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Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Sympathizer

January 31st, 2017

Viet Thanh Nguyen is an associate professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He will speak about his debut  novel The Sympathizer, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal for  Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, a California Book Award, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. The novel made it to over thirty book-of-the-year lists, including The Guardian, The New York Times,  The Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, Slate.com, and The Washington Post.


Kevin Naughton & Craig Peterson

December 6th, 2016

If you have ever wondered what hardcore surf travel is all about, Search for the Perfect Wave is your ticket, and surf travel pioneers Kevin Naughton and Craig Peterson are the perfect tour guides.  Kevin and Craig spent over ten years looking for the perfect wave from the early 70s to early 80s. Two surfers from the same town, this photographer and writer duo set out to find the mythical ‘perfect wave’ and became lifelong best friends in the process. After ten-plus years of hardcore surf-travel-adventure there’s a lot to show and tell.  These authors will present a slide show and colorful accounts of their fantastic adventures delivered with their trademark humor and the awe that they both possess, after all these years, of having the good fortune to be following their dreams of a life filled with surf adventures.


Sebastian Smee

October 13th, 2016

Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic Sebastian Smee tells the fascinating story of four pairs of artists—Manet and Degas, Picasso and Matisse, Pollock and de Kooning, Freud and Bacon—whose fraught, competitive friendships spurred them to new creative heights.

Smee is the art critic of the Boston Globe. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2011 and a finalist in 2009. His writing about art has appeared in many of the leading papers in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States. He has given lectures about art at many major universities and institutions, including Harvard, Yale, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Les Standiford: Water to the Angels

April 2nd, 2016

The author of Last Train to Paradise tells the story of the largest public water project ever created—William Mulholland’s Los Angeles aqueduct—a story of Gilded Age ambition, hubris, greed, and one determined man who's vision shaped the future and continues to impact us today.

With energy and colorful detail, Water to the Angels brings to life the personalities, politics, and power—including bribery, deception, force, and bicoastal financial warfare—behind this dramatic event. At a time when the importance of water is being recognized as never before—considered by many experts to be the essential resource of the twenty-first century—Water to the Angels brings into focus the vigor of a fabled era, the might of a larger than life individual, and the scale of a priceless construction project, and sheds critical light on a past that offers insights for our future.


Jeffery Deaver: The Steel Kiss

March 25th, 2016

The Lincoln Rhyme series continues with The Steel Kiss to be released on March 8 in the U.S. A former journalist, folksinger and attorney, Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the New York Times, the Times of London, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and have been translated into over twenty-five languages.

The author of over thirty novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, Deaver has received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world. His The Bodies Left Behind was named Novel of the Year by the International Thriller Writers Association.


Jessica Fellowes: A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey

January 27th, 2016

Jessica Fellowes is an author and journalist, best known as the writer of the official companion books to Downton Abbey. Niece of Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, Jessica will share her insights into the history of the period and the production of the enormously popular series, from the painstakingly historic accuracy of costumes and customs to the breathtaking location at Highclere Castle.


Maz Jobrani: I’m Not a Terrorist, but I’ve Played One on TV

October 21st, 2015

Maz Jobrani is a founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. He performs stand-up comedy around the world, including in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East where he performed in front of the King of Jordan. He recently released his third comedy special, “I Come in Peace,” which aired on Showtime and Netflix. Jobrani starred in the films Friday After Next, 13 Going on 30, and The Interpreter. He was a series regular on ABC’s Better Off Ted, which had a cult following, and he has guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm24True Blood, and Shameless to name a few. Jobrani is currently a regular panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! He has also given two TED talks, which can be viewed at TED.com. He has performed his stand-up on The Tonight ShowComedy Central, and Showtime, and is starring in the upcoming indie comedy feature, Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero, which he co-wrote and produced.


Marie Mutsuki Mockett: Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye

October 21st, 2015

Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather’s bones. As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.

Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colorful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt, and finally uplift her. Her journey leads her into the radiation zone in an intricate white hazmat suit; to Eiheiji, a school for Zen Buddhist monks; on a visit to a Crab Lady and Fuzzy-Headed Priest’s temple on Mount Doom; and into the “thick dark” of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns. From the ecstasy of a cherry blossom festival in the radiation zone to the ghosts inhabiting chopsticks, Mockett writes of both the earthly and the sublime with extraordinary sensitivity. Her unpretentious and engaging voice makes her the kind of companion a reader wants to stay with wherever she goes, even into the heart of grief itself.


Anne Perry: The Angel Court Affair

June 12th, 2015

Anne Perry is the international bestselling author of over fifty novels, which have sold over 25 million copies. The Times selected her as one of the 20th Century’s "100 Masters of Crime.” In 2015 she was awarded the Premio de Honor Aragón Negro.

Her first series of Victorian crime novels, featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, began with The Cater Street Hangman. The latest of these, The Angel Court Affair, has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Perry’s Thomas Pitt character features in one of the longest sustained series by a living writer with 29 titles to date.

In 1990, Anne started a second series of detective novels with The Face of a Stranger. These are set about 35 years before the Pitt series, and feature the private detective William Monk and volatile nurse Hester Latterly. The most recent of these (21st in the series) is Corridors of the Night (April 2015).

Anne won an Edgar award in 2000 with her short story "Heroes.” The main character in the story features in an ambitious five-book series set during the First World War. Her other stand-alone novels include her French Revolution novel The One Thing More, and Sheen on the Silk, which is set in the dangerous and exotic city of Byzantium.


JenniferGranholm: The American Jobs Project: Creating Middle Class Jobs in America in a Global Economy

June 12th, 2015

Governor Jennifer Granholm led Michigan during the toughest economic times since the Great Depression – through auto bailouts and a global shift of manufacturing jobs. Through experience and stories, hear her perspective on how the nation can grow middle class jobs when technology and globalization make it easy for jobs to move elsewhere.