2015 Book Festival Authors and Books
Presenting the authors and books of the 2015 Martha's Vineyard Book Festival
2015 Featured Authors and Books
in alphabetical order
John Benditt has written an adventurous debut novel in The Boatmaker, part fable, part passionate love story and an odyssey of self-discovery. The many modes of discovery he employs in the novel are shown throughout the many facets of his life. Benditt has worked both as a journalist and editor for magazines such as Scientific American and Technology Review. He now lives in Brooklyn.
Ali Berlow has not simply grazed on her vivacious appetite for food, but has fully embraced her passion. Author of The Food Activist Handbook, in which she empowers people to get healthier food and support a better food system, she was the founding Executive Director of Island Grown Initiative to support island family farms and farmers on the island. With her husband, Sam Berlow, she launched the quarterly print magazine Edible Vineyard in 2009, featuring stories and recipes from the island.
Charles Blow, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist since 2008, is the author of the Times best selling memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which searingly and emotionally details his journey of self-discovery. Blow, also a CNN commentator, joined the Times as a graphics designer and quickly became the paper’s graphics director where he spearheaded its award winning graphics coverage of 9/11 and the Iraq war. He was also the arts director of National Geographic magazine for several years. Blow lives in Brooklyn with his three children.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, writes with emotional depth about how culture, politics and history shape discussions of diversity. His Atlantic cover story on slavery and race, “The Case for Reparations,” won the 2014 George Polk Award. His memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, chronicles his father’s efforts to keep his seven children whole in a world bent on their destruction. Coates's new book, Between the World and Me, a personal literary exploration of America’s racial history, will be published in September. As Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker wrote, “Coates is one of the most elegant and sharp observers of race in America.”
Vicki Croke chronicles the life of James Howard Williams, renowned for developing humane training schools for elephants, in her New York Times bestselling book, Elephant Company. Croke has a lifelong love of animals which she exemplifies both in her books and in her career as a journalist where she covers creatures great and small for WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR station. She wrote the Boston Globe’s “Animal Beat” column for 13 years and was awarded a 2013 regional Edward R. Murrow Award. She currently resides in Boston.
Laurie David, the author of The Family Cooks, continues her quest to get families to sit down and enjoy home cooked meals together, and gives novice chefs the tools to begin cooking. David produced two ground changing films: An Inconvenient Truth, with Al Gore on climate change, and Fed Up, with Katie Couric on food additives. She is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post and has won many awards including the Producers Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer Award, the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award, and the Feminist Majority’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award. She lives in Los Angeles and on Martha’s Vineyard.
Corinne Field is an historian and the author of The Struggle for Equal Adulthood: Gender, Race, Age and the Fight for Citizenship in Antebellum America. She is the Director of Undergraduate Programs and a lecturer at the Women, Gender, Sexuality Program and the Corcoran Department of History both at the University of Virginia. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the intersection of gender, race, and age in the nineteenth-century United States.
Chris Fischer is homegrown, much like the food in his book, The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook, which celebrates seasonal farm- and ocean-to-table fare. He was raised on the island and is a member of his family’s twelfth generation here. He has honed his culinary talents by cooking in some of the world’s leading kitchens in New York and London. Fischer, back on Martha’s Vineyard, serves as farmer and chef at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark.
The remarkable photographs of Gabriela Herman, a Brooklyn and Vineyard based photographer, grace the cookbook. Herman specializes in travel, food, lifestyle and portrait work around the globe bringing a fresh and vibrant energy. Her work appears frequently in Martha Stewart Living and Condé Nast Traveler, among many other publications.
Barney Frank represented the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts for more than three decades and chaired the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011. As Elizabeth Warren noted, “ Barney Frank will be remembered as one of the hardest-working, quickest thinking, most effective – and most quotable – congressmen in our nation’s history.” His feisty and witty memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, is his personal account of his struggle for personal freedom and economic fairness.
Ginny Gilder’s Course Correction: A Story of Rowing and Resilience in the Wake of Title IX details the near constant struggle faced by a professional female athlete with the highest aspirations. Her athletic journey began at Yale University where she helped usher in the post-Title IX era by participating in the Women’s Crew Strip-in to protest the lack of equal facilities. Gilder represented the United States on four national rowing teams, including two Olympic teams and won a silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Gilder lives in Seattle and is co-owner of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
Jeff Hobbs’s college roommate at Yale University was Rob Peace, a brilliant and determined scholarship student from one of Newark’s ghettos. Peace’s violent and untimely death at 30 prompted Hobbs to research Peace’s life, explore the different worlds that he was straddling and write the remarkable, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. Hobbs spent his college career studying English Literature where he only got glimpses into the troubled, drug-riddled life of his roommate. Hobbs now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Kanter is also Chair and Director of Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, a collaboration designed to help successful leaders apply their skills to national and global challenges. Her latest book, MOVE: Putting America's Infrastructure Back in the Lead, shows how we can combine technological innovation with dedicated leadership to make transportation infrastructure an engine for economic growth. Kanter lives in Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard.
David Kertzer’s The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe tells the gripping story of Pope Pius XI’s secret relations with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Based on years of research in the Vatican and Fascist archives, Ketzer demonstrates how Pius XI played a crucial role in making Mussolini’s dictatorship possible and keeping him in power. The book was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for biography. From 2006 to 2011, Kertzer was Provost of Brown University where he is currently the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science and Professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies.
Liza Klaussmann won the British National Book Award and Elle Grand Prix for her international bestseller, Tigers in Red Weather. In her second novel, Villa America, which will be released in August, Klaussmann writes about the glamorous life of the Murphy family living on the French Riviera and presents a stunning story of the Lost Generation and a golden age that could not last. Klaussmann, a former reporter, lives in North London and spends summers on Martha’s Vineyard.
