Valerie Koehler opened Blue Willow Bookshop in west Houston in October 1996. She was named a Champion of Literacy from Literacy Advance of Houston, and MPIBA Bookseller of the Year in 2011. She has served on the boards of MidSouthIBA, MPIBA, ABC, and ABFFE. She is currently serving on the board of the American Booksellers Association. Valerie has a very patient husband and two sons successfully launched into the world.
Grace Worcester Greene has worked with literature for youth all her professional life, first as a children’s librarian in Massachusetts, and then for twenty-seven years as the Youth Services Consultant at the Vermont Department of Libraries. In Vermont, she oversaw the management of the state’s three children’s choice book awards. In addition, she has served on numerous book award committees, including the Caldecott, the Newbery, the Boston Globe-Horn Book and the Vermont Book Award.
Lamar Giles is the author of the Edgar Award Nominated Fake ID and Endangered. His latest, Overturned, was a Kirkus Reviews Best YA Novel for 2017. He is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, and a faculty member in the Spalding University MFA program. He resides in Virginia with his wife.
Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001) taught at the University of Utah, at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Susan Straight was born in Riverside and still lives there with her family. (She can actually see the hospital from her kitchen window, which her daughters find kind of pathetic; most days, she walks the dog past the classroom where she wrote her first short story at 16, at Riverside City College, which they find even more sad.) She has published seven novels and one middle-grade reader. Highwire Moon was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001; A Million Nightingales was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Her short stories have appeared in Zoetrope, The Ontario Review, The Oxford American, The Sun, Black Clock, and other magazines. “The Golden Gopher,” from Los Angelas Noir, won the Edgar Award in 2007; “El Ojo de Agua,” from Zoetrope, won an O. Henry Award in 2007. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Family Circle, Salon, The Los Angeles Times, Harpers, The Nation, and other magazines. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on Highwire Moon, and a Lannan Prize was an immense help when working on Take One Candle Light a Room.
Dan Chaon’s most recent book is Ill Will, a national bestseller, named one of the ten best books of 2017 by Publishers Weekly. Other works include the short story collection Stay Awake (2012), a finalist for the Story Prize; the national bestseller Await Your Reply and Among the Missing, a Finalist for the National Book Award. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize Anthologies, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, the Shirley Jackson Award, and he was the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Ohio and teaches at Oberlin College.
Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her most recent book is Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. She lives in New York City.
Prose was the chair of the National Book Award Fiction judging panel in 2007, the year that Denis Johnson won the Award for Tree of Smoke.
Álvaro Enrigue was a Cullman Center Fellow and a Fellow at the Princeton University Program in Latin American Studies. His work has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, London Review of Books, and El País. Sudden Death, his most recent novel, was awarded the prestigious Herralde Prize in Spain, the Elena Poniatowska International Novel Award in Mexico, and the Barcelona Prize for Fiction. Enrigue was born in Mexico and lives in New York City. He teaches at Hofstra University.
Susan Bernofsky directs the literary translation program in the Columbia University School of the Arts. Her translations include works by Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Yoko Tawada. Her many prizes and awards include the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, the Schlegel-Tieck Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize, the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She blogs about translation at www.translationista.com.