Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and recently named New York State Author. The Washington Post called his Homeland Elegies “a tour de force” and the New York Times selected it as a Top 10 Book of 2020. Ayad is adapting the novel into a limited series at FX, with director Oren Moverman and starring Kumail Nanjiani. His first novel, American Dervish, was published in over 20 languages. His plays include Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, and others). Ayad is a board trustee at New York Theatre Workshop and PEN America, where he serves as president. Visit his website.
Hudson Valley author Nancy Castaldo has written award-winning books about our planet for over 20 years, including The Story of Seeds, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia. She strives to inform, inspire and empower her readers. Nancy is a certified National Geographic Educator. Her upcoming 2022 releases include When the World Runs Dry (Algonquin Young Readers) and The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale: Restoring an Ecosystem (Scientists in the Field series). Visit her website at nancycastaldo.com or follow her on Twitter.
Michael Kupperman is a Brooklyn-based artist and writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Fortune, the New York Times, Nickelodeon Magazine, Forbes, Fast Company, Esquire, Heavy Metal and McSweeney’s. He has published comic books for DC, Marvel, and others, five of his own books, and animated for Saturday Night Live, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central. His most recent book is All the Answers, a graphic memoir published in 2018 by Simon & Shuster. Visit Michael’s website.
Clare Mulley is an author and broadcaster. Her first book, The Woman Who Saved the Children, won the Daily Mail Biographers’ Club Prize. The Spy Who Loved led to Clare being decorated with Poland’s national cultural honor, the Bene Merito. Her latest, The Women Who Flew for Hitler, tells the extraordinary story of two women at the heart of Nazi Germany, whose choices and actions put them on opposite sides of history. Clare reviews non-fiction for the Spectator, and is chair of the judges for the British Historical Writers Association non-fiction prize 2021. Visit Clare’s website.
Dexter Palmer is the author of three novels: The Dream of Perpetual Motion (2010); Version Control (2016); and Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen (2019), which was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. Dexter’s day job requires a different writing skill set. He has worked for the College Board for more than 13 years, penning questions for the SAT exam, as well as GRE and AP tests. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, where he received a doctorate in English from Princeton University. Visit Dexter’s website.
Sonia Purnell is an author, journalist and broadcaster. Her first book, Just Boris, was longlisted for the Orwell Prize; her second, First Lady, was shortlisted for the Plutarch Prize. Her third book, A Woman of No Importance, was a New York Times bestseller and won the Plutarch Prize for Biography. Sonia writes for several newspapers and is a regular broadcaster in Britain and abroad. She lives in London. Visit Sonia’s website.
Rishi Reddi is the author of Karma and Other Stories and Passage West, her debut novel. Passage West is an L.A. Times “Best California Book of 2020” and was a finalist for the New England Independent Booksellers Association’s New England Book Award in fiction. Her earlier story collection won the 2008 PEN New England / L.L. Winship prize for fiction. Stories from that collection were published in Best American Short Stories, broadcast on National Public Radio, and performed at New York City’s Symphony Space. A native of India, Rishi now lives in Cambridge, MA, where she has served on the board of Grub Street, Boston’s creative writing center. She also has worked as an environmental lawyer for state and federal government for more than 25 years. Visit her website.
Rick Rodgers was named Outstanding Culinary Teacher from Bon Appétit Magazine’s Food and Entertaining Awards and has taught hundreds of classes from Seattle to Miami. As a cookbook writer, co-author or editor of over 75 books, he has made a specialty of baked goods from around the world, culminating in his celebration of coffee culture, Kaffeehaus. He has written a dozen books for Williams-Sonoma alone. Rick is now the head baker at coffeeandcake.org, his online baking school.
Russell Shorto is the author, most recently, of Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob, and of six earlier books, including Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City and the national bestseller The Island at the Center of the World. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. In 2009 he was awarded a knighthood from the Dutch government for his work in increasing historical understanding between the Netherlands and the U.S. In 2018 he was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland. Visit Russell’s website.
Peter Sís, recipient of a 2012 Hans Christian Andersen medal for illustration and a 2003 MacArthur Fellowship, was born in Brno, Czech Republic. Today he lives and works as an artist, author and filmmaker in the New York City area. He has created award-winning animated shorts and films, tapestries, stage designs and murals. He has written and illustrated a number of books for adults and children, including three Caldecott Honor books: Starry Messenger – Galileo Galilei, Tibet Through the Red Box, The Wall – Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, and The Tree of Life – Charles Darwin. His art, including three-dimensional works, has been exhibited around the world. Visit Peter’s Instagram page.