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Keegan-Michael Key & Elle Key

In their new book, The History of Sketch Comedy, Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele, MAD TV, The Prom) and Elle Key build on the popularity of their 2022 Webby Award-winning podcast to delve deeper into the world of sketch comedy. The book highlights the essential building blocks of sketch comedy while interweaving Keegan’s personal career journey and the influence of his comedy heroes. Part memoir and part masterclass, it features conversations with influential performers and writers like Mel Brooks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Jordan Peele, and many more.

Jesse Thorn is host and creator of Bullseye (NPR), where he interviews performing artists and other creatives. As the owner of, Thorn oversees more than two dozen podcasts, along with video and other content. He’s also the producer of Put This On, a webseries and blog about men’s style.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of the Keys’ new book The History of Sketch Comedy.*(SOLD OUT)

*Books will be distributed at the Sydney Goldstein Theater, on the night of the event.

Photo Credit: Sally Montana

New Date: Leslie Jones

DATE CHANGE: This event has been rescheduled from September 27. If you purchased tickets for the original date, they are still valid.

“When Jones kills at clubs — and she can lay waste to an audience in a way that few others today can match — it can seem like a force of nature, the work of raw charisma and a tornado of energy.”—The New York Times 

Leslie Jones is a three-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee as well as a Writer’s Guild Award and NAACP Award nominee for her work on Saturday Night Live. She has also been honored as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. Jones recently wrapped production on season two of the MAX series Our Flag Means Death. The week of January 17th 2023 Jones kicked off a new era of The Daily Show as the program’s first guest host. In 2021 she starred opposite Eddie Murphy in Coming 2 America  for which she won an MTV Movie Award and was nominated for a People’s Choice Award.  Jones will next produce an untitled Christmas comedy for Lionsgate which she is currently developing as a potential future starring role. Additionally Jones co-hosts the podcast THE FCKRY with comedian Lenny Marcus. Each week Jones and Marcus interview guests and answer listener questions while exposing “the f*ckry” of any given topic.

Jasmine Guillory’s novels include The Wedding Date, the Reese’s Book Club selection The Proposal and By The Book. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, and Time, and she is a frequent book contributor on The Today Show. She lives in Oakland, California.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of Jones’ memoir Leslie F*cking Jones. (SOLD OUT)

Photo Credit: Jen Vesp

George Saunders

This is for IN-PERSON TICKETS to the evening with George Saunders. If you would like to join us virtually for this event, please visit us here.

George Saunders is renowned for his distinctive blend of compassion, satire, and endlessly inventive storytelling. He is author of the novel Lincoln in the Bardo and the short story collections Tenth of December, In Persuasion Nation, Pastoralia, and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. In his newest collection, Liberation Day, Saunders explores the complexities of human connection. His distinctive narrative style has earned him numerous accolades, including the Man Booker Prize for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo.

Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree and The Man Who Could Move Clouds, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Cut, and Zyzzyva.

Tickets include a paperback copy of Saunders’ short story collection, Liberation Day.

Photo Credit: Zach Krahmer

Dr. Bettina Love & W. Kamau Bell

“I am an eighties baby who grew to hate school. I never fully understood why. Until now. Until Bettina Love unapologetically and painstakingly chronicled the last forty years of education ‘reform’ in this landmark book. I hated school because it warred on me. I hated school because I loved to dream.” Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestselling author of How to be an Antiracist

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the William F. Russell Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her writing, research, teaching, and educational advocacy work meet at the intersection of disrupting education reform and strengthening public education through abolitionist teaching, antiracism, Black joy, and educational reparations. In the tradition of Michelle Alexander, Love’s new book Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal is an unflinching reckoning with the impact of forty years of racist public school policy on generations of Black lives.

Kamau Bell is a dad, a husband, and a comedian. He directed and executive produced the 2022 Showtime documentary We Need To Talk About Cosby, and he is the host of the Emmy-Award-winning CNN docu-series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. Bell has appeared on just about every late night comedy show, daytime news program, and broadcast media outlet you can think of, and his writing has been featured widely, including in his memoir and manifesto The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian. He has two stand-up comedy specials, Private School Negro and Semi-Prominent Negro.

Photo Credit: Aundre Larrow for The New York Times

Books Referenced

Films/TV Shows Referenced

Songs Referenced

Writers/Authors/Filmmakers/Artists Referenced

  • bell hooks
  • Public Enemy
  • Chuck D
  • Digable Planets
  • Patricia Williams
  • Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Carl Brigham 
  • Mariame Kaba
  • Erica R. Meiners 
  • Ron DeSantis 
  • Ronald Reagan 
  • Daryl Gates
  • Rodney King
  • Bill Gates
  • Harriett Ball
  • Asa Hilliard
  • Danny Masterson 
  • Shanyce L. Campbell
  • Hope Wollensack
  • Nzinga H. Broussard
  • Derecka Purnell
  • Trevor Noah
  • Dylan Rodriguez 
  • Lindsey Stewart 
  • Zora Neale Hurston 
  • Carol Anderson
  • Leigh Patel
  • Gholdy Muhammad 
  • Bayard Rustin 

Werner Herzog

This is for IN-PERSON TICKETS to the evening with Werner Herzog. If you would like to join us virtually for this event, please visit us here.

One of the most influential storytellers of our time and a founder of the German New Wave, Werner Herzog made his first film in 1961 at the age of nineteen. Since then, he has produced, written, and directed more than seventy feature and documentary films, including Aguirre, the Wrath of God; Nosferatu the Vampyre; Fitzcarraldo; Little Dieter Needs to Fly; Grizzly Man; Encounters at the End of the World; and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Herzog has published more than a dozen books of prose and has directed as many operas.

Caterina Fake is an entrepreneur and host of the podcast “Should This Exist?” which looks at the impact of technology on humanity. Fake co-founded the photo sharing company Flickr and served as Chairman of Etsy. She serves on the board of City Arts & Lectures, The Sundance Institute, Public Goods, and McSweeneys.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of Every Man for Himself and God Against All.* (SOLD OUT!)

*Books will be distributed at the Sydney Goldstein Theater, on the night of the event.

Photo Credit: Lena Herzog

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi

This is for IN-PERSON tickets to see Speaker Emerita Pelosi at the Sydney Goldstein Theater. If you would like to join us virtually, please visit us here.

A benefit for City Arts & Lectures’ Educational Outreach offering free tickets to students and educators.

Nancy Pelosi has represented San Francisco in Congress for more than 35 years. She served as the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, having made history in 2007 when she was elected the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. Pelosi made history again in January 2019 when she regained her position second-in-line to the presidency – the first person to do so in more than six decades. As Speaker, Pelosi spearheaded passage of the historic Affordable Care Act in the House and led the Congress in passing strong Wall Street reforms. Her legislative accomplishments also include the passage of historic investments in college aid, clean energy and innovation, and initiatives to help small businesses and veterans.

Jelani Cobb is Dean of Columbia University School of Journalism and a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2015. Cobb received a Peabody Award for his 2020 PBS Frontline film Whose Vote Counts? and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 2018. His books include The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, and he is co-editor of several volumes including The Matter of Black Lives and The Essential Kerner Commission Report.

Students & Educators: City Arts & Lectures offers free tickets to students and educators. Contact [email protected] to reserve seats. Requests must be made with a school-affiliated email address and/or a picture of school ID.

Photo credit: John Harrington

Governor Jerry Brown & Miriam Pawel

Join author Miriam Pawel and Governor Jerry Brown for a conversation about The Browns of California, Pawel’s panoramic history of California and its impact on the nation, from the Gold Rush to Silicon Valley-told through the lens of the family dynasty that led the state for nearly a quarter century. Even in the land of reinvention, the story is exceptional: Pat Brown, the beloved father who presided over California during an era of unmatched expansion; Jerry Brown, the cerebral son who became the youngest governor in modern times – and then returned three decades later as the oldest. Through the prism of their lives, we gain an essential understanding of California and an appreciation of its importance.


Liz Phair

co-presented with Noise Pop

A recording artist and touring performer for over twenty-five years, Liz Phair has paved the way for countless musicians, particularly women. Phair began her career in the early 1990s in Chicago by self-releasing audio cassettes under the name Girly-Sound. The intense viral response to these early tracks led to Phair signing with the independent label Matador Records, and her debut album, Exile in Guyville, is considered by music critics to be a landmark of indie rock. More than two decades later, Phair remains a major influence on contemporary music. In her forthcoming memoir, she takes readers inside the most intimate junctures of her life, from facing her own bad behavior and the repercussions of betraying her fundamental values, to watching her beloved grandmother inevitably fade, to undergoing the beauty of childbirth while being asked for an autograph by the anesthesiologist.


Tabitha Soren’s photographs investigate the difficulties of everyday living.  Whether it’s the disquieting images of people in looming danger in Running, or the anxiety-inspired oceans capes of Panic Beach, Soren is interested in what humans can and cannot endure. In 1999, Soren left a successful career in television, most notably with MTV, to become a photographer. Her work appears in several public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum of California, and has been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere.

Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey

In October 2017, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Their work helped ignite the #MeToo movement, shift attitudes, and spur new laws, policies and standards of accountability around the globe. Together with a team of colleagues who exposed harassment across industries, they were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement is the untold story behind that investigative reporting, from confidential discussions with top actresses to meticulous research of decades-old secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements.

Joining Kantor and Twohey for part of the conversation: Rowena Chiu. Chiu worked as Assistant to Harvey Weinstein in 1998. After leaving the film industry, she worked in the fields of management consulting and international development.

Bernice Yeung covers labor and employment for ProPublica. Previously, she was a reporter with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she was a member of the award-winning reporting teams that investigated the sexual assault of immigrant farm workers and night-shift janitors. She is the author of In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers.

Each orchestra ticket includes a copy of Kantor & Twohey’s new book: She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

Pico Iyer

“As a guide to far-flung places, Pico Iyer can hardly be surpassed.” – The New Yorker

Pico Iyer is a travel writer, essayist, and novelist, whose many books include Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Man Within My Head, and The Art of Stillness, a beautiful and thoughtful investigation of the benefits of quiet contemplation and travel to “nowhere.” With his two newest books, Iyer turns his attention to Japan, his adopted home of thirty-two years. Autumn Light is a moving personal account of grief and family. When his father-in-law dies suddenly, Iyer begins to grapple with the question we all have to live with: how to hold on to the things we love. In A Beginner’s Guide to Japan, Iyer draws on readings, reflections, and conversations with Japanese friends in order to illuminate an unknown place for newcomers and to give longtime residents a look at their home through fresh eyes.

Michael Lewis

Journalist and bestselling author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short, Flashboys) talks to Jacob Weisberg about his new podcast, AGAINST THE RULES, where he explores the corrosion of fairness in courts of law, Wall Street, sports, and the art world—to understand what it has done to our society, mostly without our noticing. The seven-episode season takes listeners from student-loan call centers to the courts of Uzbekistan to the new trading hubs of Wall Street (they’re in New Jersey). He speaks with a US Senator and the coach of the Golden State Warriors; the architect of the 9/11 settlement fund and a man who got rich off the 2008 financial crisis.


Dan Pfeiffer

Dan Pfeiffer is Obama’s former communications director and current co-host of the popular political podcast Pod Save America. In his forthcoming book, Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump, Pfeiffer tells never-before-told stories from Obama’s presidential campaigns to his time in the White House, providing readers with an in-depth, behind the-scenes look at life on the front lines of politics. In it, Pfeiffer details how the “Decade of Obama” was one of massive change that rewrote the rules of politics in ways we are only now beginning to understand.

Marisa Lagos reports for KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk and co-hosts a weekly show and podcast, Political Breakdown.

On Creativity

Musician, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, and author, Questlove is best known as the drummer of The Roots, Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group. He is the Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where his Roots crew serves as house band. He has held musical directing positions with everyone from D’Angelo to Eminem to Jay-Z, and is the author of Mo’ Meta Blues and Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation. Questlove is also immersed in the culinary world, hosting a series of salons with world-renowned chefs at his apartment in New York, appearing as a Guest Judge on Top Chef, and co-authoring Something to Food About, a collection of conversations with ten chefs. In his new book, Creative Quest, Questlove synthesizes the philosophies and practices of the many creators and collaborators in his life, and reflects on his own experience, to advise readers on how to cultivate creativity.

In his debut film, Sorry To Bother You, musician and activist Boots Riley pioneers “a new form of wildly inventive, highly confrontational satire that dares to question the system…” (Variety). Set in an alternate present-day Oakland, the film follows the surreal adventures of a telemarketer who chooses success over solidarity.  Boots Riley grew up in Oakland. He studied film at San Francisco State University before dropping out in favor of a major label recording deal. He put in two decades as leader of The Coup, a radical funk/punk/hip-hop band, where he penned six albums to widespread critical acclaim, receiving “Pop Album Of The Year” by Washington Post and Associated Press, and “Hip Hop Album Of The Year” by Rolling Stone. His book of lyrics and anecdotes, Tell Homeland Security We Are The Bomb, is out now from Haymarket Press. The Coup’s seventh, as-yet-unreleased album, The Sun Exploding is the soundtrack of Sorry To Bother You.

Carvell Wallace is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine and former columnist at MTV News. He writes about a wide-range of subjects including race, parenting, police brutality, and music and arts.  He is co-host of Slate’s podcast Mom and Dad Are Fighting, and creator and host of the podcast Closer Than They Appear on Al Jazeera


Orchestra tickets include a copy of Questlove’s new book, Creative Quest.

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is one of the world’s foremost writers – his artistry and aesthetic have influenced an entire generation of writers and readers. Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje’s work also encompasses poetry, memoir, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form. Born in Sri Lanka, the former Ceylon, of Indian/Dutch ancestry, he went to school in England, and then moved to Canada. He is the author of four collections of poetry including The Cinnamon Peeler and most recently, Handwriting. Ondaatje’s work of non-fiction is The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, which unites his love of literature and passion for the art of filmmaking. His works of fiction include In the Skin of a LionThe English PatientAnil’s Ghost, Divisadero, and The Cat’s Table. His next novel will be Warlight (Knopf, May 2018).

Steven Winn is a fiction writer and award-winning arts journalist. Winn spent 28 years at The San Francisco Chronicle, the last six as the Arts and Culture Critic. He is the author of Come Back, Como.


Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine. In 2016, she helped found the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a news trade organization dedicated to increasing the ranks of investigative reporters of color. Prior to joining The New York Times, Nikole worked as an investigative reporter at ProPublica in New York City, where she spent three years chronicling the way official policy created and maintains segregation in housing and schools. Before that, she reported for the largest daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, The Oregonian in Portland,  where she covered numerous beats, including demographics, the census and county government. She is writing a book on  school segregation called, The Problem We All Live With.

Alexis Madrigal is a staff writer at The Atlantic, the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology, and creator and producer of the podcast Containers.

Kim Gordon & Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus is the author of four novels, three books of art and cultural criticism, and most recently, After Kathy Acker – A Literary Biography, selected as one of the New York Times Best Art Books of 2017.  Her first novel, I Love Dick, was adapted for television.  The New York Times has described her as “one of our smartest and most original writers.”  Her work has been widely translated.  She is a co-editor, alongside Hedi El Kholti and Sylvere Lotringer, of the independent press Semiotexte, and teaches writing at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Kim Gordon has been writing and performing experimental rock music for more than three decades, in addition to her work as a visual artist, writer, and designer. In 1981, she co-founded the band Sonic Youth, for which she sang and played guitar and bass. Kim’s book of essays, Is It My Body?: Selected Texts, was published in 2014 on Sternberg Press.  Her memoir, Girl In A Band, was published in 2015 to international acclaim and her visual art continues to be exhibited worldwide.  Kim continues to perform solo improvisational shows as well as with ‘Body/Head’, a guitar duo with Bill Nace.

Irwin Swirnoff is a filmmaker, writer, curator, and host of Sleeves on Hearts, a weekly music and interview show on San Francisco Community Radio. He curates my gaze///yr gaze: a queer film series in San Francisco and teaches at Cal State University Monterey Bay and University of San Francisco.

The Opioid Crisis with Carl Hart & Leana Wen

Dr. Carl Hart is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University and the Dirk Ziff Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. Professor Hart has published numerous scientific and popular articles in the area of neuropsychopharmacology and is co-author of the textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (with Charles Ksir). His most recent book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society was the 2014 winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Professor Hart has appeared on multiple podcasts, radio and television shows and in several documentary films including the award-winning The House I Live In. His essays have been published in The New York Times, Scientific American, The Nation, Ebony, The Root, and Brazil’s O Globo.

Dr. Leana Wen is the Commissioner of Health in Baltimore City, where she oversees the nation’s oldest health department. Facing an unprecedented number of people dying from overdose, Dr. Wen issued a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, naloxone, which has saved over 1,900 lives in two years. A board-certified emergency physician, Dr. Wen was a Rhodes Scholar, Clinical Fellow at Harvard, consultant with the World Health Organization, and professor at George Washington University. She has published over 100 scientific articles and is the author of the book When Doctors Don’t Listen. In 2016, Dr. Wen was honored to be the recipient of the American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work. In 2017, she was named one of Governing’s Public Officials of the Year.

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders, and innovators.

Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay plays Lieutenant Olivia Benson on the long-running NBC series Law & Order: SVU. She is an Executive Producer and has also directed multiple episodes of the show. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama, a Golden Globe Award, and has earned an additional seven Emmy nominations, five SAG Award nominations, and two Gracie Allen Awards for American Women in Radio and Television.

Mariska’s role on SVU awakened her to the burdens that survivors of trauma often carry: the weight of shame, judgement and isolation. She was inspired by their courage and, in 2004, took this inspiration to a higher level by founding the Joyful Heart Foundation. Joyful Heart’s mission is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever. At the heart of their advocacy work is the End the Backlog campaign, with the goal of eliminating the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in storage facilities across our country, and to open up a path to healing and justice for survivors.

