The theme of 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival is bridging gaps.
These writers give us tools that provide greater thoughtfulness in our public engagement.

Panel discussions are on the grounds of the Chilmark Community Center.
All panel discussions are free. Open seating.


9:00 am

The Role of the Press: The Presidency and Society

Media plays an essential role in creating and shaping public opinion and strengthening society. It also serves as a watchdog to protect public interest and create public awareness. Today, it also contributes to polarization in our society. Who gets to define what is the news? These authors will explore the role of the press and the impact of the President's adversarial relationship with it.

Jim Acosta, Mark Leibovich, Jeremy Hobson*


Moderated by Nicco Mele*


10:00 am

Fiction: Transformative Friendships

Some of the most meaningful relationships are the deep friendships that stay with us our whole lives. These novels focus on friendships and non-romantic ties.

Stephen McCauley, Sigrid Nunez, Richard Russo, Gary Shteyngart

Moderated by Elizabeth Benedict*


11:00 am

Women Speak: Feminist Expression

Inspiring women discuss the influence of society on gender, self-expression and identity.
These authors reflect what feminism looked like historically and what the evolution of feminism will look like in the decades to come.

Emily Bernard, Tina Cassidy, Juliet Grames, Ruth Reichl, Lisa Taddeo

Moderated by Dawn Davis*


12:00 pm

Social Justice

These authors wrestle with America's history of racism and racial inequality, the realities of African American identity in the current cultural landscape,
and consider what can be done to promote social justice.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, David Blight, Judge Richard Gergel

Moderated by Valerie Smith*


1:00 pm

Memoir: Where We Came From; Who We Came to Be

These memoirs trace formative relationships that became polished personal narratives

Admiral William McRaven, Mary Norris, Chef Kwame Onwuachi, Victoria Riskin, Dani Shapiro


Moderated by George Gibson*


2:00 pm

Voices of Cultural Change


American culture is undergoing fundamental change and division. These authors explore this change and consider solutions.

Buck Goldstein, Eric Klinenberg, Holden Thorp, Jia Tolentino

Moderated by Nicholas Negroponte*


3:00 pm

The Future of Life on Earth: Migration, Immigration and Climate Change

Climate change and migration are issues of global significance with the benefits and burdens distributed unevenly. The intersection of these two challenges, with climate change increasingly playing a role in migration, means far larger crises ahead. These authors explore the impact of migration, immigration, and climate change and discuss strategies for enhancing resilience.

Suketu Mehta, Tatiana Schlossberg, David Wallace-Wells

Moderated by David Foster


Book signings by the authors follow each panel.
All books featured in the panels will be available for purchase at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore tent.



*Moderator Bios

Nicco Mele was previously the director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a currently a lecturer in public policy at the Center. He is the author of The End of Big: How The Internet Makes David the New Goliath and co-founder of EchoDitto (now Echo & Co), a leading internet strategy and consulting firm.

Jeremy Hobson Radio journalist Jeremy Hobson is the co-host of NPR’s Here & Now. He conducts nearly 2,000 interviews a year on a range of topics, speaking with world leaders, governors and members of Congress, as well as actors, musicians, business leaders, athletes, scientists, and journalists.

Elizabeth Benedict is a bestselling novelist, journalist, teacher of creative writing, editor, and writing coach. She has published five acclaimed novels, including the bestseller Almost, the National Book Award finalist Slow Dancing, The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers (in print since 1996), and hundreds of reviews, essays, and articles in national publications including The New York Times, Esquire, and the Huffington Post.

Dawn Davis is the Vice President, Publisher, and founder of 37 Ink, an imprint within the Atria Publishing Group of Simon & Schuster, which publishes books from a diverse array of cultures and viewpoints. Prior to launching 37 Ink, she was Editorial Director and then Publisher of Amistad imprint at HarperCollins where she published the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

Valerie Smith, a distinguished scholar of African-American literature, is the 15th president of Swarthmore College. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College and earned her MA and PhD degrees at the University of Virginia. Previously, she was a professor of English and African American Studies at UCLA and the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, founding director of the Center for African-American Studies, and the dean of the college at Princeton University. She is the author of more than 40 articles and three books on African-American literature, culture, film, and photography, and is the editor or co-editor of seven volumes.

George Gibson joined Grove Atlantic as the Executive Editor in January 2017 after a 23-year career at Bloomsbury where he edited and/or published a number of acclaimed works of nonfiction, including Dava Sobel’s Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, Mark Kurlansky’s Salt, and Carol Anderson’s White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. George began his career in the book business in 1972 as a clerk at The Old Corner Bookstore in Boston, which was then the oldest continuously running bookstore in America.

Nicholas Negroponte A pioneer in the field of computer-aided design, Nicholas Negroponte is the co-founder (and director emeritus) of MIT's Media Lab and author of the 1995 bestseller, Being Digital. As an angel investor, he provided start-up funds for more than 40 startups (including Zagats and Wired magazine) and founded the non-profit One Laptop per Child, which deployed $1 billion of laptops for primary education in the developing world.

David Foster Ecologist David Foster is the author of A Meeting of Land and Sea: Nature and the Future of Martha’s Vineyard. He is a faculty member in biology at Harvard University, Director of the 4,000-acre Harvard Forest, and Principal Investigator for the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research program as well as serving on the board of the Trustees of Reservations, the Edey Foundation and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.