KGB: Behind the Book

December 14, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Helen Benedict is a professor at Columbia University and the author of seven novels, including the just-published Wolf Season, and her previous novel, Sand Queen, a Publishers Weekly “Best Contemporary War Novel.” She writes frequently about justice, women, soldiers, and war.  Her coverage of sexual assault in the U.S. military inspired the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War, and her work instigated a landmark lawsuit against the Pentagon on behalf of victims of military sexual assault. Benedict has spoken at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Harvard University, TED Talks, and the United Nations, among others.  A recipient of both the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, Benedict is also the author of five works of nonfiction, including the book, The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women in Iraq, and a play, The Lonely Soldier Monologues.  She lives in New York.

“No one writes with more authority or cool-eyed compassion about the experience of women in war both on and off the battlefield than Helen Benedict. In Wolf Season, she shows us the complicated ways in which the lives of those who serve and those who don’t intertwine and how—regardless of whether you are a soldier, the family of a soldier, or a refugee—the war follows you and your children for generations. Wolf Season is more than a novel for our times; it should be required reading.”
– Elissa Schappell, author of Use Me and Blueprints for Building Better Girls

Hannah Tinti is a writer, editor, and teacher.  Her new novel, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, has been optioned by director Matt Reeves, producer Michael Costigan, & Endemol Shine.  Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores the relationship between father and daughter after the mysterious death of his wife/her mother, what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.  Her short story collection, Animal Crackers, has sold in sixteen countries and was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award.  Her best-selling novel, The Good Thief, is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, recipient of the American Library Association’s Alex Award, winner of the The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and winner of the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award.  In 2002, she co-founded the award-winning magazine One Story, where she is now Executive Editor.  In 2009, she received the PEN/Nora Magid award for excellence in editing, and in 2014 One Story won the AWP Prize for Best Small Press.  In 2011, she joined the Public Radio program, Selected Shorts, as their Literary Commentator, interviewing authors and actors about the importance of literature and reading.  She co-founded the Sirenland Writers Conference in Italy with Dani Shapiro, Michael Maren, and Antonio & Carla Sersale.  She has taught writing at New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program, Columbia University’s MFA program, CUNY, and at the Museum of Natural History in New York City.

“This is a convincingly redemptive and celebratory novel: an affirmation of the way that heroism and human fallibility coexist, of how good parenting comes in unexpected packages, and of the way that we are marked by our encounters with each other and the luminous universe in which we dwell.”
– Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

Karen Shepard is a Chinese-American born and raised in New York City.  She is the author of four novels, An Empire of Women, The Bad Boy’s Wife, Don’t I Know You?, The Celestials, and a newly published collection of stories, Kiss Me Someone.  Her short fiction has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, and Ploughshares, among others.  Her nonfiction has appeared in More, Self, USA Today, and the Boston Globe, among others.  She teaches writing and literature at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where she lives with her husband, novelist Jim Shepard, and their three children.

“Faithlessness among women runs through Kiss Me Someone less like a theme than a cactus spine. Injuries may be offhand, deliberate, even set up in childhood like bad genes waiting to switch on. In her hands, all are thrilling and nuanced. . . . This complexity puts Shepard on a shelf with writers like Margaret Atwood . . . and Elena Ferrante.”
– Dylan Landis, The New York Times Book Review

Matthew Lansburgh’s collection of linked stories, Outside Is the Ocean, won the 2017 Iowa Short Fiction Award. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Ecotone, Electric Literature, StoryQuarterly, Guernica, Michigan Quarterly Review, Joyland, The Florida Review, and Columbia. Matthew holds an MFA in Fiction from NYU, where he received a Veterans Writing Fellowship. You can visit him online at

“Not for the faint of heart, this collection is relentless and intense, but Lansburgh’s prose offers stunning moments of tenderness amid its stark depictions of loneliness. Arresting and pointed.”

─ Kirkus

Check out Behind the Book at