The program will include a sneak preview of her first feature documentary, I AM EVIDENCE, about the untested rape kit backlog. The film will premier on HBO in 2018.

This event is a benefit for Joyful Heart Foundation.


Salman Rushdie

Rushdie is our Scheherazade – Ursula K LeGuin

Salman Rushdie is the author of twelve novels including Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories, along with one collection of short stories: East, West. He has also published four works of nonfiction and co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. His forthcoming novel, The Golden House, is a modern epic of love and terrorism, loss and reinvention—a powerful, timely story told with the daring and panache that has kept Salman Rushdie a literary and cultural force for decades.


Tabitha Soren

Tabitha Soren’s photographs investigate the difficulties of everyday living.  Whether it’s the disquieting images of people in looming danger in Running, or the anxiety-inspired oceans capes of Panic Beach, Soren is interested in what humans can and cannot endure. For her newest collection, Fantasy Life: Baseball and the American Dream, Soren spent over a decade following 21 members of the Oakland A’s 2002 draft class. The resulting phonebook reflects the players’ dreams as well as today’s dystopian sensibilities. In 1999, Soren left a successful career in television, most notably with MTV, to become a photographer. Her work appears in several public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum of California, and has been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere.

An exhibition of 190 photographs from Fantasy Life is on view through December 15, 2017 as part of the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries program. This exhibition can be viewed Monday-Friday from 8am-8pm at San Francisco City Hall’s Lower Level and North Light Court. Free and open to the public. More information here.


Adam Gopnik Performs In: The Gates

The beloved New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik presents a one-man show of stories from his 30 years as a husband, father and writer in New York City. Many of these stories are featured in his new book, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York. He first performed this one-man show at last year’s New Yorker Festival.

Directed by the Moth’s Catherine Burns. A book signing will follow.

Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. His books include the essay collections Paris to the Moon, Through the Children’s Gate, and Winter: Five Windows on the Season; the children’s novels The King in the Window and The Steps Across the Water; and a book about cooking and eating, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food.  He has received three National Magazine Awards and the George Polk Award for magazine writing.

Van Jones

Van Jones is the President & Co-Founder of Dream Corps. Current initiatives include: #cut50, #YesWeCode, Green For All, and #LoveArmy. These innovative solutions “close the prison doors, open the doors of opportunity, into a new green economy.”  A Yale-educated attorney, Van has written two New York Times Bestsellers: The Green Collar Economy, the definitive book on green jobs, and Rebuild the Dream, a roadmap for progressives. Van is a correspondent for CNN and regular guest on political talk shows. In 2009, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House. There, he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy recovery spending.

Jessica Jackson Sloan is National Director of #cut50, a bipartisan initiative to end mass incarceration that she co-founded with Van Jones. Jessica began her career as a human rights attorney representing California death row inmates in their appeals. She became involved in the fight for criminal justice reform after her own family was torn apart by her husband’s incarceration.  In 2013, Jessica was elected to the Mill Valley City Council, becoming the youngest elected official in Marin County history. In 2016, she was elected by her fellow Councilmembers to serve as Mayor. In addition to her duties on the City Council, Jessica serves as Mill Valley’s representative to the Association of Bay Area Governments and Marin County’s Major Crimes Oversight Task Force. In her personal capacity, Jessica sits on The Committee for a Fair Judiciary and represents Congressman Jared Huffman on the Democratic Central Committee of Marin.
#cut50 is a national effort to safely and smartly reduce our incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next 10 years — using proven, bipartisan solutions. With humanization, legislation, and innovation we are building a more humane criminal justice system that keeps families together and communities safe.

Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is an inspiration.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Gyasi’s highly acclaimed debut novel,  Homegoing, begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day. Homegoing was named ‘Debut Novel of the Year’ by NPR and ‘2016 Notable Book’ by The New York Times.

Jeff Chang is a journalist, a music critic, Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, and the author of Who We Be, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, and We Gon’ Be Alright. 

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin holds the record for most appearances as a host on Saturday Night Live, with sixteen host dates since 1990. This past fall he returned to play Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, providing much needed humor in a highly contested and bitter election.  Baldwin has appeared in over forty films, including Beetle Juice, Working Girl, The Hunt for Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, Malice, The Juror, and The Departed, among many others. On television Baldwin starred as Jack Donaghy on Tina Fey’s irreverent series 30 Rock—for which he won two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards.  He has also been nominated for an Oscar and a Tony Award and is the author of the New York Times bestseller A Promise to Ourselves. His new book is Neverthless: A Memoir.

An evening with the creators of High Maintenance

What began as an art project-turned-critically-acclaimed web series is now among television’s most engaging, funny, and culturally en pointe series. High Maintenance, now on HBO, follows a Brooklyn pot dealer as he delivers to clients with neuroses as diverse as the city. The characters are uniquely compelling, and their interactions, at turns hilarious and touching, reveal as much about urban life, its attendant anxieties and pleasures, as they do about pot and today’s delivery culture. Katja Blichfeld (Executive Producer, Writer, Director), has won an Emmy Award for her work on 30 Rock. In addition, she has worked on major motion pictures, as well as numerous network television series, and spent several years in NBC’s East Coast casting office. Ben Sinclair (Executive Producer, Writer, Director) is an actor and editor, both of which he does for High Maintenance. Originally trained in theater, Sinclair’s acting credits include Sisters, Mercy, Safe, Law & Order: SVU, The Big C, and 30 Rock.  

Paul Auster

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature. Inventive and dexterously constructed, Auster’s new book 4 3 2 1 tells the story of Archibald Isaac Ferguson in four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Auster is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College and photography critic of the New York Times Magazine. Cole is the author of three books, a novella, Every Day is for the Thief; a novel, Open City; and an essay collection, Known and Strange Things. This year, Cole became the first writer ever to be named finalist for two PEN America literary awards (for Known and Strange Things).


Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and came to the United States as a refugee in 1975. “My memories of becoming a refugee are fragments of a dream,” he writes, “hallucinatory and unreliable. Soldiers bouncing me on their knees, a tank rumbling through the streets, a crowded barge of desperate people fleeing Vietnam.”  In his work, including the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Sympathizer and his forthcoming collection of short stories, The Refugees, Nguyen examines the far-reaching effects of war and gives voice to life lived between two worlds, the adopted homeland, and the country of birth. His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

Judson True received a Master of Journalism from UC Berkeley before working in San Francisco government. A former spokesman for Muni, he now serves as chief of staff for California Assemblymember David Chiu. His previous City Arts & Lectures interviews include Joan Didion, David Remnick, Gene Wilder, Jill Lepore, and Barney Frank.

The Teenage Brain with Frances Jensen

For years, scientists were driven by the assumption that brain growth was nearly complete by the time a child began kindergarten, leading them to believe that the adolescent brain was essentially identical to that of an adult—only with less mileage. However, new research shows the importance of formative teen years for brain development. Motivated by personal parenting experience (as the mother of two teenage boys), renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen gathers discoveries about adolescent brain function, wiring, and capacity in a groundbreaking new book, The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents. Jensen explains how these eye-opening findings dispel commonly held myths about the teenage years and provides practical suggestions to help adults and teenagers negotiate the mysterious world of adolescent neurobiology. 

Frances E. Jensen, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. She was Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Director of Translational Neuroscience and Director of Epilepsy Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Senior Neurologist at Boston Children’s and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. She lectures widely about the teen brain at science museums, TEDMED, and high schools.

Adam Savage is an industrial special effects designer and former co-host of The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters with Jamie Hyneman.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family cannot afford health insurance. Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, soon to be an HBO movie, tells the riveting story of that collision between ethics, race, and medicine in a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans and the birth of bioethics.  Skloot specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, and food politics in The New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Discover, and elsewhere.

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS is the Lee Goldman, MD Endowed Chair in Medicine and Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is a general internist and cardiovascular disease epidemiologist and directs the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, a research center focused on discovery, innovation, policy, advocacy, and community engagement for communities at risk for poor health and inadequate healthcare.

This event is a benefit for the Henrietta Lacks Foundation.

Microdosing: A Psychedelic Approach to Mood Disorders with Ayelet Waldman

When a small vial arrives in her mailbox from “Lewis Carroll,” Ayelet Waldman is at a low point. Her mood storms have become intolerably severe; she has tried nearly every medication possible; her husband and children are suffering with her. So she opens the vial, places two drops on her tongue, and joins the ranks of an underground but increasingly vocal group of scientists and civilians successfully using therapeutic microdoses of LSD. As Waldman charts her experience over the course of a month–bursts of productivity, sleepless nights, a newfound sense of equanimity–she also explores the history and mythology of LSD, the cutting-edge research into the drug, and the byzantine policies that control it. Drawing on her experience as a federal public defender and the mother of teenagers, as well as her research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics, Waldman has produced a book that is as entertaining as it is eye-opening.

Ayelet Waldman is the author of the novels Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, as well as of the essay collection Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace and the Mommy-Track Mystery series. She was a Federal public defender and an adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, where she developed and taught a course on the legal implications of the War on Drugs.

Dr. Jen Gunter is a Bay Area OB/GYN, veteran blogger and Twitter’s resident gynecologist. She hosts her own blog on reproductive health,, and has written for Slate, The New Republic, Vox, The Daily Beast,, and She has also written a book for parents on prematurity.

The Irrational Mind with Michael Lewis

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies that unraveled our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations, and created a new field of study, behavioral economics. Their work went on to revolutionize Big Data studies, advance evidence-based medicine, and led to a new approach to government regulation. A seemingly unlikely duo, Kahneman and Tversky worked so closely together that they often could not remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. And yet they make one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science. Michael Lewis’ new book, The Undoing Project, tells a story about the workings of the human mind through the personalities of these two fascinating individuals. 

Michael Lewis is a best-selling author and contributing editor to Vanity Fair. Known for his meticulous research on far-reaching subjects, Lewis’ many books include Liar’s Poker, a semi-autobiographical account of Wall Street traders and salesmen; Moneyball, about Oakland A’s manager Billy Bean; The Big Short, about the housing and credit crisis of the 2000’s; the bestseller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster The Blind Side;  Boomerang, a chronicle of the fiscal recklessness in both Europe and the U.S. that led to the current international debt crisis; and Flash Boys, in which Lewis reveals the top secret world of high frequency trading.

Jacob Ward is Al Jazeera‘s science and technology correspondent in the United States. The former editor-in-chief of Popular Science magazine, Ward has written for The New Yorker, Wired, and Men’s Health. He’s currently at work on a book about the science of bias, and is the host of an upcoming four-hour television series about human decision-making and irrationality, due to air on public television in early 2018. His past interviews for City Arts & Lectures include godfather of the Internet Vinton Cerf, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and psychologist Sherry Turkle.

Steve Kerr

***Date changed from Friday, December 2***

Steve Kerr is a six-time NBA Champion– three wins with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs as a point guard, and most recently as head coach when the Golden State Warriors won the 2015 NBA Finals.  Kerr was named head coach on May 14, 2014. Under Kerr’s leadership, the Warriors have broken numerous records including most regular season wins for a rookie coach in 2015 and most wins in an NBA season in 2016.

The event is a benefit for the Warriors Community Foundation. Warriors Community Foundation is dedicated to making a significant and lasting impact on the lives of the under-served youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Foundation lives its mission through community grants and innovation partnerships with local nonprofit organizations.

Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times and the author of Are Men Necessary? and Bushworld. During the 1970s and 1980s Dowd wrote a sports column for The Washington Star and covered politics and pop culture for TIME magazine. Dowd joined the Times in 1983 and worked as a metropolitan reporter in New York and political correspondent in Washington before getting an op-ed column in 1995. In 1999, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her series of columns on the Clinton impeachment and Monica Lewinsky scandal. This is the ninth presidential race Dowd has covered for the Times. In The Year of Voting Dangerously, Dowd traces the psychologies and pathologies in what she considers America’s most epic and consequential battle of the sexes. The book features Dowd’s trademark cocktail of saucy humor and keen analysis. 

Colson Whitehead

COLSON WHITEHEAD takes on a multitude of issues with original wit and a rich imagination. In 1999, he burst onto the literary scene with his award-winning debut novel, The Intuitionist, which concerned the travails of the first black woman elevator inspector in New York City. His second novel, John Henry Days, followed in 2001 and was met with much critical acclaim. John Updike wrote in a New Yorker review that the novel “does what writing should do; it refreshes our sense of the world.” Whitehead is also the author of The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays about his hometown, Apex Hides the Hurt, Sag Harbor, and Zone One, a zombie novel influenced by films Whitehead watched as a child. His long-awaited new novel, The Underground Railroad, is a magnificent and wrenching chronicle of a young slave’s journeys as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newsom is among the most critically lionized American musicians to emerge in the past decade” (New York Times). City Arts & Lectures is thrilled to have enticed the singer, songwriter, and harpist back to town after her sold-out appearance at the Fox Theater. The pairing – one of music’s most literary-minded artists, and one of San Francisco’s favorite authors (whose far-ranging tastes include a well documented appreciation of Ms. Newsom’s music) – promises a fascinating conversation about Newsom’s widely acclaimed recent album Divers, the creative process, artistic influences and more.



The Untold History of Autism

What is autism? A lifelong disability or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In his debut book, NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. Going back to the earliest days of autism, Silberman reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, the father of Asperger’s syndrome, and exposes the covert campaign to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for fifty years by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner. He casts light on the growing movement of “neurodiversity” activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, and accommodations both in the workplace and in education, as well as the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences. Steve Silberman will be in conversation with Roy Eisenhardt,  former Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences and adjunct professor at UC Berkeley School of Law.

An Evening with MARIA BAMFORD

Described as “the most unique, bizarre, imaginative comedian out there,” by Judd Apatow, Maria Bamford draws much of her inspiration from her Minnesotan family, as well as her own struggle with anxiety, OCD, and depression. She is the creator and star of Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special!, star of the cult hit web series The Maria Bamford Show, and the first female comic with two half-hour specials by Comedy Central. She starred alongside Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, and Brian Posehn in the Comedy Central series The Comedians of Comedy and the Netflix documentary Comedians of Comedy: The Movie. Her Netflix television series, Lady Dynamite, is slated for release later this spring.

Jesse Thorn is the creator and host of NPR’s Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, an arts and culture interview show, which can be heard Sundays at 4 on 91.7FM KALW. Jesse also owns and operates the podcasting network, which is home to popular podcasts like Judge John Hodgman and many more.

Mindy Kaling

* Please note 7PM start time.

Mindy Kaling is an actor, writer, producer, and director. She penned her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), in 2011, and has recently published Why Not Me?, a humorous (of course) examination of work, love, friendship, and the oddities and realities of “adult life.”

Kaling starred as Kelly Kapoor on the Emmy Award-winning comedy The Office. She also wrote twenty-three episodes of the series, including “Niagara,” which earned her an Emmy nomination. In 2012, Kaling created the critically acclaimed series The Mindy Project, in which she also stars. She lent her voice to Pixar’s Inside Out this summer, and is featured in Seth Rogen’s The Night Before. Kaling made her film debut in Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Each ticket includes a signed, first edition copy of Why Not Me?

This event is Co-presented with Books, Inc.

Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello is an English singer-songwriter. He began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and new wave movement of the mid-to-late 1970s. His critically acclaimed debut album, My Aim Is True,  was recorded in 1977 and named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone. He has recorded over twenty albums since, including This Year’s Model and Armed Forces. In a career spanning over forty years, he has received a Grammy Award, twice been nominated for the Brit Award, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame with his band the Attractions in 2003. His new memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success.

Dan Stone is editor-in-chief of Radio Silence, a Bay Area magazine of literature and rock and roll. In his six years as a program manager and documentary producer at the National Endowment for the Arts, Stone interviewed more than 200 writers, musicians, actors, artists, and cultural figures including James Earle Jones, Tobias Wolff, Lucinda Williams, Robert Redford, Alice Walker, Sandra Day O’Connor and many more.

Jesse Eisenberg

Known for his roles in The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland, The Social Network, Zombieland, The Living Wake, and To Rome with Love, and, soon, for his portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman, Jesse Eisenberg is also an accomplished writer. He is the author of three plays, including The Revisionist, which ran on Broadway in 2013 starring Eisenberg and Vanessa Redgrave. His short stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, and in The New Yorker. His whip-smart fiction debut, Bream Gives Me Hiccups, delivers a collection of forty-four hilarious, moving, and inventive stories exploring the various insanities of the modern world.

W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a socio-political comedian best known for his critically acclaimed FX comedy series, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. In its brief time, Totally Biased was nominated for both an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Award. Chris Rock was the executive producer of Totally Biased, who became a fan after seeing a performance of Kamau’s one-man show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour. Kamau still performs that show at colleges across the country. Bell has recently been announced as the host of CNN’s upcoming travel show, The United Shades of America.  He is also proud to be the ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice, as well as sitting on the advisory board of Race Forward, a racial justice think tank, and Hollaback, a non-profit movement to end street harassment. These days, Kamau might be most excited about his weekly podcast, Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period, with fellow comedian Kevin Avery .

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is an gay activist, author, media pundit and journalist. His advice column, “Savage Love,” showcases his honest approach to sex, love and relationships, syndicated in newspapers and websites throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Savage is the Editorial Director of The Stranger, Seattle’s weekly alternative newspaper, and his writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Rolling Stone, The Onion, and on Savage is also the author of several books, including Savage Love,  The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family, and his most recent, American Savage. In September 2010, Savage created a YouTube video with his husband Terry Miller to inspire hope for LGBT young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives, Savage and Miller wanted to create a personal message to let LGBT youth know that “it gets better.” Today, the It Gets Better Project has become a global movement, inspiring more than 50,000 It Gets Better videos viewed over 50 million times. The It Gets Better book, co-edited by Savage and Miller, was published in March 2011, and an MTV documentary special on the project aired in February 2012. Dan Savage grew up in Chicago and now lives in Seattle, Washington with his husband Terry Miller and their son, DJ.