Stephen Kurkjian, master reporter, in Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist, tackles one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries, the 1990 theft of priceless art works at Boston’s beloved Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum. Kurkjian is a forty-year veteran of the Boston Globe where he was former Washington bureau chief —a career that has rewarded him with numerous awards including three Pulitzer Prizes. He currently resides in Boston and is the father of two and grandfather of three.
Erik Larson is the master of page-turning nonfiction sagas. His books have been blockbuster bestsellers including his latest work, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. On the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking by a German U-boat, this riveting story details the historical context and the drama of the unfolding disaster as told through the doomed passengers who boarded the vessel. Dead Wake has been on the New York Times bestseller list since it was published. Larson lives in New York City and Seattle with his wife and three daughters.
Dick Lehr in The Birth of a Nation details the cultural clash that erupted over the film of the same name upon its release in 1915. The film, seen by 25 million Americans, portrayed freed slaves as villainous, vengeful and dangerous to the sanctity of American values. Upon its release, violent protests against the film erupted across the country. The crusade to have the film censored became a blueprint for dissent during the 1950s and 1960s. Lehr, a professor of journalism at Boston University, was a reporter for the Boston Globe for nearly two decades. He lives outside Boston with his wife and four children.
Patty Marx, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1989, in Let’s Be Less Stupid turns her considerable wit to figure out how to reverse the mental decline that comes with aging. She is a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats, and was the first woman elected to the Harvard Lampoon. She has taught at Princeton, New York University and Stonybrook University, and is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in New York City with whichever comfort animal she may be test-driving.
Rick Mast and his brother Michael (the Mast Brothers) were one of the first bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the US and almost single handedly educated the country about high-quality chocolate by making it hip, beautiful and delectable. They began making artisanal chocolate in Brooklyn in 2006, have since expanded to London, and recently wrote Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook, in which they share their unique story and recipes for classic American desserts and savory dishes.
Susan Minot, in her novel, Thirty Girls, interweaves the stories of two young women: one held captive with 30 teenage girls by Ugandan rebels and forced to commit unspeakable atrocities, and the other an idealistic American traveling across Africa. Minot is an award-winning novelist, short-story writer, poet and screenwriter. Her novel Evening was a worldwide bestseller and became a motion picture. She teaches at New York University and lives with her daughter in New York City and on North Haven Island in Maine.
Peter Nichols transports readers to Mallorca, which serves as the idyllic backdrop to his elegantly crafted novel, The Rocks. Nichols is an established writer of non-fiction, fiction and memoir and has lived an eclectic life including years as a professional yacht captain in the Caribbean, a Hollywood screenwriter and a shepherd in Wales. He divides his time between Europe and the United States.
Mary Norris began working at The New Yorker in 1978 and has not stopped since. At a magazine legendary for its rigorous editing, she is one of the fearsome super copy editors known as O.K.’ers, vetting stories just before publication. In her blunt and irreverent memoir, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Norris shares her love of language and practical grammatical advice. She lives in New York City and this is her first book.
Corky, Lori, Dana, and Tracy Pollan, the incredible Pollan women, have collaborated to create The Pollan Family Table: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdom for Delicious, Healthy Family Meals. Each woman is highly successful in her own way—from Corky, the mother, as Style Director of Gourmet magazine and Best Bets editor at New York magazine, to daughters Lori and Dana’s cofounding of the acclaimed Pollan-Austen Fitness Center, and through daughter Tracy’s career as an actress on television, stage and film. Their book combines the best of the Pollan family recipes and their approach to cooking and to life.
Bob Ryan’s name is synonymous with the Boston Globe’s era of legendary sports writing. He retired from the Boston Globe in 2012 after 45 years where he earned the reputation as one of the country’s most respected sports reporters, writers and columnists. His insight as a reporter, his ability to connect with people and his gift as a storyteller shine through in this memoir of his extraordinary career, Scribe: My Life in Sports. He lives in Hingham, Massachusetts with his wife, Elaine Ryan.
Carl Safina researches, reports and writes on the scientific, moral and social dimensions of man’s relationship with nature. He is a renowned ecologist, conservationist and oceanographer and has been awarded MacArthur, Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships. In Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, he examines the lives and minds of animals and their capacity for thought and emotion. Author of Song for the Blue Ocean, Safina also hosted the ten-part PBS series Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. He lives on Long Island, New York with his wife Patricia.
Steven Satterfield is the executive chef and co-owner of the award winning Miller Union restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. In his beautiful book, Root to Leaf, his focus is on the whole vegetable with recipes spotlighting fresh produce and his trademark approach: simple food, elegantly cooked. In 2014, Satterfield was a semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, and Miller Union was listed as one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit and Esquire.
Kenneth Shropshire shines a spotlight on recent sports controversies and writes about the need for diversity, inclusion and equality in sports in his latest book, Sports Matters: Leadership, Power and the Quest for Respect. For over 25 years he has been the David W. Hauck Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and Director of its Wharton Sports Business Initiative. An attorney, educator, public speaker, consultant and author, Shropshire lives with his wife, Diane in Philadelphia.
Jennifer Tseng’s debut novel, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness is full of rich prose and poetic language, and explores the quest to find oneself. Set on an island off the coast of New England, the novel reveals a librarian’s obsession with a young patron. Tseng, the author of two award-winning collections of poetry, is a librarian at the West Tisbury Library on Martha’s Vineyard.
Sarah Wildman’s remarkable book, Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind began as a quest to find a mysterious woman in a photograph among her grandfather’s things. Her journey took her to Europe, where she uncovered a Holocaust story and also a story about the nature of memory, love, loss and rediscovery. Wildman is a journalist who contributes to the New York Times, Slate, and New Yorker. She lives in Washington, DC.