Michael Dirda, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book columnist for the Washington Post, is the author of the memoir An Open Book (2003) and of five collections of essays: Readings (2000), Bound to Please (2005), Book by Book (2005), Classics for Pleasure (2007), and Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books (2015). His On Conan Doyle (2011) received a 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Dirda graduated with Highest Honors in English from Oberlin College and earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (focusing on medieval studies and European romanticism) from Cornell University. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, a columnist for the online Barnes and Noble Review, and a frequent reviewer for several other literary periodicals, as well as an occasional lecturer and college teacher. His current project is a celebration of popular fiction during the late 19th and early 20th century, tentatively titled “The Great Age of Storytelling.” Dirda will participate in a Master Class/Conversation with Annie Proulx at 11 a.m on October 21.
Francisco Goldman is the author of four novels and two books of non-fiction. His books have been translated into 16 languages. His first novel, The Long Night of White Chickens (1993) won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction; his second novel, The Ordinary Seaman (1997) was a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the International AIMPAC Dublin Literary Award ; his non-fiction The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop (2014) won the Index on Censorship T. R. Fyvel Book Award, the WOLA/Duke Human Rights Book Award and was shortlisted for the Ryszard Kapuscinski International Award for Literary Reportage; and the French translation of his novel Say Her Name (2011) won the Prix Femina Etranger. He is also the author of The Divine Husband: A Novel (2004), a finalist for The Believer Book Award and The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle (2013) for which he was awarded the 2017 Blue Metropolis Premio Azul. He has also received the 2017 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, and was also elected this year to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998 and has been a fellow at the Cullman Center of the New York Public Library, and a Berlin Fellow. His journalism and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harpers, and many other publications. He teaches one semester a year at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, where he is the Allan Smith Professor of Creative Writing and Literature, and spends the rest of the year in Mexico City, were he directs the Premio Aura Estrada. Goldman will participate in the October 20 event at the Writer’s Center and, on October 21, will meet with Annie Proulx and the Fitzgerald Scholars at 3 p.m. (this session is closed to the public) and will introduce Annie Proulx at 5 p.m.
Alexandra Petri, the 2014 O. Henry International Pun Champion, writes the ComPost blog for the Post, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. A native Washingtonian whose father was a congressman, she attended National Cathedral School and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, Petri says that, in her youth, she spent hours reading (“a lot of Thurber”) and writing. At age eight, she penned a Shakespeare comic book with cat characters: “Romeow and Mewliet—and the Catpulets.” At age 11, she attempted a play: Helen of Troy’s No Good, Very Bad Day. Dave Barry calls her “the funniest person in Washington. This is all the more impressive when you consider that Congress is also located there.” Petri will meet with the Fitzgerald Scholars at 9 a.m. on October 21 (this session is closed to the public).