Michelle Tea is the Artistic Director of RADAR Productions, a San Francisco-based non-profit that produces literary events throughout the Bay Area in order to stimulate the production of queer and underground literature. She is also a co-founder of all-female open mics, Sister Spit, which have toured the national several times, calling attention to the City’s emerging lesbian artists. She has a published four memoirs, including the award-winning Valencia, and edited numerous anthologies on feminisms, fashion, and queer culture.

Sarah Vowell

Author, essayist, and radio commentator Sarah Vowell, is loved for her unique perspective on American history and for her distinctive voice as a contributing editor on This American Life. She is a New York Times’ bestselling author of five nonfiction books on American history and culture.  Her books, which include Take the CannoliThe Partly Cloudy PatriotUnfamiliar FishesThe Wordy Shipmates, and Assassination Vacation, examine the connections between America’s past and present, and offer Vowell’s personal, always surprising and humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics, utopian dreamers, pop music and the odd cranky cartographer. Vowell was a contributing editor for This American Life from 1996-2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries. She was also one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s and has been a columnist for Salon.comTimeSF Weekly, and continues to write occasional essays for the opinion page of The New York Times. She is the president of the board of 826NYC.  Her forthcoming book is titled Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. 

Daniel Handler is the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your MouthAdverbs, and Why We Broke Up (a collaboration with illustrator Maira Kalman). Under the pen name Lemony Snicket, he is the author of the young adult series All The Wrong Questions and A Series of Unfortunate Events. His newest novel is We Are Pirates. Handler’s past interviews include Paul Auster, Stephen Merritt, and Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Miranda July & Sheila Heti

Filmmaker, artist, and author Miranda July, is known for her off beat and independent short films and performance art.  Her videos, performances, and web-based projects have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and in two Whitney Biennials. In 2005, July starred in and directed her first feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, and in 2011, she wrote and starred in The Future. July’s fiction has appeared in The Paris ReviewHarper’s, and The New Yorker. She published her first collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, in 2007, and her first novel,  The First Bad Man, in 2015.

Sheila Heti is the author of seven books, including How Should a Person Be? which The New York Times Book Review called an “odd, original, and nearly unclassifiable book,” and which was named as a best book of the year by The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Salon. Recently, she published the New York Times bestseller, Women in Clothesa collaboration with Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton, featuring the writing and wardrobes of 639 women. She is also the author of Ticknor and The Chairs Are Where the People Go. McSweeney’s recently published her play,  All Our Happy Days are Stupid.

Thao Nguyen is an American singer-songwriter originally from Virginia, now based in San Francisco. She is a member of the band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, with whom she has toured extensively and collaborated with other artists such as Joanna Newsom and Andrew Bird. In additional to her musical endeavors, she has worked with 826 Valencia and California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Her advocacy and support of CCWP inspired the band’s most recent album, We The Common.

David McCullough

One of the most respected historians of our time, David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books are 1776, Brave Companions, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, and The Greater Journey. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. His newest book, The Wright Brothers, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Dick Cavett

The legendary Dick Cavett established his reputation in the late 60’s as the most erudite of American talk show hosts. The Dick Cavett Show was one of the longest-running talk shows in television history, setting the bar for conversational in-depth interviews, with a wide range of guests from Groucho Marx to Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire to Noel Coward, David Bowie to Gloria Swanson, Buckminster Fuller to Jimi Hendrix, and even the notorious on-camera dustup between Normal Mailer and Gore Vidal. The master of talk recently appeared onstage in both New York and Los Angeles as himself in Hellman v. McCarthy, a play about the long-running feud between writers Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman. From as early as the eighth grade, it was clear that Cavett was destined for a life in show business, directing a live Saturday morning radio show in Nebraska and performing magic for $35 a night. Before discovering his gift as an interviewer, he had a brief career in stand-up and even performed at the Hungry I in San Francisco. Cavett is a regular contributor to the New York Times with his Opinionator column, in which he often shares personal reflections on his own life, including his bouts of clinical depression. His published books include the recent Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks.

The Internet of Things

Widely known as the “Father of the Internet,” Vinton Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and basic architecture of the Internet. He worked throughout the 1970s on developing the protocols that would become the basis for internet communication. In the early 1980s, while at MCI, he developed and deployed the first commercial email service to use the internet. His efforts have greatly shaped the communication and technological world as we know it. Now, he looks ahead to what the internet has in store for our future.

The first version of the Internet was about data created by people, while the next version is about data created by things. The Internet of Things describes a world of devices from cars to light bulbs that communicate with a central network and with one another. When most of us think about the concept of being connected, we think about our phones, tablets and computers. The IoT describes a world where just about anything can connect and communicate with anything else in an intelligent way. It’s a world that communicates without the direct participation of humans making millions of “decisions” that can help make the world a better place by reducing waste, loss and costs.

Jacob Ward is the science and technology correspondent for Al Jazeera America. The former Editor-In-Chief of Popular Science magazine, Ward has hosted television programs for PBS’s NOVA ScienceNow, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel, as well as written for The New Yorker and Wired. Ward began his career at The Industry Standard, covering the earliest days of the Internet, and went on to cover business, design and innovation as an editor at Architecture, Men’s Journal, and Popular Science.

Vinton Cerf is the 2015 Annual Claire Matzger Lilienthal Distinguished Lecturer


Drugs, Dopamine, and Lessons From The Brain

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Volkow’s work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, she pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system, affecting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive, and pleasure in addiction. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging.

Michael Krasny is the host of the KQED Public Radio program Forum. He is also a professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Spiritual Envy: an Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many City Arts & Lectures interviews include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving, and Brian Greene.


Chuck Todd

Chuck Todd is the NBC News Political Director and the moderator and managing editor of Meet the Press, the flagship Sunday morning public affairs program and longest-running broadcast in television history. A self-described political junkie, Todd has earned a reputation as one of the most passionate journalists and sharpest analysts in American media. Upon his appointment to Meet the Press, influencers and competitors praised him as “a tireless reporter” with “an encyclopedic knowledge of politics” and the ability to “break down barriers and get people off of their talking points.” Prior to taking the helm of Meet the Press in September 2014, Todd served as NBC News Chief White House Correspondent (2008-2014) as well as host of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown (2010-2014). In 2009, Todd co-authored with Sheldon Gawiser the definitive election result analysis book for the 2008 presidential campaign,  How Barack Obama Won. His second book, The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House, was published in November.

Barney Frank

Please note: this event is at 4:00pm.

Barney Frank represented the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts for nearly five decades and chaired the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2013. Known for his quick wit and rapid-fire speaking style, he is broadly considered, during his tenure, one of the most powerful members of Congress. In his new autobiography, Frank, he explores the emotional toll of living in the closet and how he became the first member of Congress to voluntarily disclose his homosexuality. He is a regular commentator on MSNBC and lives near Portland, Maine, with his husband.

Sally Mann

Sally Mann is one of America’s most renowned photographers, best known for her large-scale black and white photographs of her family as well as her more recent epic landscapes. She has received numerous awards, including National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Guggenheim Foundation grants. Her many books include Immediate FamilyWhat Remains, The Flesh and the Spirit, and Deep South. In her 2009 collection, Proud Flesh, Mann photographed her husband of 39 years and the beautiful and haunting images reveal a profoundly trusting relationship between a man and a woman.  A feature film about Mann’s work, What Remains, debuted to critical acclaim in 2006. Sally Mann lives in Lexington, Virginia. Her newest, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, is a revealing and beautifully written memoir and family history.

Slavoj Žižek


Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse, In Defense of Lost Causes, and four volumes of the Essential Žižek among many others.  He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.


John Waters

Filmmaker John Waters is perhaps best known for his campy 1998 film, Hairspray, which spawned a long-running Broadway musical and film starring John Travolta. But it is Waters’s decades of off-beat, highly original independent films set in his hometown of Baltimore that have earned him cult status, beginning with his first short film, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, to 1972’s Pink Flamingos and beyond. In his films, as well as through acting, writing, and visual art, Waters explores the macabre, kitsch, hilarity, horror, exploitation, and the joyfully trashy with an artist’s eye. In an industry where complete creative control is the rare exception, Waters has managed to make films on his own terms for more than 30 years. Of his newest book, Carsick, Lawrence Osborne of The New York Times Book Review wrote, “Fantastical and plush . . . Carsick becomes a portrait not just of America’s desolate freeway nodes—though they are brilliantly evoked—but of American fame itself.”

Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder is an American poet, Zen Buddhist, mountaineer, environment activist, and founding member of the Beat Generation. He has written 16 collections of poetry and prose, including Danger on Peaks, Mountains and Rivers Without End, The Practice of the Wild, Axe Handles, and Turtle Island.  Described as “the Thoreau of the Beat Generation,” his work is rooted deeply in elements of nature and preservation. Since 1970 he has lived in the watershed of the South Yuba River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and a finalist for the National Book Award in 1992, Snyder has been awarded the Bollingen Poetry Prize and the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award.  Snyder’s forthcoming collection is This Present Moment. 


Jon Ronson


“Jon Ronson is a brilliant and interesting dude.” – Jon Stewart

Jon Ronson’s newest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, delivers a fascinating and funny examination of today’s heady mix of Schadenfreude and digital media. Social media has not only given individuals a public platform for making mistakes, it has given “the herd” a place for punishing strangers, celebrities, and really anyone at all.

Ronson is a Welsh journalist, documentary filmmaker, radio presenter, and author. His books include the New York Times bestsellers The Psychopath Test and Lost at Sea and international bestsellers Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats. The latter was adapted as a major motion picture, released in 2009 and starring George Clooney. Ronson co-wrote the screenplay for Frank, which debuted at Sundance 2014, and which stars Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Read an except of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed in the New York Times here.


Candice Bergen

Candice Bergen’s film credits include The Sand Pebbles, Carnal Knowledge, Starting Over (for which she received an Oscar nomination), and Miss Congeniality. On television, she made headlines as the star of Murphy Brown, for which she won five Emmy Awards. She later starred with James Spader and William Shatner in the critically acclaimed series Boston Legal. A gifted writer, Bergen has written numerous articles, a play, and her first bestselling memoir, Knock Wood. In Fine Romance, her forthcoming memoir and the follow-up to Knock Wood, Bergen writes about her marriage to a famous French director, the birth of her daughter, Murphy Brown, widowhood, and falling in love again.

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari is one of the biggest stars in the comedy world. In 2012, Rolling Stone put him on the cover of their special comedy issue labeling him “the funniest man under 30.”

In October, Aziz Ansari became one of only a few comedians to headline Madison Square Garden in New York. He successfully performed two sold out stand-up comedy shows in front of more than 20,000 fans. These shows were filmed for his fourth hour+ long special- to be released in 2015.  He continues to perform stand up for tens of thousands of people in each city in theaters and arenas throughout the world.

In 2013, his third hour-long stand-up special, “Buried Alive”, premiered on Netflix. The special was named one of the best standup specials of the year by The Onion, The A.V. Club and Paste Magazine.

Ansari co-stars opposite Amy Poehler in the beloved Emmy and Golden Globe nominated NBC series “Parks and Recreation,” which is now in its sixth season. Ansari’s portrayal of government employee ‘Tom Haverford’ has earned him critical praise including Entertainment Weekly naming him one of their “Breakout TV Stars,” TV Guide naming him a “Scene Stealer” and People Magazine naming him 2011’s “Funniest Dude in Prime Time.”

Additionally, Ansari has landed a book deal with The Penguin Press about modern dating and how the basic issues facing a single person—whom we meet, how we meet them, and what happens next—have been radically altered by new technologies. This book is due to hit the shelves in fall 2015.

Ansari has also kept busy in the film world. His voice was featured in the Twentieth Century Fox animated hit film Epic, and he made a cameo in This Is The End opposite Seth Rogen and James Franco last summer. Additional film credits include Funny People (playing the cult favorite Raaaaaandy), 30 Minutes or Less, Get Him to the Greek, I Love You, Man, Observe and Report, and Ice Age: Continental Drift.


Frances McDormand

Acclaimed actress Frances McDormand has appeared in numerous films including Burn After Reading, Mississippi Burning, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Man Who Wasn’t There.  While her Oscar-winning performance as a tenacious Minnesota police officer in the Coen brothers’ film Fargo brought her widespread fame, her supporting roles and her uncompromising approach to acting had already earned her the respect of audiences and directors.  Throughout her career, McDormand has continued to work both on and off-Broadway, in plays like The Country Girl, Far Away, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Good People, for which she received a Tony Award. Most recently, she produced and starred in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge.

Lena Dunham

“It’s not Lena Dunham’s candor that makes me gasp. Rather it’s her writing—which is full of surprises where you least expect them. A fine, subversive book.”

— David Sedaris

Lena Dunham is the creator of the critically acclaimed HBO series Girls, for which she also serves as executive producer, writer, and director. She has been nominated for eight Emmy awards and has won two Golden Globes, including Best Actress, for her work on Girls. She was the first woman to win the Director’s Guild of America award for directorial achievement in comedy. Dunham has also written and directed two feature-length films (including Tiny Furniture in 2011) and is a frequent contributor to The New YorkerNot That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” is her first book.

Note: Tickets to this event include a copy of Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl.

Roz Chast

Cartoonist Roz Chast is a brilliant interpreter of the everyday, perhaps best known for her over 1000 contributions to The New Yorker (editor David Remnick has called her “the magazine’s only certifiable genius.”) Chast’s cartoons depicting neuroses, hilarity, angst and domesticity have appeared in nine collections as well as her recently published memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant.”  Her other published works include the children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! on which she collaborated with Steve Martin, What I Hate: From A – Z, and Theories of Everything

Marilynne Robinson

One of the most celebrated novelists of our time, Marilynne Robinson writes in the tradition of Whitman, Thoreau, and Dickinson using language as precise as it is radiant to describe characters and landscapes of the nineteenth century America. Twenty-four years after completing her first novel, Housekeeping, Robinson returned to fiction with Gilead. An intimate story of fathers and sons, spirituality, history, and the everyday, Gilead received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2004. A skilled and celebrated essayist, Robinson is also the author of Mother Country and The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought. In her newest novel, Lila, Robinson returns to the town of Gilead, revisiting some of the beloved characters from her previous novel to tell the story of girlhood lived on the fringes of society.

Cornel West

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. A current professor at Union Theological Seminary, he has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. The recipient of more than twenty honorary degrees, he has written many important books, including Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He appears frequently on Real Time with Bill MaherThe Colbert Report, CNN, C-SPAN, and other national and international media.  His forthcoming book, Black Prophetic Fire, will be published in October.  

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and activist. Her films include Zizek! and Examined Life. Taylor’s writing has appeared in The Nation, the London Review of Books, and Bookforum.  Most recently she is the author of the book The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. 

Anne Lamott & Jack Kornfield

Anne Lamott is loved for her ability to write eloquently, gracefully, and often hilariously about complicated subjects. Described by the New York Times as “a narrator who has relished and soaked up the details of her existence, equally of mirth and devastation, and spilled them onto her pages,” Lamott has written on subjects ranging from alcoholism and single parenting to religion and writer’s block. She is the author of seven novels including Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), as well as five bestselling books of non-fiction: Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, a guide to writing and the challenges of a writer’s life; Traveling Mercies, a collection of autobiographical essays on faith; and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.  Her forthcoming collection of essays, Small Victories, will be published in November.

Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and was one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. After graduating from Dartmouth College in Asian Studies in 1967, he joined the Peace Corps and worked on rural health and tropical medicine teams in northeast Thailand, which is home to several of the world’s oldest Buddhist forest monasteries. He met and studied under the Buddhist master Ven. Ajahn Chah, as well as the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. After returning to the United States, Jack co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. He is also a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. Over the past 40 years, Kornfield has taught in centers and universities worldwide, led International Buddhist Teacher meetings with the Dalai Lama, and worked with many of the great teachers of our time. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a father and activist. His many books include, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, A Path with Heart, and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.

Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore is a professor of American history at Harvard University and chair of Harvard’s History and Literature Program. She is a staff writer at The New Yorker, and her essays and reviews have also appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesThe American Scholar, and in scholarly journals including the Journal of American HistoryThe American Historical Review, and American Quarterly. Her 2013 biography of Jane Franklin Mecom, Book of Ages, was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Her newest book is The Secret History of Wonder Woman, a riveting work that unfolds both the origin of one of American popular culture’s most iconic figures and the history of twentieth-century feminism.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Movie Marathon


City Arts & Lectures will pay tribute to the late actor and director, Philip Seymour Hoffman, with free screenings of nine films.  Presented over the course of a weekend – Saturday February 22 and Sunday February 23 – the movie marathon will showcase some of Hoffman’s most memorable roles and his directorial debut.  The event is free and open to the public (no tickets required).   The back-to-back screenings (over nineteen hours playing over the course of two days) encourage people to remember, or perhaps see for the first time, Hoffman’s remarkable talents.  The selection testifies to his broad range, his sensitivity to character and story, and the subtlety and concentration Hoffman brought to some of cinema’s most complex characters.


Magnolia – 10 AM (running time: 180 min)

Synecdoche, New York – 1:30 PM (124 min)

Jack Goes Boating – 4:00 PM (89 min)

The Master – 6:00 PM (144 min)

The Big Lebowski – 9:00 PM (117 min)


Boogie Nights – 12 PM (155 min)

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead – 3 PM   (117 min)

Owning Mahowny – 5:00 PM (104 min)

Capote – 7:00 PM (114 min)

About Philip Seymour Hoffman

As one of America’s most appreciated artists, Philip Seymour Hoffman inhabited a nearly impossible range of characters in more than 50 films and in numerous plays, both on and off Broadway.   The consummate character actor portrayed flawed, complicated, and lonely individuals with intelligence and depth.  His exceptional talent for subtlety and concentration compel many to call him an “actor’s actor,” but Hoffman impressed a much wider audience by bringing profound empathy to what might otherwise be dark or remote characters.  Hoffman won an Oscar for his stunning work in “Capote,” and showcased a capacity to transform himself and enliven a part in many other unforgettable roles in movies like “Boogie Nights,” “Happiness,” “The Savages,” “25th Hour,” and “The Master,” and on Broadway in “Death of A Salesman.”  In January 2006, City Arts & Lectures presented Hoffman in conversation with Roy Eisenhardt at Davies Symphony Hall.  The program was a benefit for New York’s LAByrinth Theater Company, a multi-cultural ensemble devoted to producing new works.  Hoffman was Artistic Director at the time.  City Arts & Lectures will re-broadcast that conversation Tuesday, February 11 at 8pm on KQED 88.5 FM.  Hoffman died on February 2, 2014 at the age of 46.     


