecott Honor Medals and Coretta Scott King Awards and Honors, he has taught illustration and conducted workshops at universities across the country, created art for the U.S. Postal Services’ Black Heritage stamps and had more than 20 one-man retrospective shows at major U.S. venues. He also created the artwork for the 2005 National Book Festival poster. His most recent book for children is "The Lion and the Mouse" (2009), a wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables. Pinkney lives in New York.


Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult studied creative writing in college and had two short stories published in Seventeen magazine while still a student. Realism -- and a profound desire to be able to pay the rent -- led Picoult to a series of different jobs following her graduation: as a technical writer for a Wall Street brokerage firm, as a copywriter at an ad agency, as an editor at a textbook publisher, and as an eighth-grade English teacher before pursuing a master’s in education. She wrote her first novel, "Songs of the Humpback Whale," in 1992, while she was pregnant with her first child. She is now the author of 15 best-sellers, including her latest, "Handle with Care" (2009). Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan is the author of the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for children and the multiaward-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults. For 15 years, Riordan taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award. His adult fiction has won the top three national awards in the mystery genre -- the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. His short fiction has appeared in Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Riordan lives in Texas.

Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels "Gilead" (2004) -- winner of the Pulitzer Prize --and "Housekeeping" (1980) and two books of nonfiction, "Mother Country" and "The Death of Adam." She has written articles and book reviews for Harper’s, The Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review. He latest novel is "Home" (2008), a National Book Award finalist. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Iowa.

Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson, daughter of legendary baseball hero Jackie Robinson, is the author of several books for young readers, including "Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America" (2004) and her newest book, "Safe at Home" (2006), a novel. As an educational consultant for Major League Baseball, she oversees school and community-based education programs such as In Sport, In Life, a national character education program designed to help students face obstacles in their lives. Her newest book is "Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson" (2009), a picture book with illustrator Kadir Nelson. Robinson lives in Florida.


S.J. Rozan

S.J. Rozan is the author of 11 novels, including "The Shanghai Moon" (2009), her latest. Her work has won the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero and Macavity awards, and she has served on the national boards of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. In January 2003 she was an invited speaker at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This former president of the Private Eye Writers of America has also worked as an architect in a practice that focused on police stations, firehouses and zoos. Rozan lives in New York.

Kay Ryan

Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Kay Ryan is in her second year in the position, which is chosen annually by the Librarian of Congress. Ryan’s latest book, published in 2008, is an illustrated collection of poems titled "The Jam Jar Lifeboat." It contains whimsical color illustrations by Carl Dern. Her other publications include "The Niagara River" (2005), "Say Uncle" (2000), "Elephant Rocks" (1996), "Flamingo Watching" (1994), "Strangely Marked Metal" (1985) and "Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends" (1983). She is also the author of numerous essays. Ryan describes poetry as an intensely personal experience for both the writer and the reader. Her many awards include the 2005 Gold Medal for Poetry from the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation in 2004, a Guggenheim fellowship the same year and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship as well as the Maurice English Poetry Award in 2001. She lives in California.

Charles Santore

Charles Santore is the latest in a line of distinguished illustrators who have created the poster art for the National Book Festival. In addition to the 2009 poster, Santore has also illustrated such classics as "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (2000) and "Aesop’s Fables" (1997). Santore also writes and illustrates his own books. His latest work is "The Little Mermaid: From the Story by Hans Christian Andersen" (2009) and "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" (2009), an illustration of an L. Frank Baum tale. Santore lives in Pennsylvania.

Simon Schama

Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. He taught history at Cambridge and Oxford universities and art history and history at Harvard before coming to Columbia. His books have been translated into 15 languages and include "Patriots and Liberators: Revolution and Government in the Netherlands 1780-1813" (1977), "The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age" (1987), "Rembrandt’s Eyes" (1999) and "The Power of Art" (2007), which was also an eight-part series on PBS. His books have won the Wolfson Award for History, the W.H. Smith Prize for Literature; the National Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Nonfiction. His new book is "The American Future: A History" (2009), which is also the title of his four-part BBC documentary.

Jon Scieszka

Jon Scieszka is the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (, a program sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. He is the author of some of the best known and funniest books written for children, including "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" (1989), the Time Warp Trio chapter book series, the Caldecott Honor Book "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales" (1992) and the Trucktown series. Among several books that Scieszka will soon publish is "Robot Zot!" (2009), illustrated by David Shannon. Scieszka is the founder of Guys Read (, a nonprofit literacy organization. He lives in New York.

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline’s books draw on her experience as a trial lawyer as well as her judicial clerkships in the state and federal justice systems. She wrote her first novel, "Everywhere That Mary Went" (1994), while serving as an administrative law clerk. She has now written 16 best-selling legal-suspense novels, with more than 25 million copies in print. She is a recipient of the Edgar Award for her second novel, "Final Appeal" (1995), and her most recent novel is "Look Again" (2009). Currently serving as a board member of the Mystery Writers of America, Scottoline is a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she teaches Justice and Fiction, a course she created. She lives in Pennsylvania.

David Shannon

David Shannon began his career as an illustrator for The New York Times’s op-ed section and Book Review. An editor noticed his work and asked him to illustrate Julius Lester’s "How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have? And Other Tales" (1989), a collection of Lester’s adaptations of traditional African and Jewish folk tales. In 1998, he won the Caldecott Honor for "No, David!," which he wrote as well as illustrated. Shannon is also the illustrator of Jon Scieszka’s "Robot Zot!" (2009). He lives in California.