Michael Lewis

A best-selling author and contributing editor to Vanity Fair Magazine, Michael Lewis is known for his meticulous research on far reaching subjects. His newest book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, reveals the top secret world of high frequency trading. Is the U.S. stock market rigged? Lewis makes a compelling case for the notion that it most definitely is. And he does so with his signature flair for story-telling, Hollywood-ready characters and a nuanced grasp of complex financial matters.

Lewis’ many books include Liars Poker, a semi-autobiographical account of Wall Street traders and salesmen, Moneyball, about Oakland A’s manager Billy Bean, The Big Short, about the housing and credit crisis of the 2000’s, and the bestseller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster The Blind Side. In Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour, Lewis chronicled the fiscal recklessness in both Europe and the U.S. that led to the current international debt crisis.

Read the New York Times review of Flash Boys here.

Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins’ warm, wise, and wonderfully weird novels—including Still Life With Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates—provide an entryway into the frontier of his singular imagination. Madcap but sincere, pulsating with strong social and philosophical undercurrents, his irreverent classics have introduced countless readers to natural born hitchhiking cowgirls, born-again monkeys, a philosophizing can of beans, exiled royalty, and problematic redheads.

In the forthcoming book Tibetan Peach Pie, Robbins turns that unparalleled literary sensibility inward, stitching together stories of his unconventional life, from his Appalachian childhood to his globetrotting adventures —told in his unique voice that combines the sweet and sly, the spiritual and earthy. The grandchild of Baptist preachers, Robbins would become over the course of half a century a poet-interruptus, an air force weatherman, a radio dj, an art-critic-turned-psychedelic-journeyman, a world-famous novelist and a counter-culture hero, leading a life as unlikely, magical, and bizarre as those of his quixotic characters.

Robbins offers intimate snapshots of Appalachia during the Great Depression, the West Coast during the Sixties psychedelic revolution, international roving before homeland security monitored our travels, and New York publishing when it still relied on trees. Written with the big-hearted comedy and mesmerizing linguistic invention for which he is known, Tibetan Peach Pie is an invitation into the private world of a literary legend.

Lorrie Moore & Mona Simpson

Lorrie Moore’s stories have long been favorites among lovers of the form. Collected in Self Help, Like Life, Birds of America and the forthcoming Bark, her stories examine the public and private absurdities of American life and combine irony, wit, and tenderness.  Also a novelist, Moore’s books include Anagram, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and A Gateway at the Stairs. She is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin where she teaches creative writing.


Mona Simpson studied poetry at University of California, Berkeley and worked as a journalist before moving to New York to attend Columbia University’s MFA program. During graduate school, she published her first short stories in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review and Mademoiselle. She worked as an editor at The Paris Review for five years while finishing her first novel, Anywhere But Here.  Her other works include The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, My Hollywood, Off Keck Road, and her new novel Casebook.

Piper Kerman

This program is a  benefit for Prison University Project

Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which has been adapted into an original television series for Netflix.  Kerman’s experience has inspired her to work on issues of prison reform and she is a frequent invited speaker to students, scholars, and policy-makers in the fields of law, criminology, gender studies, and social justice.  She serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association.  She also works as a communications consultant with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest.


Nancy Mullane is a journalist and Executive Producer of Life of the Law, a national radio program and podcast looking at the law in American Society. Mullane is also author of the non-fiction book, Life After Murder: Five Men In Search Of Redemption.


The mission of the Prison University Project is to provide excellent higher education programs to people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and to stimulate public awareness and meaningful dialogue about higher education access and criminal justice in California.  PUP’s College Program at San Quentin provides an Associate of Arts Degree program, as well as College Preparatory courses in math and English, to nearly 350 students at the prison.

The Neurobiology of Mind & Behavior

Antonio Damasio is a professor of neuroscience and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. His research helped uncover the neural basis for emotions and has shown that they play a central role in social cognition and decision-making. Since antiquity, artists and philosophers have sought to explain how we perceive, interpret, and shape our existence. Recent advances in brain imaging and fresh insights into the functioning of the human brain at the level of systems, cells and molecules, now provide opportunities for uncovering the neurological basis for a large array of mental functions from emotion and decision-making to the creativity expressed in the arts, sciences and technology.


Antonio Damasio will be in conversation with Amy Standen from KQED Science, an award-winning multimedia science and environment series. Her work has been recognized by the National Association of Public Radio News Directors and Northern California’s Society of Professional Journalists. Standen has been a producer on Pulse of the Planet, editor of Terrain Magazine, an editor at Salon and a roving reporter for KALW’s Philosophy Talk.


Dani Shapiro is the best-selling author of the memoirs, Slow Motion and Devotion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Granta, and has been widely anthologized. She has taught in writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School, and Wesleyan University, and she is the co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. Shapiro is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure. Her newest book is Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, in which she reflects on over twenty years of writing life.

Ayelet Waldman is the author of several books, including Red Hook Road and the best-selling Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. She is the co-editor of Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons, and she has published several essays and profiles in The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She has also appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “The California Report.” Her forthcoming Love and Treasure, tells the tragic story of an abandoned Hungarian gold train in World War II.


Tony Kushner is the writer of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Known for “tackling the most difficult subjects in contemporary history” (New Yorker), Kushner’s other plays include A Bright Room Called Day, Slavis!, Hydrataphia, Homebody/Kabul and Caroline, or Change, the musical for which he wrote book and lyrics, with music by composer Jeanine Tesori. He wrote screenplays for Steven Spielberg’s Munich and the 2003 film adaptation of Angels in America. In 2012, he wrote the screenplay for Spielberg’s Lincoln, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and won the New York Film Critics Award, Chicago Film Critics Award, as well as others. Kushner is the recipient of many other awards, including an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, and he is the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the largest theater award in the US. His recent work includes a collection of one-act plays entitled Tiny Kushner, and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.


Proclaimed “one of the greatest singers of all time” by The New York Times, Darlene Love has been singing for over fifty years. She began in the sixties, singing lead on Phil Spector-produced hits such as “He’s a Rebel,” “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” and the seasonal classic “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.” She sang background vocals on numerous hits, including the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and Tina Turner’s “River Deep–Mountain High.” Love joined Dionne Warwick in the seventies, singing backup for her on records and on tour, and on Warwick’s TV show Solid Gold. Darlene Love has appeared on Broadway (Leader of the Pack, Hairspray), in numerous films, and on countless soundtracks. She began recording under her own name and released a holiday album in 2007 titled It’s Christmas Of Course. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2013, she was featured in Twenty Feet From Stardom, a documentary about the world of backup singers, and released a memoir, My Name is Love.


International bestseller Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland. He is a writer of  books on love, travel, architecture, and literature, with a style described as “philosophy of everyday life.” His first book, Essays in Love, published when he was twenty-three, and was followed with How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Architecture of Happiness, Religion for Atheists, Art as Therapy, and many more. His newest book, The News: A User’s Manual is a thought-provoking look at the manic and peculiar position that news has achieved in our lives.

Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986, having written a variety of fiction, humor, book reviews, profiles, and more than a hundred stories for “The Talk of the Town” and “Comment.” With a background in Art History and a sophisticated perspective on culture, he is a trusted and popular voice on many subjects. His novels include, Paris to the Moon, High & Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture, The King in the Window, and Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York.


Author Kelly Corrigan is a New York Times bestseller, whose explorations of family life and parenthood have brought her to the forefront of new American writers. Her first book, a memoir called The Middle Place, recounts her father’s and her own battle with cancer.  She is the founder of Circus of Cancer, a how-to web site for friends and family of women with breast cancer, and Notes and Words, an annual benefit concert for the Oakland Children’s Hospital featuring authors and top recording artists. Her essays and articles have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Glamour. Her other nonfiction books are Lift, and her newest, Glitter & Glue.

Anna Quindlen is an author, journalist, and opinion columnist whose New York Times column, “Public and Private,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1992. She has written five bestselling novels, three of which have been made into movies, including One True Thing starring Meryl Streep. She has also written several nonfiction books (Living Out LoudThinking Out Loud) and children’s books, and has won many awards. Her new memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, celebrates her life and the lives of women and womanhood.


B.J. Novak is an actor, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, and director. Novak worked on the television series The Office, first as a writer and co-executive producer, and later as an actor.  Novak’s other television and film credits include Saving Mr. Banks, Inglourious Basterds, and the TV series The Mindy Project.  Novak’s new book is One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.  Naturally, the stories are quite funny.  They also showcase Novak’s astonishing range and genuine curiosity, drawing comparisons to David Sedaris, Steve Martin and George Saunders.  Novak will talk about the collection with Paul Lancour.

Anjelica Huston

Academy Award-winning actress and director Anjelica Huston has received numerous honors for a career that spans several decades. Among her most well-known films are Prizzi’s Honor, Enemies: a Love Story, The Grifters, The Addams Family, and The Witches. Huston has collaborated with Wes Anderson in films such as The Darjeeling Limited and The Royal Tenenbaums, and she currently stars on the NBC drama Smash. The first of Huston’s two-part memoir, A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York, depicts her early life as a storyteller, model and actress in the 60s and 70s. The second part of her story, Watch Me (Fall 2014), opens on her Hollywood career in 1973.

Note: $37 tickets include VIP seating and signed copy of the memoir A Story Told Lately

Marc Maron

For over fifteen years, Marc Maron has been writing and performing raw, honest and thought-provoking comedy for print, stage, radio and television.  A legend in the stand-up community, he has appeared on Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and numerous other programs including Conan O’Brien on which he has appeared more than any other comedian (47 times so far).  This past year, Maron published his second book, Attempting Normal.  His CDs include Not Sold Out, Tickets Still Available, Final Engagement, and This Has To Be Funny Maron’s podcast WTF with Marc Maron, featuring compelling monologues and in-depth interviews with iconic personalities such as Conan O’Brien, Louis CK, Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, and Judd Apatow, premiered in September 2009 and is a worldwide phenomenon with over 53 million downloads and counting.  Select WTF air on public radio stations across the US.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and moved to Rhode Island as a young child with her Bengali parents.  Although they have lived in the United States for more than thirty years, Lahiri observes that her parents retain “a sense of emotional exile” and Lahiri herself grew up with “conflicting expectations…to be Indian by Indians and American by Americans.” Lahiri’s abilities to convey the oldest cultural conflicts in the most immediate fashion and to achieve the voices of many different characters are among the unique qualities that have captured the attention of a wide audience.  Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for Interpreter of Maladies, her debut story collection that explores issues of love and identity among immigrants and cultural transplants.  Her novel The Namesake, also published to great acclaim, expands on the perplexities of the immigrant experience.  Her newest book, The Lowland, is a story of brothers born just fifteen months apart but opposite in nearly every way.   Set in both India and America, the powerful story weaves together political and personal histories.


Peter L. Stein is a San Francisco-based arts producer and a Peabody Award-winning documentary maker. He spent 11 years as Executive Producer at PBS station KQED and was Executive Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest and largest of its kind in the world. He now writes and produces film, media and performing arts projects, and is a frequent onstage interviewer and film presenter.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Handmaid’s Tale, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, and The Blind AssassinHer non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008.  Atwood has won numerous awards for a prolific output that spans nearly every literary discipline; she has published fifteen books of poetry, four collections of stories and three collections of unclassifiable short prose works.  In 2004 Atwood co-invented the Long Pen TM, a remote signing device.  Atwood’s most recent book, MaddAddam, is the third and final installment in a dystopian trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood.

Amy Tan

Born in the US to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are  The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, and numerous articles. Ms. Tan also wrote the libretto for The Bonesetter’s Daughter, which had its world premiere in September 2008 with the San Francisco Opera. Prior to their disbanding, she served as lead rhythm dominatrix, backup singer, and second tambourine with the literary garage band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose members included Stephen King, Dave Barry, and Scott Turow. Her newest novel, The Valley of Amazement, moves between the dazzling world of courtesans in turn-of-the-century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of nineteenth-century San Francisco.

Mary Roach

Mary Roach is the author of five books: “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void,” “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex”, “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife,” “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” and most recently “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.” Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. Steven Pinker writes that “fans of lively writing will be delighted by [Gulp.] Once again Roach boldly goes where no author has gone before, into the sciences of the taboo, the macabre, the icky, and the just plain weird. And she conveys it all with a perfect touch: warm, lucid, wry, sharing the unavoidable amusement without ever resorting to the cheap or the obvious.”

Linda Ronstadt

One of the most iconic artists of our time, Linda Ronstadt has sold more than 100 million records, won numerous awards, and toured all over the world. Born into a musical family, her childhood was filled with everything from Hank Williams to Gilbert and Sullivan, Mexican folk music to jazz and opera. Her forthcoming memoir, “Simple Dreams,” tells the story of her early artistic curiosity and the wide-ranging and utterly unique career it led to. Ronstadt arrived in Los Angeles just as the folk-rock movement was beginning to bloom, setting the stage for the development of country-rock. After the dissolution of her first band, the Stone Poneys, Linda went out on her own and quickly found success. As part of the coterie of like-minded artists who played at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, she helped define the musical style that dominated American music in the 1970s. One of her early back-up bands went on to become the Eagles, and Linda would become the most successful female artist of the decade.

Marina Abramović

Born in Yugoslavia, Marina Abramović is a pioneer in the world of performance art. Throughout a career that has spanned five decades, her body has been both her subject and her medium. In early works like Rhythm 10, her very first performance, Abramović played a Russian game in which one rhythmically jabs a knife in between splayed fingers. She recorded the process and repeated it exactly, even including instances where she cut herself. The experience led her to consider the performers’ consciousness, and that theme, along with bodily pain, physical limitations and intentions, and the relationship between artist and audience are formative elements in all her work. In 2010, she was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York entitled “The Artist is Present.” A team of trained artists were enlisted to “play” Abramović in various past performance roles, while Abramović herself sat at a small table where visitors to the museum waited turns to sit across from her. Her life, and that exhibit in particular, were portrayed in the feature length documentary, “Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present” which made its premiere in January 2012 at the Sundance Film Festival. The Marina Abramović Institute was founded by Marina Abramović and will serve as her legacy and homage to time-based and immaterial art.

David Simon & David Chang

David Simon is a journalist, author, and the creator of the television shows The Wire, Homicide, and most recently, Treme. As a crime reporter at The Baltimore Sun, Simon authored countless articles and two books, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. Based on a year Simon spent embedded with the city homicide squad, Homicide provided the basis of the NBC drama of the same name. The Wire, which aired for five seasons on HBO, made Simon a pop culture icon. The show presents a dystopic vision of an American city, Baltimore, through a portrait of its most endemic problems: gangs, drugs, broken education and political systems, and a corrupt and incompetent news media. His most recent show, Treme, takes place is post-Katrina New Orleans.  Simon has contributed to Lucky Peach magazine.

David Chang is the executive chef and owner of five restaurants, including Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Momofuku Ko, Milk Bar, and Má Pêche, all in New York City and Momofuku Seiōbo in Sydney, Australia.  A three-time James Beard Foundation winner, Chang has two Michelin stars and numerous accolades including GQ’s “Man of the Year.”  But it’s a devoted following that encompasses serious eaters – many of them chefs themselves – smitten critics, and celebrities that makes the restaurants phenomenally successful and the chef himself a rockstar in the culinary world.  His publications include Momofuku, a cookbook, and a quarterly print journal with Peter Meehan called Lucky Peach (McSweeney’s).

Adam Savage & John Hodgman

Adam Savage is an industrial special effects designer, and actor.  His multifarious talents, and quirky mix of artistic, theater-design and mechanical skills led him to work as an industrial special effects designer for many film and television endeavors, including George Lucas’ Star Wars, Episodes 1 and 2, A.I., Terminator 3, and over a dozen commercials.  He also headed a start-up toy company overseeing product development, merchandising and package design.  In 2002, Adam moved in front of the camera to appear as co-host of The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters where he showcases his exceptional problem-solving skills and infectious sense of curiosity.

John Hodgman is a humorist, author, and television personality. Hodgman’s acting career includes regular appearances as the “resident expert” on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and as the “Personal Computer”—a personification of a PC—in a series of Apple commercials. Hodgman has authored a satirical trilogy of books, The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All. In the books, which are presented as factual almanacs but contain almost no actual facts, Hodgman covers topics including the Loch Ness Monster, the nine U.S. presidents who had hooks for hands, and hermit crab racing.

Fran Lebowitz

As a satirist, Fran Lebowitz is considered heir to the crown of Dorothy Parker. Her writing offers insights on timely issues such as gender, race, gay rights, and the media as well as her own pet peeves—including celebrity culture, tourists and strollers. Her unapologetically opinionated prose has been featured in Interview and Mademoiselle and in the collections Metropolitan Life, Social Studies, and The Fran Lebowitz Reader. She is also the author of the children’s book, Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas, and a novel, Exterior Signs of Wealth. A documentary film about Lebowitz, Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese, premiered on HBO in November 2010.


The New Yorker: An Evening with David Remnick

David Remnick is an award-winning journalist, best-selling author, and the editor of The New Yorker magazine. Before he joined The New Yorker in 1998, Remnick was a reporter and the Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post. He is the author of several works of non-fiction, including Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero. His most recent book, The Bridge, is a meticulously researched account of Obama’s historic election. Based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews, the book offers a richly detailed narrative about the president’s life, work, and the complexities of race in American politics.


Michael Lewis

Last year, Michael Lewis spent six months with President Obama.  Lewis turned that unprecedented access – in the Oval Office, on the basketball court, and even in the private quarters of the White House – into a fascinating and intimate portrait for Vanity Fair magazine.  A contributing editor to the magazine, Lewis is known for meticulous research on far reaching subjects.  His most recent book, Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour, chronicles the fiscal recklessness in both Europe and the U.S. that led to the current international debt crisis.  Past works include Liars Poker, a semi-autobiographical account of Wall Street traders and salesmen, the bestseller- -turned-Hollywood-blockbuster The Blind Side, Moneyball, about Oakland A’s manager Billy Bean, and The Big Short, about the housing and credit crisis of the 2000’s.


The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s longest war to reveal its profound human rights implications. Eugene Jarecki (director) is an award-winning filmmaker, public thinker, and author. “The House I Live In,” Jarecki’s ninth film, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.



Garrison Keillor revitalized radio in 1974 with the intimate and eclectic public radio program, A Prairie Home Companion. The weekly broadcasts showcase Keillor’s gifts as a writer, storyteller, producer, and performer, and are listened to by over four million Americans. With rich and meandering reports of the life and times of the fictitious Midwestern town, Lake Wobegon, A Prairie Home Companion features comedy sketches, music, and Keillor’s signature monologue. The prolific Keillor is the author of Lake Wobegon Days, Liberty, Pontoon, and Pilgrims. Keillor is a longtime advocate for poetry, which he spotlights on his daily radio broadcast, The Writer’s Almanac. He is also the editor of the poetry anthologies Good Poems, Good Poems for Hard Times, and Good Poems, American Places.

Humorist and long-time New Yorker staff writer Calvin Trillin, is a beloved chronicler of culture. Though his writing about food began as comic relief from his more serious pieces, it has earned him a dedicated readership and has been collected in three books including American Fried, Alice Let’s Eat, and Third Helpings. Trillin’s other works include Messages From My Father; Remembering Denny, and About Alice. His most recent book is, Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse.

Peter Duchin has performed as a pianist and bandleader for presidents and in high society for more than four decades. Starting with a residency at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 1962, Duchin and his band have traveled the world and released dozens of recordings in the traditional dance band style made popular by his father, the pianist Eddy Duchin. Ghost of a Chance, a memoir of Duchin’s life in music and his relationship with his father, was published in 1996. The book has been praised by many of Duchin’s longtime friends, including Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Gay Talese.


Alison Bechdel is the author of two bestselling graphic memoirs, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which won an Eisner Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama. For 25 years, she wrote and drew the popular comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, a visual chronicle of modern life, queer and otherwise. Bechdel has also been an editor of the Best American Comics series and has drawn comics for Slate, McSweeney’s, Entertainment Weekly, Granta, and The New York Times Book Review.

Julia Bryan-Wilson is associate professor in the Department of History of Art at UC Berkeley, where she teaches courses on contemporary art and feminist/queer theory. She is the author of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (2009), and is a frequent contributor to Artforum magazine.


Joyce Carol Oates is the author of some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller, The Falls. She is also the author of several critically acclaimed collections of short fiction and essays, plays, and poetry. Writing for The Nation, critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. said of her work, “A future archeologist equipped only with her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America.” Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University. The prolific Oates has mentored many other major writers. Her forthcoming novel is titled The Accursed.

Robert Hass is the former Poet Laureate of the United States. His works include Field Guide, Sun Under Wood, The Apple Trees at Olema, and Time and Materials, which won both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize.


Jamaica Kincaid is the author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction. Born in Antigua, the acclaimed writer first gained recognition for her “Talk of the Town” pieces and short stories published in The New Yorker in the late 1970s. She published her first book, At the Bottom of the River, a collection of short stories, in 1981. Her first novel, Annie John, was published four years later, and made her a literary sensation. Kincaid is also the author of Lucy, My Garden, and A Small Place, an indictment of tourism and colonialism. Her forthcoming novel, See Now Then—her first in ten years—is a tale of marriage and family that examines how the passing of time operates on the human consciousness.

Frances Phillips is program director for arts and the Creative Work Fund at the Walter and Elise Haas Fund in San Francisco. She is the author of three small press books, co-editor of the Grantmakers in the Arts Reader, and former poetry review editor for The Hungry Mind Review.


Former Vice President Al Gore spends the majority of his time as chairman of The Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives four times, the U.S. Senate twice, and served eight years as Vice President under the Clinton presidency. He is the author of the bestselling books Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth, The Assault on Reason, and Our Choice. Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management and Current TV, as well as a senior partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a member of Apple Inc.’s board of directors. He is a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Barbara Kingsolver is the award-winning author of The Bean Trees, Homeland, The Poisonwood Bible, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Her most recent novel, Flight Behavior, is the story of a woman’s life in turmoil set against the backdrop of ecological degradation and climate change.


Jared Diamond is a devoted conservationist, a professor of geography at UCLA, and the celebrated author of Why is Sex Fun?, The Third Chimpanzee, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and Guns, Germs, and Steel, winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. In his forthcoming book, The World Until Yesterday, Diamond draws on his own four decades of fieldwork in New Guinea and adjacent Pacific islands, and asks what can be learned from “traditional” societies that will improve the way we live and the world we live in.

Roy Eisenhardt practiced law for twelve years and currently teaches sports law at Bolt. He was President of the Oakland Athletics and served as the Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences. Some of his numerous interviews include Stephen King, Gene Wilder, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Desmond Tutu.


The late Harold Pinter’s writing career spanned more than fifty years. One of the most influential and controversial modern dramatists, Pinter wrote more than twenty-nine plays and some twenty-one screenplays. His plays include Betrayal, No Man’s Land, Old Times, The Caretaker, The Birthday Party, A Kind of Alaska, and the Tony Award-winning The Homecoming. Pinter was also a noted director, actor, poet, and political activist.

Julian Sands has worked in radio, television, theatre, and in over a hundred films —including The Killing Fields, Room With a View, Boxing Helena, Leaving Las Vegas, Arachnophobia, Oceans 13, and Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. Sands and John Malkovich first presented A Celebration of Harold Pinter at The Edinburgh Festival in 2011. He has since performed the original piece in London, Paris, Poznan, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.

An Academy Award-nominated actor, John Malkovich directed Broadway revivals of The Caretaker and Arms and the Man, and won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and OBIE awards for his direction of Balm in Gilead. He is a founding member of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. He has also appeared in the films The Killing Fields, Dangerous Liaisons, Of Mice and Men, Empire of the Sun, and Red. His New York stage credits include Burn This, Death of a Salesman, and True West.

The Science of Love & Attraction with Helen Fisher

Helen E. Fisher, PhD biological anthropologist, is a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. Fisher maintains that humans have evolved three core brain systems for mating and reproduction. “Love can start off with any of these three feelings,” Fisher maintains. “Some people fall head over heels in love, but the sex drive evolved to encourage you to seek a range of partners; romantic love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time; and attachment evolved to enable you to feel deep union to this person long enough to rear your infants as a team.” What happens when you fall in love?

The Social Network Effect with Nicholas Carr

How are our virtual social worlds changing our capacity to relate and communicate with one another in the physical world? 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist Nicholas Carr posed the question “Is Google making us stupid?” in a celebrated Atlantic essay that tapped into the popular question of how the Internet is changing our brains. Carr discusses how the Internet encourages the rapid sampling of small bits of information from many sources and how it is literally remaking us in its own image.

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.  After the sudden death of her mother when Strayed was in her early twenties, her world fell apart. “I was living alone in a studio apartment in Minneapolis, separated from my husband and working as a waitress, as low and mixed-up as I’d ever been,” she writes. Desperate to escape her situation and find what she calls “radical aloneness,” Stayed set out in the summer of 1995 at the age of 26 to hike from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. What she found was an ability to navigate not only the dangerous physical challenges of the Pacific Coast Trail, but the world.  Strayed is also the author of the novel Torch and her stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazine and journals, including The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Self, and The Sun.  Her latest book, Tiny Beautiful Things, is a compilation of her Dear Sugar columns from The Rumpus.

Vendela Vida is the author of the critically acclaimed novels And Now You Can Go, Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name, Girls on the Verge, and most recently The Lovers. Vida is a co-founder of The Believer and 826 Valencia. She also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2009 film Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Dave Eggers & Kevin Powers

We regret that Zadie Smith has cancelled her January 16 appearance. Her doctor has advised that she not travel in the last months of her pregnancy. If you are holding tickets for the Zadie Smith & Dave Eggers program, they are valid for the January 16 program with Dave Eggers & Kevin Powers. If you would like to exchange your tickets for another upcoming CA&L program, return your tickets for a tax-deductible donation to CA&L, or request a refund, please call City Box Office (415-392-4400) by December 14.

Dave Eggers is the author of six books, including Zeitoun, What Is the What, and You Shall Know Our Velocity. In 2000, Eggers made his literary debut with his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The deeply personal story of family tragedy, post-adolescent ennui, and generational identity was critically praised and enormously popular. His most recent book, A Hologram for the King, about outsourcing and middle-class struggles, features Eggers’ remarkable talents for story telling, humor, and allegory. Eggers is founder and editor of McSweeney’s and co-founder of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth started in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2002 now with branches in over seven cities nationwide.

Kevin Powers joined the army at the age of 17, later serving a year as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005. After his honorable discharge he enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University and later earned an M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. His first novel, The Yellow Birds, was nominated for a 2012 National Book Award. Called “brilliantly observed and deeply affecting” by The New York Times, the novel tells the story of a young soldier coming of age on the battlefield in Iraq. It is a story of loss of innocence, friendship, and the immeasurable cost of war.

Malcolm Gladwell & Adam Gopnik

The author of four books and numerous New Yorker articles, Malcolm Gladwell brings astute observations and graceful prose to contemporary issues of sociology, psychology and culture.  As a staff writer at the New Yorker, Gladwell has examined topics ranging from cultural behaviors and trends to business leaders and practices.  His books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers all deal with human behavior and its cultural implications.  The best sellers showcase Gladwell’s knack for unearthing surprising truths beneath the surface of seemingly mundane topics.

Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. His background in Art History and broad and sophisticated perspective on culture make him a frequent and popular voice on many subjects.  He has written fiction and humor pieces, book reviews, profiles, reporting pieces, and more than a hundred stories for “The Talk of the Town” and “Comment.” His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include Paris to the Moon, Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, and The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, and Winter: Five Windows on the Season.


Nick Hornby

British writer Nick Hornby made his debut in 1992 with the autobiographical Fever Pitch, which chronicled his adventures as an obsessed fan of the Arsenal Football Club. Since then, Hornby has written four other books of nonfiction, including numerous articles and critical pieces, and seven novels, including High Fidelity and About a Boy—both made into major motion pictures. Hornby also wrote the screenplay for the widely acclaimed 2009 film, An Education. His forthcoming book, More Baths, Less Talking is a collection of Hornby’s long-running column for The Believer magazine, “Stuff I’ve Been Reading.” In the column, Hornby writes about books he bought and what he had read that month—often two completely different lists. The collection is a not just a witty tour of the author’s reading life, but a guide on how and what to read. “Read what you enjoy, not what bores you,” he writes.


Judson True received his Master of Journalism from UC Berkeley before beginning a career in San Francisco government. A former spokesman for Muni, he now serves as a legislative aide for Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. His previous interview for City Arts & Lectures include Joan Didion, David Remnick and Gene Wilder.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Sandra Cisneros

Acclaimed poet and novelist Sandra Cisneros first gained recognition in 1984 for her debut novel, The House on Mango Street. A coming-of-age story about a young Latina growing up in Chicago, the novel dealt with Chicana identity and the straddling of Mexican and Anglo-American cultures. The recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award, and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation, Cisneros has published works including the novel Caramelo; a collection of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek; two books of poetry, My Wicked Ways and Loose Woman; and a children’s book, Hairs/Pelitos. Cisneros is the founder of the Macondo Foundation, an association of writers united to aid underserved communities and is Writer in Residence at Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio. Her forthcoming book, Have You Seen Marie?, tells the story of a woman’s search for a cat who goes missing in the days after the death of the narrator’s mother. Richly illustrated by Ester Hernandez, it is a tale of loss, grief, and healing.

Ester Hernandez is an internationally acclaimed visual artist whose work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Library of Congress, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. She lives in San Francisco.

Michael Krasny is the host of the KQED radio program Forum. He is also a professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Spiritual Envy: an Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many interviews for City Arts & Lectures include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, and Brian Greene.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

David Byrne & Bernie Krause

Best known as a founding member of the pioneering rock band Talking Heads, David Byrne is one of music’s most iconoclastic heroes, as well as a major contributor to visual, cinematic, and literary culture.  Throughout his music career, Byrne’s idiosyncratic tastes and talents have tapped into punk, pop, foreign and digital domains.  And alongside his groundbreaking music, Byrne has contributed uniquely thought-provoking work as an author, filmmaker, conservationist, bicycle advocate, and urban designer.  His forthcoming book, How Music Matters, is a fascinating survey of contemporary music and culture with an historical perspective.  Drawing on his own experiences with Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and his myriad collaborators, Byrne writes elegantly about the power of music to transform and liberate and offers astute analysis of how the industry has changed.  The reader can hear the fresh voice of David Byrne the performer and follow the thinking of Byrne the artist, composer and public intellectual.

Bernie Krause first came to public attention when he replaced Pete Seeger in The Weavers during the group’s final year, but it is his ground-breaking work with the synthesizer that most profoundly effected the music industry. Alongside his passion for electronic music, Krause has found inspiration in the sounds of nature. In 1968/1969, he and musical partner Paul Beaver were the first to incorporate natural soundscapes into pop/orchestral music on their album In A Wild Sanctuary. Since then, Krause has become a “sonic ecologist” recording over 15,000 species. He is the author of The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is a poet, author, filmmaker, comedian, and avid basketball player. Born and raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, Alexie writes on themes of poverty, alcoholism, and hardship among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest with insight and humor. He is the author of twenty-two books, including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature; War Dances; and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.  Alexie is also the author and co-producer of the widely acclaimed film, Smoke Signals, which won the Audience Award and Filmmakers’ Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His new book, Blasphemy, is a collection of short stories that includes some of his most well known tales, including “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” as well as 15 previously unpublished pieces. Alexie is a board member at Longhouse Media, a non-profit committed to teaching filmmaking to Native American Youth. He has long been a dedicated advocate of programs and initiatives focused on helping at-risk Native American youth.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is a start-up angel investor, blogger, and entrepreneur. He is best-known for his first book The 4-Hour Workweek, a how-to-guide about outsourcing work and other aspects of life.  Called “a Twitter-age savant,” who has “made a career of teaching readers how to achieve personal goals using the least amount of time and effort,” by The New York Times, Ferriss followed-up on the phenomenal international success of that debut with The 4-Hour Body.  That book combines the advice of athletes and doctors with personal experimentation to outline a lifestyle plan that aims to elevate metabolism and overall strength and even train the body to function well on two hours sleep per day.  Ferriss is a guest lecturer at Princeton University, where he has spoken on high-tech entrepreneurship since 2003.  His newest book, The 4-Hour Chef, includes recipes based on his nutritional and time-saving philosophy.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Life After Murder

Life After Murder

City Arts & Lectures presents an evening investigating murder, social justice, and the concept of redemption.  Award-winning journalist Nancy Mullane and former San Quentin inmates and murderers will offer a glimpse into the lives of convicted killers who have done their time and are now struggling to live on the outside again.  Mullane’s book, Life After Murder, follows five convicted murderers sentenced to life with the possibility of parole in their struggle for redemption, their legal battles to make good on the state’s promise of parole, and the lives they encounter after so many years inside. Can a murderer be redeemed? Who do they become after serving decades in prison? What does it take for a killer to be accepted back into society? Between 2000 and 2009, 57,000 people convicted of first or second-degree murder were released from state and federal prisons; their stories are both compelling and important.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem is the author of eight novels including Chronic City, You Don’t Love Me Yet, and The Fortress of Solitude.  Lethem is one of the more prolific among a generation of young, dynamic writers, and his tastes and literary output range from science fiction to the hard-boiled novel, westerns, music writing and academic essays.  His book Motherless Brooklyn, which transpires in the mind of a man with Tourette’s Syndrome, won The National Book Critics Circle Award and brought Lethem to the attention of a wide and appreciative audience.  His recent volume, The Ecstasy of Influence, is a collection of essays that shed light on topics ranging from sex in cinema to drugs, graffiti, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, 9/11, book touring, and Marlon Brando. Lethem’s essays and stories have also appeared in Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, among others.

Robert Mailer Anderson is author of the novel Boonville and co-writer/producer of the film Pig Hunt.   At age fifteen, he began contributing to the upstart Anderson Valley Advertiser, where his uncle Bruce is editor and publisher.  He has contributed to a variety of other publications, including Christopher Street, after which Jonathan Lethem dubbed him “the heterosexual voice of gay lit.”  He has four children and is a board member of SFJAZZ.

Please note new 7:30pm start time.

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.  Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century.  Reich has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and most recently, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future. He is Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause and is familiar to many as a frequent commentator for Marketplace on National Public Radio and for his syndicated columns and television appearances.


Roy Eisenhardt practiced law for twelve years in San Francisco and taught at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He was President of the Oakland Athletics and served as the Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences. Some of his numerous interviews for City Arts & Lectures include those with Stephen King, Gene Wilder, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Desmond Tutu, and David Remnick.