Daniel Silva

Dan Silva burst onto the scene in 1997 with his electrifying best-selling debut, "The Unlikely Spy," a novel of love and deception set during the Allied invasion of France in World War II. His second and third novels, "The Mark of the Assassin" (1998) and "The Marching Season" (1999), were also instant New York Times best-sellers and starred two of Silva’s most memorable characters: CIA officer Michael Osbourne and international hit man Jean-Paul Delaroche. But it was Silva’s fourth novel, "The Kill Artist," (2000) that would alter the course of his career. The novel featured a character described as one of the most memorable and compelling in contemporary fiction, the art restorer and sometime Israeli secret agent Gabriel Allon. Although Silva did not realize it at the time, Gabriel’s adventures had only just begun. Gabriel Allon appears in Silva’s next nine novels. "The Defector" (2009) is the latest Gabriel Allon adventure and sequel to "Moscow Rules" (2008). Silva lives in Washington, D.C.

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith’s fifth book of poetry, "Blood Dazzler," chronicles the human, physical and emotional toll exacted by Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophic natural event with lasting spiritual and political impact. It was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. This volume is also the focal point of a new dance-theater collaboration between Smith and Urban Bush Women dancer Paloma McGregor. Smith is also the author of "Teahouse of the Almighty" (2006), a National Poetry Series winner, the Best Poetry Book of 2006 on and a 2007 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and Paterson Poetry Prize winner; "Close to Death" (1998), "Big Towns, Big Talk" (2002) and "Life According to Motown" (1991). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, poemmemoirstory, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, TriQuarterly and other journals, and in many anthologies, most recently "Gathering Ground," "The Spoken Word Revolution," "The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry" and "Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry." Her poem "The Way Pilots Walk" received a Pushcart Prize, and is featured in "Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses."

Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is the author of such hugely successful best-sellers as "The Notebook" (1996), "Message in a Bottle" (1998) and "Nights in Rodanthe" (2002), all of which have been turned into popular films. Sparks contributes to a variety of local and national charities and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships and a fellowship annually. His most recent books are "The Lucky One" (2008), a New York Times best-seller, and his newest, "The Last Song" (2009). Sparks lives in North Carolina.

Patricia Sullivan

Patricia Sullivan is associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of South Carolina and a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. She is the author of "Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era," co-editor of "Civil Rights in the United States" (2000) and the author of "Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years." Her most recent book is "Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement" (2009).

James L. Swanson

James L. Swanson says he has a lifelong fascination with Abraham Lincoln. His new book, "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killers," is a New York Times best-seller. Swanson has written for the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He serves on the advisory board of the Ford’s Theatre Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign and also on the advisory committee of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Manhunt is currently being made into a film. Swanson lives in Washington, D.C.

Ann Kidd Taylor


Ann Kidd Taylor has co-written with her mother, Sue Monk Kidd, a "a spiritual memoir" called "Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story" (2009). They have written about a series of pilgrimages the two made together through Greece, France, Turkey and Switzerland beginning the summer that Ann graduated from college in 1998 and her mother turned 50.

David A. Taylor

David A. Taylor has written for award-winning documentaries and for publications such as Smithsonian, the Washington Post, the Village Voice, Outside and the Christian Science Monitor. He is also the author of "Ginseng" (2006), a work about the ancient herb, and "Success Stories" (2008), a collection of nonfiction stories. He has most recently written "Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America" (2009) and wrote and co-produced the documentary of the same name. He lives in Virginia.


Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls has been a reporter for New York magazine, Esquire, USA Today and, where she currently works. Her memoir, "The Glass Castle" (2006), was a New York Times best-seller and is being turned into a movie by Paramount. It reveals Walls’ painful, deprived childhood and a life she once viewed as a shameful secret. Walls is also the author of "Dish: The Inside Story of the World of Gossip" (2000), Her newest work is "Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel," the story of her grandmother, will be published this October. Walls lives in Virginia.

Colson Whitehead

After Colson Whitehead graduated from college, he started working at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books and music. His first novel, "The Intuitionist" (1999), concerned intrigue in the Department of Elevator Inspectors and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and a winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award. "John Henry Days" followed in 2001, an investigation of the steel-driving man of American folklore. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. "Apex Hides the Hurt" (2006) is a novel about a "nomenclature consultant" who gets an assignment to name a town, and was a recipient of the PEN/Oakland Award. "Sag Harbor," published in 2009, is a novel about teenagers hanging out in Sag Harbor, Long Island, during the summer of 1985. He calls it his "autobiographical fourth novel."

Mo Willems

Mo Willems spent much of his youth telling stories and drawing. After high school, he performed standup comedy in London. He later moved to New York, where he studied film and then switched to animation. For nine years, he worked on "Sesame Street," where he won six Emmy Awards and developed characters such as Suzy Kabloozie. Willems later created "Sheep in the Big City" for the Cartoon Network and "The Off-Beats" for Nickelodeon. His first book, "Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" (2003), won a Caldecott Honor in 2004. The following year, "Knuffle Bunny" (2004) won another Caldecott Honor. He lives in New York.

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson says that writing is what makes her happiest. From the time she was a child, she says, "I wrote on everything and everywhere." Her books have won the Newbery, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King awards, among others. Her latest book is "Peace, Locomotion" (2009), about two foster children who are forced to live in separate families after the death of their parents. Woodson lives in New York.

David Wroblewski


David Wroblewski grew up in rural central Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest, where "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" (2008) is set. In high school, Wroblewski won a statewide arts competition with a story about a pack of wolves. At the University of Wisconsin, he became fascinated with the art of making software and earned a degree in computer science. "Edgar Sawtelle," a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is Wroblewski’s first book, was chosen for Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club and is a New York Times best-seller. Wroblewski lives in Colorado.


National Book Festival 2009 page Two of Two --go to page one