Roz Chast

Cartoonist Roz Chast is a brilliant interpreter of the everyday.  Her cartoons depict neuroses, hilarity, angst and domesticity and more than 1000 of them have appeared in The New Yorker since 1978 (editor David Remnick has called her “the magazine’s only certifiable genius.”) Nine collections have been published of Chast’s work, including the newest,Theories of Everything.  Chast recently collaborated with Steve Martin on the children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! and last Fall she published What I Hate: From A – Z.  Her cartoons have also been published in Scientific American, the Harvard Business Review, Redbook, and Mother Jones. 


Lisa Brown became a New York Times bestseller by illustrating The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket, to whom she is allegedly married. Her other less-bestselling-but-still-worth-something books include How to Be, Vampire Boy’s Good NightBaby Mix Me A Drink and, with author Adele Griffin, Picture the Dead, an illustrated ghost story for young folks. She sporadically draws The Three Panel Book Review comic strip for the San Francisco Chronicle.


Terry Tempest Williams

A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, Terry Tempest Williams has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice.  She is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge:  An Unnatural History of Family and Place, and many other works of impassioned and lyrical prose, including Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, and The Open Space of Democracy. Her newest book is When Women Were Birds.  After discovering that her mother had kept journals, Williams was shocked to find that the cloth-bound books lining shelf after shelf were blank.    When Women Were Birds is a graceful and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother’s journals and the question of what it means to have a voice.

Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine and National Public Radio’s Radio Lab, and the author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist.  His newest book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, shatters the myths of muses and “creative types” and argues that creativity is instead a variety of distinct thought processes that anyone can learn to use effectively.  Praising that work, Malcolm Gladwell says “[Lehrer] knows more about science than a lot of scientists and more about writing than a lot of writers.”  Lehrer holds a degree in neuroscience, and a Masters Degree in 20th century literature and philosophy. He has written for The New Yorker, Nature, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Daniel Schifrin is writer-in-residence at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, and co-host of its podcast series The Space Between. His articles and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and McSweeney’s. Schifrin is at work on a novel called The Garbage Guru.


Sally Mann

Sally Mann is one of America’s most renowned photographers, best known for her large-scale black and white photographs of her family as well as her more recent epic landscapes. She has received numerous awards, including National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Guggenheim Foundation grants. Her many books include Immediate FamilyWhat Remains, and Deep South. In her 2009 collection, Proud Flesh, Mann photographed her husband of 39 years and the beautiful and haunting images reveal a profoundly trusting relationship between a man and a woman. Her most recent publication, The Flesh and the Spirit, is her first in-depth study of the human body. It includes platinum prints from the 1970s, early images of her family, recent self-portraits, as well as nude studies of her husband. A feature film about Mann’s work, What Remains, debuted to critical acclaim in 2006. She lives in Lexington, Virginia.

Calvin Trillin

Journalist, humorist, and devoted eater Calvin Trillin, is a most beloved chronicler of culture. His long association with The New Yorker Magazine began in 1963 with his U.S. Journal articles, compiled as he traveled the country, searching for obscure stories and developing a taste for regional delicacies. Though his writing about food began as comic relief from his more serious pieces, it has earned him a dedicated readership and has been collected in three books including American Fried, Alice Let’s Eat, and Third Helpings. Trillin’s other works include Messages From My Father; Remembering Denny, and About Alice, a touching book about his late wife who was his muse and best friend.  The recently published humor collection Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin covers a wide range of subjects from a voodoo economics ceremony to the mystery of how his mother managed to feed her family nothing but leftovers for more than thirty years. As “deadline poet” for The Nation, Trillin analyzes current events in verse form.  Calvin Trillin is also a board member of City Arts & Lectures.

* Note:  Premium tickets (including pre-performance dinner with Calvin Trillin at the Hayes Street Grill) are sold out.

Woody Allen’s “THE KUGELMASS EPISODE” Performed by the Word for Word Performing Arts Company

City Arts & Lectures is proud to present a theatrical version of Woody Allen’s classic short story “The Kugelmass Episode.”  The work will be performed by Word for Word Performing Arts Company by special permission from Woody Allen.  First published in the New Yorker in 1977, the eccentric fable follows Professor Kugelmass, unhappily married and hankering for an affair.  When a magician transports him into Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Kugelmass decides to bring Emma Bovary out of the book and into his New York life.  The spoiled Bovary proves too much to handle.

Word for Word Performing Arts Company is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction.  They last collaborated with City Arts & Lectures on a performance of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King.

Richard Misrach

One of the most influential photographers of his generation, Richard Misrach embraces new techniques and his profound social conscience has produced a body of work of remarkable breadth and meaning.  In the 1970’s, Misrach helped pioneer the renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation that are in widespread practice today.  Among his most notable projects are his documentation of the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River known as Cancer Alley, the study of weather, time, color and light in his serial photographs of the Golden Gate, and On the Beach, an aerial perspective of human interaction and isolation.  Recently, he built a powerful narrative out of images of graffiti produced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and in fall 2011, the series “Oakland Fire” was presented at the Berkeley Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, concurrently.  Misrach has had one-person exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, amongst others.

Steven Winn is a freelance writer and critic who spent 28 years at the San Francisco Chronicle, the last six as the paper’s Arts and Culture Critic. His work has appeared in California, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated and other publications. His memoir, Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog, was published in 2009.

The Art of Fielding with Chad Harbach

Named one the top 10 Books of 2011 by The New York Times, Chad Harbach’s debut novel The Art of Fielding is smart, touching and deftly written.  Set at a fictional mid-western college, the novel centers around Henry Skrimshander, a virtuosic shortstop whose almost magical talents suddenly disappear.  Harbach’s expert knowledge of baseball produces a riveting portrait of the sport, but the book transcends the genre as it investigates several characters; struggles to forge identity and find connections to one another.  One of the most critically acclaimed books of the year, The Art of Fielding has received fervent praise among fellow writers.  Says Jonathan Franzen (Freedom, The Corrections), “First novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom.”  Scott Rudin will produce the HBO version of the book.  Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin and was educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia.  He is a co-founder and coeditor of the literary journal n+1.

Steven Winn is a freelance writer and critic who spent 28 years at the San Francisco Chronicle, the last six as the paper’s Arts and Culture Critic. His work has appeared in California, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated and other publications. His memoir, Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog, was published in 2009.

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. His books include Living in the End Times, In Defense of Lost Causes, and four volumes of the Essential Žižek. The forthcoming God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse is a brilliant dissection and reconstruction of Christianity, Islam, and Judiasm where, along with co-author Boris Gunjévic, Žižek employs Hegelian and Lacanian analysis to show how each faith understands humanity and divinity — and how the differences between them may be far stranger than they may at first seem.  Last summer, the Marxist theorist even managed to bridge the gap between intellectual discourse and the gossip of the New York Post’s “Page Six” when it was reported that he and Lady Gaga spent time discussing feminism and collective human creativity.  The rumors were false, but Žižek’s popularity outside traditional academic circles is undeniable thanks to his interest in contemporary issues and keen sense of humor.   He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Anne Lamott & Sam Lamott

Anne Lamott is loved for her ability to write eloquently, gracefully, and often hilariously about complicated subjects. Described by the New York Times as “a narrator who has relished and soaked up the details of her existence, equally of mirth and devastation, and spilled them onto her pages,” Lamott has written on subjects ranging from alcoholism and single parenting to religion and writer’s block. She is the author of seven novels including Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), as well as five bestselling books of non-fiction: Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, a guide to writing and the challenges of a writer’s life;  Traveling Mercies, a collection of autobiographical essays on faith; and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. With her son, Sam Lamott, Anne recently co-authored the forthcoming book, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, which follows both her and Sam’s struggle to balance their changing roles with the demands of college and work.

Sam Lamott lives in San Francisco and is currently studying industrial design with a major in product design.

Michael Lewis

Before endeavoring to write his first book, Liars Poker, Michael Lewis sold bonds for the investment bank Solomon Brothers. The semi-autobiographical account of Wall Street traders and salesmen defined that financial era and put Lewis on the literary and business-world map. Since then, Lewis has turned meticulous research on far reaching subjects into eloquent and very readable non-fiction. The bestseller- -turned-Hollywood-blockbuster The Blindside is a touching portrait of football; Moneyball, recently adapted for the big screen, centers on Oakland A’s manager Billy Bean; the housing and credit crisis of the 2000’s is deftly chronicled in The Big Short; and Lewis examined his own parental experience in Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. In his most recent book, Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour, Lewis chronicles the fiscal recklessness in both Europe and the U.S. that led to the current international debt crisis.


Adam Savage is an industrial special effects designer, actor and co-host of The Discovery Channel series “Mythbusters.” His acting resume includes early work as voices for Sesame Street characters created by his father. Savage has also taught advance model making at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.  His past City Arts & Lectures interviews include Fred Armisen, Jamy Ian Swiss and David Pogue.

Maira Kalman & Daniel Handler

Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author, and designer celebrated for her unique delightful of politics and contemporary life.  A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, she is well-known for her collaboration with Rick Meyerwitz on the “New Yorkistan” cover in 2001.  She is also the creator of two monthly online columns for the New York Times: a narrative journal of her life called The Principles of Uncertainty (2006-07) and a year-long exploration of American history and democracy called And The Pursuit of Happiness (2009). Both columns are now collected in book form.  Kalman has designed clocks, umbrellas, and other accessories for the Museum of Modern Art, fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, and sets for the Mark Morris Dance Company.  She has written and illustrated thirteen children’s books, including Ooh-la-la-Max in Love, and What Pete Ate and her most recent books for young adults, 13 WORDS and Why We Broke Up, are collaborations with author Daniel Handler.

Under the pen name Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler is the author of the macabre collection of children’s novels, A Series of Unfortunate Events. The popular series-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster, follows the Baudelaire orphans as they navigate calamity after calamity. Under his given name, the native San Franciscan is the author of three novels: The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, and Adverbs.  Handler has worked intermittently in film and music, most recently in collaboration with composer Nathanial Stookey on a piece commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, entitled The Composer Is Dead, which has been performed all over the world. Among Handler’s remarkable talents is his skill on the accordion which he has played with Stephen Merritt and The Magnetic Fields among other groups. Handler has written for The New York Times, Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Chickfactor, and various anthologies.


Richard Louv is a journalist and author of eight books about the connections between family, nature and community. His newest book The Nature Principle, offers a vision of the future where lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology in order to promote better physical, psychological and spiritual health.  His previous book, Last Child in the Woods stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature. Louv coined the term “Nature-deficit Disorder” which has become the defining phrase of this important issue and he is the founding chairman of the Children & Nature Network, an organization helping to connect today’s children and future generations to the natural world. Louv has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London, and other major publications.

DAWN SCOTT earned her MFA at the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver where she recently played Ophelia and Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Marianne in Tartuffe. Her San Francisco Bay Area credits include the roles in Beehive, After the Fall, and Blood Wedding. Ms. Scott works and practices at Spirit Rock, a dharma center dedicated to reconnecting humans to themselves, to nature, and to life itself through silence and mindful attention.


J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous contributions to genomic research. He is founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a not-for-profit dedicated to genomic research, the exploration of related social and ethical issues, and the creation of alternative energy solutions through genomics. In 1984, at the National Institutes of Health, Venter developed Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs), a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1992 he founded The Institute for Genomic Research. There he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism and have since sequenced hundreds of genomes using his techniques and tools. Venter’s team has even built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell thereby making what they call the world’s first synthetic life form. This achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life could be made to potentially benefit humanity.

THOMAS GOETZ is the executive editor of Wired magazine and author of The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine. A journalist for more than 15 years, Goetz has reported on media and business for the Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, and The Industry Standard. He holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

THE POWER OF GAMING with Dr. Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal directs game R&D at the Institute for the Future, the nonprofit forecasting firm where she developed Superstruct, a massive multiplayer game in which players organize society to solve for issues that will confront the world in 2019. MIT Technology Review named her one of the top 35 innovators changing the world through technology for her role in pioneering the field of alternate reality gaming. Harvard Business Review called her theory of “alternate reality business” one of the “Top 20 Breakthrough Ideas of 2008.” McGonigal’s previous projects include The Lost Ring, World Without Oil, Cruel 2 B Kind, and I Love Bees. In her most recent book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World, McGonigal discusses her belief that video games can be a positive platform for exploration and problem solving.

RYAN WYATT is the Director of the Morrison Planetarium and Science Visualization at the California Academy of Sciences where he co-wrote and directed the award winning show Fragile Planet and wrote and directed Life: A Cosmic Story. He is currently working on Earthquake which premieres this spring.

Jane Lynch

Actor Jane Lynch’s career includes an impressive body of theatrical work, guest spots on numerous television shows, and a slew of movie cameos. But it is her Emmy-award winning role on the popular program “Glee” that has recently brought her widespread and well-deserved attention. As the outrageously mean Sue Sylvester, Lynch richly exhibits her signature blend of wit and sly intelligence as well as her singing talents (fittingly, Lynch sang choir in high school). After studying classical theater at Illinois State and Cornell Universities, Lynch honed her comedic skills touring with the Second City troupe. For years she relied on that training for an array of small but memorable television parts, mostly on sitcoms, before landing the role of a lesbian dog trainer in Christopher Guest’s “Best In Show.” That wickedly funny performance led to more collaborations with Guest and launched her movie career (including The 40 Year Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, and Julie & Julia, among other films). Before joining Glee, Lynch played a cut-throat lawyer on The L Word from 2005-2009. Lynch’s memoir, Happy Accidents, shares her improbable path to success and contentment.

Steven Winn is a freelance writer and critic who spent 28 years at the San Francisco Chronicle, the last six as the paper’s Arts and Culture Critic. His work has appeared in California, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated and other publications. His memoir, Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog, was published in 2009.

Miranda July

Filmmaker, artist, and writer Miranda July, is known for her off beat and independent short films and performance art.  Her videos, performances, and web-based projects have been presented at sites such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and in two Whitney Biennials. In 2005, July starred in and directed her first feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival.  Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. She published her first collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You in 2007.  Of her work, Karen Durbin of The New York Times wrote: “At her most unnerving, Ms. July upends the rocklike surface of social norms to show us the creepy, crawly bits we keep hidden underneath. But more than anything, her fearless, often playful output suggests the freewheeling creativity of a child – an enviable quality that seldom survives.” Miranda July’s newest film, The Future, is the story of a couple whose lives and perspectives change radically after adopting a stray cat.

Julia Bryan-Wilson is associate professor in the Department of History of Art at UC Berkeley, where she teaches courses on contemporary art and feminist/queer theory.  She is the author of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (2009), and is a frequent contributor to Artforum magazine.

A Tribute to Joan Didion

Joan Didion appeared at City Arts & Lectures six times between 1996 and 2011.  In her last visit, recorded on November 15, 2011, she spoke with novelist Vendela Vida at the Herbst Theater shortly after the publication of Blue Nights.

A novelist, essayist and screenwriter, Joan Didion chronicled and shaped American culture for over four decades.  The prolific writer’s fiction includes Play It As It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, and The Last Thing He Wanted.  Her non-fiction, beginning with Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and continuing throughout her journalistic career exemplifies much of what “New Journalism” represents: a subjective approach to reporting that employs literary techniques.  The author’s inimitable voice was brought even further to the foreground with her best-selling memoirs The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights.

Writes Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times, “she has created, in her books, one of the most devastating and distinctive portraits of modern America to be found in fiction or nonfiction – a portrait of America where disorder was its own point.”

Joan Didion died in Manhattan on December 23, 2021, at the age of 87.

Vendela Vida is the author of the critically acclaimed novels And Now You Can Go, Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name, Girls on the Verge, The Lovers, and most recently, We Run The Tides. Vida is a co-founder of The Believer and 826 Valencia. She also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2009 film Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph.

Photo Credit: Brigitte Lacombe 

David Pogue

Technology writer David Pogue’s weekly contributions to The New York Times have garnered an audience beyond merely the tech-obsessed.  His clear prose and canny insights into the often-opaque world of computers and gadgets evince his ongoing curiosity in all things technological.  Pogue has authored seven books in the For Dummies series on subjects reflecting his diverse interests and knowledge including Macs, Magic, Opera, and Classical Music.  Pogue graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1985, with distinction in Music, and he spent ten years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals.  He has won an Emmy, a Loeb award for journalism, and an honorary doctorate in music.  In addition to his work for the Times and Scientific American, Pogue regularly appears on CNBC and hosted the NOVA miniseries on PBS “Making Stuff.”

Adam Savage is an industrial special effects designer, actor and co-host of The Discovery Channel series “Mythbusters.” His acting resume includes early work as voices for Sesame Street characters created by his father. Savage has also taught advance model making at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.  He has previously interviewed magician Jamy Ian Swiss and actor/musician Fred Armisen for City Arts & Lectures.

Ian Frazier

Ian Frazier is a humorist and author, well known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker.  Throughout his non-fiction work, including Family, Great Plains, and On The Rez, Frazier combines in-depth research into history and culture with engaging first-person narrative  His most recent best-selling book, Travels in Siberia, tells the story of Siberia’s most famous exiles, such as Dostoyevsky and Stalin, as well as the lesser-known individuals who hail from the storied expanse of Asiatic Russia.  The work – described as “endlessly fascinating….On the Road meets The Gulag Archipelago…” by the New York Times Book Review – reflects Frazier’s signature brand of humor.  His other books include Coyote v. Acme and Lamentations of the Father.

Jonathan Bass is a partner at the law firm of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP. Bass graduated cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Russian language and literature. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1977. He is a long-time advisor to City Arts & Lectures.

Colson Whitehead

Author Colson Whitehead takes on a multitude of issues with original wit and a rich imagination. In 1999, he burst onto the literary scene with his award-winning debut novel, The Intuitionist, which concerned the travails of Lila Mae Watson, the first black woman elevator inspector in New York City. His second novel, John Henry Days, followed in 2001 and was met with much critical acclaim. John Updike wrote in a New Yorker review that the novel “does what writing should do; it refreshes our sense of the world. . . . An ambitious, finely chiseled work.” Whitehead is also the author of The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays about his hometown, Apex Hides the Hurt, and Sag Harbor, a novel about teenagers hanging out on Long Island during the summer of 1985. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. A recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a MacArthur grant, and a fellowship at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. His forthcoming book, Zone One, is a zombie novel influenced by films Whitehead watched as a child.

Michael Krasny is the host of the KQED radio program Forum. He is also a Professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many interviews for City Arts & Lectures include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, and Isaac B. Singer.

Gabrielle Hamilton

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef and owner of Prune restaurant in New York City’s East Village.  Her book Blood, Bones, and Butter is an unconventional story about food, purpose, and family and marks the debut of a tremendous literary talent.  “Simply the best memoir by a chef ever,” writes Anthony Bourdain.   Hamilton received an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Michigan and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food & Wine. Her work has been anthologized in six volumes of Best Food Writing.

Kim Severson has been a staff writer for The New York Times since 2004.  After six years writing exclusively about food for the paper, she was named the Atlanta Bureau Chief in the fall of 2010. Before joining the Times, Severson spent six years at the San Francisco Chronicle writing about food.  Last year she published the memoir Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life.

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje’s artistry and aesthetic have influenced an entire generation of writers and readers.  Although he is best known for his transcendent novels, including The English Patient, Ondaatje’s work also encompasses poetry, memoir, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form.  Ondaatje himself is an interesting intersection of cultures: born in Sri Lanka of Indian/Dutch ancestry, he went to school in England, and then moved to Canada. His numerous accolades include the British Commonwealth’s highest honor and the Booker Prize. He also founded as well as edits the Toronto literary journal Brick.  Ondaatje’s much-anticipated forthcoming novel, The Cat’s Table, is a touching story – full of adventure and heartache – of a boy’s passage from Ceylon to England during the golden age of transoceanic voyaging.

Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon’s works include Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  His recent non-fiction includes Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son.  The forthcoming The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man is his first children’s book.

Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs is widely considered to be the leading international economic advisor of his generation.  For more than 20 years Professor Sachs has been in the forefront of addressing the challenges of economic development, poverty alleviation, and enlightened globalization. As Director of the Earth Institute, Sachs leads large-scale efforts to promote the mitigation of human-induced climate change.  Internationally renowned for his work with governments all over the world, Sachs is a special advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  He is author of hundreds of scholarly articles and many books, including the New York Times bestsellers Common Wealth and The End of Poverty.  In his newest book, The Price of Civilization, Sachs investigates the inadequacy of American-style capitalism in confronting modern challenges and offers an ambitious plan for renewal.

Roy Eisenhardt practiced law for twelve years in San Francisco and ha taught at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He was President of the Oakland Athletics and served as the Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences. Some of his numerous interviews for City Arts & Lectures include Stephen King, Gene Wilder, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Desmond Tutu, David Remnick and Isabella Rosselini.


Renée Fleming

Soprano Renée Fleming is one of the most celebrated classical singers of our time. With her compelling stage presence and remarkable voice, she has performed at the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls. She has sung in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian. Her signature roles include Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, Countess Rosina Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, and Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier among many others. A three-time Grammy winner for her classical contributions, Fleming is also a champion of new music.  She has performed works by a wide range of contemporary composers and in 2008, Fleming released the indie rock album, Dark Hope.  This fall, Ms. Fleming returns to the San Francisco Opera in the title role of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia.

Steven Winn is a freelance writer and critic who spent 28 years at the San Francisco Chronicle, the last six as the paper’s Arts and Culture Critic. His work has appeared in California, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated and other publications. His memoir, Come Back, Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog, was published in 2009.

Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder is a world-famous guitarist, singer, and composer.  A four-time Grammy winner known for his virtuosic slide guitar work, Cooder’s music spans an eclectic range of musical styles including country, folk, calypso, rock & roll, blues, reggae, Hawaiian, Dixieland jazz, R&B, gospel, and vaudeville.  Cooder played in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band and has accompanied Gordon Lightfoot, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, among many others. A pioneer in resurrecting world music traditions even before the concept was familiar to many, Cooder has brought attention and acclaim to far-flung cultures through his collaborations with artists from every corner of the world, including the Cuban musicians of Buena Vista Social Club, Africa’s Ali Farka Toure, and India’s V.M. Bhatt. With Los Angeles Stories, the artist’s first published collection of short fiction, Cooder turns his sensitive ear to a bygone era in one of America’s most iconic cities and the cool cats, outsiders, and oddballs that populated it.

Lynell George is a Los Angeles-based journalist who covers culture, social issues and identity politics as well as the arts.  A frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, she is an assistant professor of English and journalism at Loyola Marymount University.

Eva Gabrielsson

Eva Gabrielsson is a Swedish architect, author, and the long-time partner and collaborator with the late Swedish mystery novelist Stieg Larsson. In her forthcoming memoir, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” about Stieg Larsson and Me, Gabrielsson writes about her 32-year relationship with the author of the internationally bestselling Millennium Trilogy, including Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire,and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.  She tells of a shared passion for political causes, including Larsson’s work exposing the activities of the far right in Sweden. After Larsson’s sudden death in 2004, before the publication of his first book, his estranged brother and father claimed his estate and control of his work. Due to Swedish inheritance laws, Gabrielsson was not entitled to a single Krona. Since Larsson’s death, Gabrielsson has fought fiercely for the legal rights to Larsson’s estate and work, and for recognition as his collaborator. Of the Millennium Trilogy that made Larsson a household name, she writes “they’re the fruit of Stieg’s experience, but also of mine. Of our combats, our engagements, our travels, our passions, our fears … . That’s why I can’t say exactly what, in Millennium, came from Stieg, and what came from me.” In There Are Things I want You to Know,Gabrielsson unveils the mysteries of Larsson’s life and work and reveals the controversies surrounding his legacy.

Roy Eisenhardt practiced law for twelve years in San Francisco and taught at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He was President of the Oakland Athletics and served as the Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences. Currently, Eisenhardt serves as acting president of the San Francisco Art Institute. Some of his many interviews for City Arts & Lectures include Stephen King, Gene Wilder, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Desmond Tutu, and David Remnick.

Bob Mould & Shepard Fairey

Bob Mould is a musician, singer-songwriter, producer, and DJ.  Since he first stormed onto the music scene in the late 1970s with Hüsker Dü, Mould has followed his muse on a more than three-decade long odyssey that has included a successful solo career, a three-year stint as the leader of indie-rock band Sugar, and a foray into electronic/dance music that continues to this day as half of the DJ duo known as Blowoff. His song “Dog on Fire” is the theme song for The Daily Show. Mould’s recently released autobiography, See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, covers a tremendous amount of ground, from his early years in a rural farming community in Northern New York, life with an alcoholic parent, his own struggles with addiction and recovery, his varied career as a musician, and his long journey to self-acceptance and happiness as a gay man. Mould lives in San Francisco.

Shepard Fairey is an artist, designer, and illustrator whose work is rooted in the DIY counterculture of punk rock and skateboarding. His graphics, including the Obey Giant, have changed the way people see art and the urban landscape.  He is the founder of the creative firm Studio One. In  2008, Fairey’s art reached a new height of prominence when his “HOPE” portrait of Barack Obama became the iconic image of the presidential campaign and helped inspire an unprecedented political movement. The original image now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Handler

With And Then? And Then? What Else?, Daniel Handler examines the challenging and often amusing path toward one of the most spectacularly successful writing careers of the twenty-first century. Whether written under the pen name Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events, All the Wrong Questions), or under his own name (Why We Broke Up, We Are Pirates), Handler’s sardonic sense of humor and deep pathos has engaged us across genres for over twenty-five years.

And … he can make a mean cocktail!

Join us for a loose conversation and a stiff drink.

The event is co-presented with the San Francisco Jewish Community Center

Photo credit: Meredith Heuer

Calvin Trillin

Journalist, humorist, poet, and novelist Calvin Trillin started his professional career in the early 1960’s at Time Magazine. Soon after that, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, where he continues to be a regular contributor. Trillin is the author of 32 books, including memoir, verse, food writing, and humor. In his latest, The Lede: Dispatches From A Life in the Press, he recalls some of the legendary writers and editors he has met during seven decades of journalism.

On February 22, 2024, Calvin Trillin came to the studios of KQED in San Francisco to talk to Steven Winn about The Lede.

This was hardly Trillin’s first appearance with City Arts & Lecture. In fact, he’s graced our stage more than any other guest, a total of 19 times since his first visit in 1982. For this interview, we’ve included few highlights from those appearances, including a 2002 conversation with former Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichel and the founder of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, Alice Waters.

Tiffany Haddish

Since her breakout role in the movie Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish has been stealing scenes in films like Night School and Bad Trip, and establishing herself as a force across mediums: on television where she was the first Black woman stand-up comedian to host SNL; on the stage starring in the comedy specials Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood! and Black Mitzvah (which won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album); and on the page as the author of the memoir The Last Black Unicorn and the new essay collection, I Curse You With Joy. Struggle, perseverance, and empowerment are recurring themes in her life and work, and her truth-telling is inspirational. It is clear that Haddish is relishing her hard-earned successes, and it’s a pleasure and an honor to get to laugh along with her.

Alexis Madrigal is co-host of KQED’s Forum and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He helped found the COVID Tracking Project and was previously the editor-in-chief of Fusion. He is currently working on a book about Oakland and the Bay Area’s revolutionary ideas.

Photo by Dalvin Adams

Gabrielle Zevin

Best known for her novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin has moved across many genres and topics, writing young adult novels, dystopian speculative fiction, and stories centered around video games, all exploring modern technology, slut-shaming, and the oppression of women. She has written for The New York Times Book Review and NPR, and received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Screenplay for the feature film Conversations with Other Women. As Zevin’s career has continued to expand, she has become a stronger voice for the rights of women and the power of fiction, celebrating independent bookstores and young authors.

Rebecca Handler is a writer who lives and works in San Francisco. Her debut novel Edie Richter Is Not Alone features a protagonist who moves with her family to Perth, Australia following the death of her father. There, she finds herself isolated and forced to confront a painful secret from her past.

A limited number of tickets include a paperback copy of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.

A.S. Byatt

This week, we reach into the archives for a 2009 appearance by the late A. S. Byatt. Born in 1936 in Sheffield England, Antonia Byatt was one of three sisters, all of whom became writers. The author and critic published 11 novels, 6 collections of short stories, and 9 volumes of short stories, as well as editing the Oxford Book of English Short Stories and several other anthologies.  Byatt’s best-known novel, Possession, won the Booker Prize and was made into a film; the book she discusses in this City Arts & Lectures appearance, The Children’s Book, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  In 1999, she was made a Dame of the British Empire for her contributions to English literature.  On October 26, 2009, A. S. Byatt came to the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco to be interviewed on stage by poet Robert Hass.

An Evening with Yotam Ottolenghi

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Spend a delicious evening with Yotam Ottolenghi as he talks about his new book, Comfort, in this fun and participatory event. Live on stage, Yotam will take the audience through Comfort, (from eggs, to noodles, to roast chicken, to a wide array of cultural and culinary themes) in conversation with his local host, and will invite the audience to participate in a second half as he prepares one of his dishes. Just as food brings people together, this event combines the culinary innovation of Ottolenghi with suggestions and questions from the audience (that’s you!) to create a one-off live experience.Yotam will undoubtedly share some childhood stories, his passion for layered dishes with bold flavors and colorful ingredients, and his influences from across the world.  

Yotam Ottolenghi is a celebrated chef and bestselling cookbook author. He is the restauranteur and chef-patron of six London-based Ottolenghi delis, as well as the NOPI and ROVI restaurants. He is the author of ten bestselling and multi-award-winning cookbooks. Yotam has been a weekly columnist for the Guardian (UK) for over sixteen years and is a regular contributor to The New York Times. His commitment to the championing of vegetables, as well as ingredients once seen as ‘exotic’, has led to what some call ‘The Ottolenghi effect’. This is shorthand for the creation of a meal which is full of color, flavor, bounty, and surprise.

Photo by Elena Heatherwick

Benjamin Moser

Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Benjamin Moser is the author of biographies of Susan Sontag and Claire Lispector. He’ll talk to us about his most recent book, The Upside-Down World: Meetings with Dutch Masters. It’s about the lives of artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer, as well as lesser known figures of the Dutch Golden Age.  It’s a coming of age story too; Moser spent twenty year working on the book.

Steven Winn is a San Francisco writer and critic whose work has appeared in Musical America, the New York Times, Opera, and the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was the paper’s Arts and Culture Critic from 2000-2008. Winn’s memoir, Come Back, Como; Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog,has been translated into nine languages. His past City Arts & Lectures interviews include Patti LuPone, Frances McDormand, Tony Kushner, Louise Erdrich, Steve Martin, and David Brooks.

Dr. Jen Gunter

This week, our guest is Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain medicine physician. Gunter’s work, both as a clinician and a writer, is aimed at helping women understand and care for their bodies.  That includes countering the large amount of misinformation about women’s health. Gunter is the author of The Vagina Bible, The Menopause Manifesto, and most recently, Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation.

Indre Viskontas is a cognitive neuroscientist with the University of San Francisco and a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has published groundbreaking work on the neural basis of memory and creativity, and co-hosts the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds. Her past City Arts & Lectures interviews include Atul Gawande, Michael Lewis, and Temple Grandin.

Percival Everett & Cord Jefferson

Before his novel Erasure was adapted into the hit film American Fiction, Percival Everett was already one of the literary world’s most acclaimed talents, appreciated both for his inimitable characters and storylines, as well as the uncommon variety of genres in which he wrote. Since Everett’s first novel in 1983, he has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, for Telephone, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for The Trees. Refusing to be tied to a single topic or genre, Everett has published poetry, refashionings of Greek plays, and westerns, along with the satirical novels that are perhaps his best known works. His newest novel, James, is a reimagining of Huckleberry Finn, and has already been touted as “a canon-shattering great book.”

Cord Jefferson made his feature writing and directorial debut with American Fiction, a film based on Percival Everett’s acclaimed novel Erasure. The acclaimed movie earned him the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. His television credits include Watchmen, The Good Place, Succession, Station Eleven, Master of None, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Prior to writing for television, Jefferson was a journalist, serving as the West Coast editor for Gawker and contributing to The New York Times, National Geographic, NPR, USA Today, MSNBC, Bookforum, and elsewhere.

Jelani Cobb is Dean of Columbia University School of Journalism and a staff writer at The New Yorker. He is author of To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop AestheticThe Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, and he is co-editor of The Matter of Black Lives and The Essential Kerner Commission Report.

Limited number of tickets include a copy of James.

Everett photo by Michael Avedon

Angela Davis

After 50 years on the front lines of the fight for equality and freedom, Angela Davis remains one of the world’s most important voices for justice. Hilton Als sits down with the influential legendary activist at a celebration in support of Marcus Books, the nation’s oldest Black-Owned bookstore. 

The iconic activist and philosopher Angela Davis has been a major influence in global politics for more than 50 years. Davis first gained fame in the 1960s and 70s through her work within second-wave feminism and Marxist advocacy, specifically fighting against the firing of Communist professors at University of California. More recently, she has fought for prison abolition and spoken out in support of anti-imperialist movements, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter. Davis has been a controversial figure for her entire career, but recently institutions like UCLA, Pomona College, and The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, who opposed Davis in the past, have invited her back to lecture and receive awards. She takes the City Arts stage to discuss a lifetime of activism and her new book, Abolition, Politics, Practices, Promises (Vol I).

A staff writer at The New Yorker since 1994, cultural critic Hilton Als writes about everything from queer identities in Barbados to the life of Richard Pryor. His best-selling collection of essays, White Girls, was published in 2013, and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2017. Since then, he has become a more visible public intellectual, drawing more readers through his “insightful and deep-thinking approach [which] gives him access to the emotionally resonant and profound” (Dazed).

Photo by kk ottesen

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Delve into the 1960s with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as she gives an intimate account of leaders like the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King Jr., and Lyndon Johnson. Her new book, inspired by her late husband’s letters and memorabilia, showcases the scholarship her readers have come to expect, along with a more personal account than ever.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is the preeminent scholar of American presidents. For more than 45 years, in books like the Pulitzer-Prize winning No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt The Homefront in World War II and Team of Rivals, the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, Goodwin has informed millions of readers (and politicians) about the history and power of Executive branch. Before her career as a historian, Goodwin taught at Harvard for a decade, helped Lydon Johnson draft his memoirs, and, in 1979, became the first woman to enter the Red Sox’s locker room. An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s  uses the notes, journals, and letters of Goodwin’s late husband, Richard Goodwin, to tell a very intimate, and astute, story of the 1960s.

Steven Winn is a San Francisco writer and critic whose work has appeared in Musical America, the New York Times, Opera, and the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was the paper’s Arts and Culture Critic from 2000-2008. Winn’s memoir, Come Back, Como; Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog,has been translated into nine languages. His past City Arts & Lectures interviews include Patti LuPone, Frances McDormand, Tony Kushner, Louise Erdrich, Steve Martin, and David Brooks.

Tickets include a copy of An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s.

Robert Sapolsky

Robert M. Sapolsky is the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of biology, neurology and neurosurgery at Stanford University, and the author of several works of nonfiction, including A Primate’s Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, and Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. A MacArthur Fellow, Sapolsky has been called “one of the best scientist-writers of our time” by Oliver Sacks and “one of the finest natural history writers around” by The New York Times. His latest book, Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will, offers a marvelous synthesis of what we know about how consciousness works—the tight weave between reason and emotion and between stimulus and response in the moment and over a life.

Photo by Thompson-McLellan Photography

Encore: John Waters

This program was originally recorded live at the Sydney Goldstein Theater on May 9, 2023.

“If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t f**k them.”—John Waters

John Waters is a writer, a film director, an actor, and a visual artist best known for his films, including Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Serial Mom. He is the author of the national bestsellers Role Models, Carsick, and Mr. Know-It-All. His newest book is his first novel, Liarmouth. His spoken-word shows This Filthy World, False Negative, and A John Waters Christmas continue to be performed around the world. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Aubrey Plaza is an actress, comedian, and producer, best known for her roles in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation and the second season of the HBO series The White Lotus.

Photo by Greg Gorman

Justice Stephen Breyer

Justice Stephen Breyer, returns the City Arts & Lectures stage to discuss his first book since retiring from the United State Supreme Court, Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism

During his 28-year tenure on the United States Supreme Court, which began with his appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1994, Justice Stephen G. Breyer authored 551 opinions. As a liberal voice in the federal judiciary, he has played a key role in reforming criminal sentencing procedures, protecting the environment, and preserving abortion rights. In 2022, Justice Breyer was succeeded by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, his former law clerk. The Justice credits his time at Lowell High School in San Francisco for helping to instill in him a commitment to civic engagement. Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism is his first book since retiring from the Supreme Court.

Sarah Isgur is a legal analyst at ABC News and a staff writer for The Dispatch. She was a leader in political campaigns for Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, and Mitt Romney, and was the spokeswoman for The Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump. Isgur now hosts the legal podcast Advisory Opinions and is the “R” panelist for KCRW’s Left, Right, & Center.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy

Arguably America’s most significant doctor, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has issued a powerful warning against social media’s negative physical and mental health impacts, especially among young people. Thankfully, Dr. Murthy is offering potential ways out of what he sees as a loneliness epidemic.

As the 19th and 21st U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy has faced some of the most difficult health crises in recent history. Vice Admiral Murthy, appointed by Presidents Obama and Biden, shaped the federal response to the opioid epidemic, the rise of e-cigarettes, the Flint Michigan water crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. He also co-founded Doctors for America, which works to promote more affordable health care, and TrialNetworks, a biotechnology company that helps improve clinical drug trials. Dr. Murthy has written about and spoken on the negative health effects of loneliness, calling it an “epidemic” that increases the risk of early death and other social problems. He has also pushed to reduce access to social media for young children, pointing out the harmful effects of bullying, a lack of in-person interactions, and harassment.

David Greene is host of the weekly public radio program and podcast Left, Right & Center, whose mission is to remind us that we can still listen to one another — even when we disagree, and even in this political climate. For nearly a decade, Greene hosted NPR’s Morning Edition as well as the podcast Up First. An award-winning journalist, he was NPR’s Moscow Bureau Chief, and has covered a range of subjects and events, from the Arab Spring to President George W. Bush, to Hilary Clinton’s campaign in the historic 2008 election.

Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of the Ninth House series and the creator of the Grishaverse, which spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy (now a Netflix series), the Six of Crows duology, the King of Scars duology—and much more. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She lives in Los Angeles and is an associate fellow of Pauli Murray College at Yale University.

Joanna Robinson’s numerous podcasts include The Ringer, The Ringer-Verse, Trial By Content, Storm of Spoilers, and A Cast of Kings. She is formerly a Senior Writer at Vanity Fair where she was the founder and co-host of the Still Watching podcast and the magazine’s awards season show Little Gold Men. In 2019, SyFy dubbed her the “Queen of Game of Thrones” for her insightful coverage of the one of the biggest pop-culture events of the young century. 

Ticket information: Limited premium tickets are available for $49 and will include 1 reserved seat at the event and 1 pre-signed copy of The Familiar. Other reserved seat tickets are $36 and will not come with a book. Every attendee needs their own ticket. There will be no admittance without a ticket.




Kara Swisher in the hot seat!

Kara Swisher’s in the hot seat! Join us as Sam Altman (co-founder of OpenAI) interviews the interviewer — Kara Swisher, one of today’s preeminent tech journalists.

Throughout every era of digital technology, from the dot com bubble to artificial intelligence, Kara Swisher has been a key figure in understanding the rapid growth in Silicon Valley, whether reporting for  The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other major outlets, or as co-host of the podcast Pivot. Swisher is founder of the All Things Digital conference and the technology news website Recode, and the author of three books, including her new memoir, Burn Book: A Tech Love Story.

Through his company OpenAI, Sam Altman helped create ChatGPT, the most famous artificial intelligence chatbot. His career as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist has driven some of the largest contemporary technology companies, including Airbnb and Dropbox.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of Burn Book: A Tech Love Story.

Want a copy of the poster from this event? It’s available for order in our poster shop!

Photo by Philip Montgomery

Kathleen Hanna & Brontez Purnell

Join us for a powerful night of activist art and punk history as Kathleen Hanna, pioneer of the riot grrrl movement and lead singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and Brontez Purnell, Oakland-based punk musician and writer, discuss their new memoirs and constantly shifting artistic careers.

Kathleen Hanna’s long and diverse career can only be described as punk. An activist and artist, she embarked on her journey to music stardom after meeting experimental writer Kathy Acker. Hanna’s influence on music can’t be overstated, both as a founding member of bands like Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and Julie Ruin, as one of the creators of riot grrrl, a movement that focuses on intersectional feminism and radical political change. A career born in underground scenes and punk subcultures is now widely recognized by the mainstream; NYU has a collection of riot grrrl art pieces, and Hanna’s activism has helped people internationally through groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Peace Sisters in Togo. Her new memoir is Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk.

Since creating his first zine, Schlepp Fanzine, at the age of 14, Brontez Purnell has come a long way as a writer, activist, musician, and dancer. At 19, Purnell moved to Oakland, steadily gaining attention for his candid accounts of punk rock queer lives, both in his books, including Since I Laid My Burden Down and 100 Boyfriends, and his bands, including Gravy Train!!!!. Purnell’s ever-evolving artistic pursuits refuse boundaries, exploring punk scenes, queerness, and blackness. His new memoir, Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt, touches on capitalism, art, and various misadventures and sexcapades with musical verse and brutal honesty.

Marcus Books will host a post-event book signing with Brontez Purnell for his memoir Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt. Tickets include a copy of Kathleen Hanna’s memoir, Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk.

Want a copy of the poster from this event? It’s available for order in our poster shop!

Photo by Rachel Bright & Melissa Dale Neal

Judith Butler

Join revolutionary philosopher and queer thinker Judith Butler for their unique perspective on why the political right has focused so intently on gender politics. Butler’s newest book is Who’s Afraid of Gender? 

Since their foundational philosophical critique of gender and sexuality, Gender Trouble, Judith Butler has been a singularly important contributor to our contemporary understanding of those categories, including what it can mean to be queer.  Butler’s revolutionary cultural influence and constant drive towards better understandings of our world guarantee that they will remain a widely read canonical writer for decades to come. In recent years, Butler’s theoretical and activist work on gender performance and nonviolence has placed them in conversations around transgender rights, Black Lives Matter, and the Occupy Movement. Their forthcoming book, Who’s Afraid of Gender?, examines why recent authoritarian governments and transexclusionary feminists have focused so much of their energy and ire on gender.

Poulomi Saha is an english professor and the co-Director of the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley. They are currently at work on their second book, Fascination, which investigates the obsession with, and fear of, Indian spirituality across American history, touching on everything from Thomas Jefferson to the docuseries Wild, Wild Country.

Photo by Stefan Gutermuth

Carvell Wallace

Podcaster, journalist, and co-author of The Sixth Man with Golden State Warrior Andre Iguodala, Carvell Wallace brings his first book, a memoir touching on homelessness, queerness, and being Black in America, to the City Arts stage.

Carvell Wallace regularly contributes to the New York Times Magazine, and has written cover profiles for Rolling Stone, GQ, and Esquire. His intimate, often heartbreaking essays address everything from the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, to the connections between cowboy poetry and forgotten histories of Black people, to the possibility that his mother would have wanted an abortion. In 2019, Wallace co-wrote The Sixth Man with Golden State Warrior Andre Iguodala, a memoir of the basketball player’s life in the NBA. Wallace’s new memoir, Another Word For Love, looks back on his own life, from experiencing homelessness with his mother to raising two teenagers in a disturbingly violent and precarious world.

George McCalman is an artist and creative director based in San Francisco. His studio, McCalman.Co, designs brands for a range of clientele. Additionally, he’s a visual columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, featured in the “Observed” and “First Person” columns. His latest book, Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen, is a breathtaking collection of original portraits depicting Black heroes—both famous and unsung—who made their mark on activism, science, politics, business, medicine, technology, food, arts, entertainment, and more.

Photo by Esme Wang

Jo-Anne MacArthur

This week, a conversation about how to make (and document) change. We heard from Dr. Rajiv Shah in the first half of this program. Next up, photographer Jo-Anne MacArthur

Award winning photographer Jo-Anne MacArthur’s work explores our complex relationship with animals. From conservation efforts to the fashion and food industry, her images show the ways in which humans impact the lives of animals. Her photography is featured in a new book, Seeing It All: Women Photographers Expose Our Planet.

Indre Viskontas is a cognitive neuroscientist with the University of San Francisco and a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has published groundbreaking work on the neural basis of memory and creativity, and co-hosts the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds. Her past City Arts & Lectures interviews include Atul Gawande, Richard Powers, and Temple Grandin.

Dr. Rajiv Shah

This week, an optimistic look toward an uncertain future. We’ll hear from award winning photographer Jo-Anne MacArthur in the second half of this program. But first, Dr. Rajiv Shah. He’s the author of Big Bets: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens. This week on KQED, he’ll speak to Indre Viskontas about his work. 

Through his work as President of The Rockefeller Foundation, and at the Gates Foundation and USAID before that, Dr. Rajiv Shah has addressed today’s most pressing global health crises and economic challenges, from the Ebola crisis to the aftermath of earthquakes in Haiti to a lack of access to electricity among billions of the world’s populate. He details some of that work in Big Bets: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens, while offering lessons and optimism to other change seekers. 

Indre Viskontas is a cognitive neuroscientist with the University of San Francisco and a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has published groundbreaking work on the neural basis of memory and creativity, and co-hosts the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds. Her past City Arts & Lectures interviews include Atul Gawande, Richard Powers, and Temple Grandin.

Matthew Desmond

What is the first step to effectively fight poverty? Understanding its causes. Journalist Matthew Desmond is leading the way in detailing how our housing system, and other societal structures, makes economic survival impossible for millions of people.

Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City quickly made Desmond one of America’s most important thinkers and activists. Desmond’s ethnographic work with families struggling to pay rent and the abusive landlords taking advantage of them during the 2008 financial crisis created an accessible exposé of the ways our economic system punishes poverty. His next book, Poverty, By America, broadens the scope of his research, demonstrating how wealthy Americans keep poor people poor. A professor at Princeton University, Desmond presents his masterful research and analysis with compassion and moral urgency, as he asks us to help end poverty and bring the American collective closer to freedom and equality.

Bernice Yeung, managing editor of Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program, has been published in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times and NPR, and was nominated for an Emmy for her work investigating the sexual violence against blue collar workers. Her first book, In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers, was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.

Photo by Barron Bixler

Kara Walker

Just ahead of her major site-specific installation opening July 2024 at SFMOMA, artist Kara Walker talks to Doreen St. Félix.

Widely regarded as one of the most important living American artists, Kara Walker has investigated race, gender, sexuality, and violence through installations, paintings, silhouettes, and films. Walker’s art has won awards and is collected by museums around the world. Her work with stereotypes and the history of racial violence has pushed viewers to confront the continuing violence against Black people in America. With beloved writer Jamaica Kincaid, winner of the American Book Award, Walker is publishing An Encyclopedia of Gardening for Colored Children, a brilliant collection of essays and illustrations revealing the beauty of the natural world and the terrible history of colonialism. Next year, SFMOMA is releasing a site-specific installation by Walker, focusing on the global loss due to COVID-19, trauma, and technology. 

Doreen St. Félix is a staff writer for The New Yorker and was named to Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list. She has also been published in The New York Times Magazine and Pitchfork.

Photo by Ari Marcopoulos

Tommy Orange

One of America’s most popular young novelists, Tommy Orange, is back with his much-anticipated sophomore book, Wandering Stars. He will be joined by literary royalty Dave Eggers to discuss the impact of his early success on his second book and his life as a writer.

“If there was any doubt after his incredible debut, there should be none now: Tommy Orange is one of our most important writers. —Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah

After his stunning debut novel There There, Tommy Orange is back with a new book, Wandering Stars. The novel follows multiple generations of an indigenous family, navigating generational trauma, Indian boarding schools, institutional violence, and the complexities of indigenous heritages. Orange has published stories in McSweeney’s, Zoetrope, and Zyzzyva. Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and was born in Oakland, California.

Dave Eggers is a best-selling author, the recipient of countless awards, and the co-founder of the tutoring nonprofit 826 National. He also founded the magazine Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the human rights nonprofit Voice of Witness, and ScholarMatch, which connects donors with students who need help with college tuition.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of Wandering Stars.

Want a copy of the poster from this event? It’s available for order in our poster shop!

Photo by Elena Seibert

Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson is back with another wide-ranging and brilliant essay collection, and she’s returning to the City Arts stage. Her newest collection, Like Love, explores queer love and friendship, sex symbols like Prince, and how time alters desire.

Maggie Nelson is a rare academic writer whose fans include casual readers as well as professors. With her best-selling memoir The Argonauts, Nelson became a star of the literary world, winning a National Book Critics Circle Award. During her career Nelson has published nine books of poetry, memoir, and essays, and has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has pioneered hybrid genres and accessible scholarship, frequently describing her interest in poet Eileen Myles’ idea of “vernacular scholarship,” adding, “I need to talk back, or talk with, theorists and philosophers in ordinary language, to dramatize how much their ideas matter to me in my everyday life.” Nelson’s forthcoming collection of essays and conversations, Like Love, cements her as a key contemporary thinker, exploring queer love and friendship, sex symbols like Prince, and how time alters desire.

Frances Richard is the author of Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics, and co-author, with Jeffrey Kastner and Sina Najafi, of Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates”; she is the editor of I Stand in My Place With My Own Day Here: Site-Specific Art at The New School, and Joan Jonas is on our mind, a volume of essays on the artist. Her books of poems include Anarch., The Phonemes, and See Through. She has been a member of the editorial teams at Fence and Cabinet, and is senior editor at Places journal. She lives in Oakland.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of Like Love.

Photo by Harry Dodge

Miranda July

Author and creator Miranda July isn’t bound by medium nor by expectations. From films like Me and You and Everyone We Know  and Kajillionaire, to books like No One Belongs Here More Than You and The First Bad Man, to an iPhone app that reroutes text messages to strangers, July’s powers of creativity and observation are wise, surprising, and always delightful. Her second novel, All Fours, is the story of a woman’s artistic cross-country quest that  has already won praise from George Saunders, Emma Cline, and Vogue for its intimacy, humor, and boundary defying freedom.

A limited number of tickets include a copy of All Fours.

Photo by Elizabeth Weinberg

Amy Tan

Amy Tan brings her beloved literary voice and remarkable drawing talents to birding. Along with environmentalist and artist John Muir Laws, Tan will discuss the peace and wisdom found through gentle observation. 

“I think we often write because we feel loneliness, and people read for the same reason, and then they come away feeling a little less lonely.” – Amy Tan

Overwhelmed by hatred, misinformation and an ever more divided world, award-winning author Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter’s Daughter) turned to the birds in her yard. The Backyard Bird Chronicles tracks the thoughts and lessons gathered through birding, mixing memoir with Tan’s own sketches of birds. Tan’s calm focus on watching and drawing the wild birds who visit her home makes for a brilliantly composed breath of fresh air. Tan’s other books include The Kitchen God’s Wife and the memoir The Opposite of Faith

 Environmentalist, teacher, and artist John Muir Laws is known for his gorgeous hiking guides and bird illustrations. The author of Sierra Birds: A Hiker’s Guide and The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds, Laws is currently an Audubon TogetherGreen fellow and a research associate with the California Academy of Sciences.

Tickets include a copy of The Backyard Bird Chronicles.

Photo by Kim Newmoney

Dr. Orna Guralnik

Join Dr. Orna Guralnik, “the therapist remaking our love lives on TV” (The New Yorker), and author Maggie Nelson (The Argonauts), for a conversation on how class, race, and gender shape our most intimate relationships.

A significant figure in the world of psychology, Dr. Orna Guralnik has become well-recognized outside academia and psychoanalytic circles as host of Showtime’s Couples Therapy. On screen and off, Dr. Guralnik uses her expertise to show countless couples how therapy can improve their emotional intelligence, ability to listen, and power to change. Dr. Guralnik lectures and publishes on trans-generational trauma, the ideology and culture of psychoanalysis, and couples treatment. She is a professor at NYU and sits on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Studies in Gender & Sexuality.

The author of nine books, Maggie Nelson is a celebrated poet, essayist, and literary critic. Nelson’s forthcoming collection of essays and conversations, Like Love, cements her as a key contemporary thinker, exploring queer love and friendship, sex symbols like Prince, and how time alters desire.

Photo courtesy of Showtime

Chloé Cooper Jones

How do we decide what is beautiful? How does our understanding of beauty affect our lives? Chloé Cooper Jones looks to philosophy and her personal experience to unpack these questions in her book, Easy Beauty.

“I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.” So begins Easy Beauty, Chloé Cooper Jones’ bold, revealing memoir about moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones brings the full force of her fierce intelligence and intimate honesty to the subjects of motherhood and disability, tracing how we think about beauty and the painful realities of not meeting society’s standards. Alongside her very personal account is a philosophical investigation that makes the densest thinkers not only understandable, but alive and relatable. An Award-winning journalist, Jones was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for her profile of Ramsey Orta, who filmed the NYPD killing of Eric Garner.

Catherine Lacey is the author of five books: Biography of X, Pew, The Answers, Nobody Is Ever Missing, and a short story collection, Certain American States. Her debut work of nonfiction, The Möbius Book, is forthcoming, as well as a second short story collection, My Stalkers. Based in Mexico, she is a fellow at the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library from 2023 to 2024.

Photo by Matty Davis