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A Words Without Borders celebration of multicultural, multilingual authors reading their works.
Join a diverse lineup of award-winning writers as they come together to celebrate and share their writing. The evening is inspired by the column “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders magazine, the most important international literature magazine in the United States, celebrating its 20th anniversary. The column takes readers on journeys—ruminations on urban life and the imagination, literature and language, translation and transitions.
This global gathering is curated by NYU Abu Dhabi’s Nathalie Handal (USA-France) Award-winning poet and curator of “The City and the Writer,” starring Alain Mabanckou (Congo-France-USA) Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire, Naomi Shihab Nye (American) Young People’s Poet Laureate, Giancarlo de Cataldo (Italy) Award-winning screenwriter, David Henry Hwang (American) Tony Award winner, Geetanjali Shree (India) Booker Prize winner, Isabella Hammad (Britain) Granta Best of Young British Novelists, Fernanda Trías (Uruguay) Award-winning novelist, Maryam Madjidi (France) Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, Shahad Al-Rawi (Iraq) Edinburgh Prize for First Fiction, Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) Nobel Prize winner, Rachel Holmes (United Kingdom), Award winning biographer.
Nathalie Handal is described as a “contemporary Orpheus.” She is the author of 10 award winning books, including Life in a Country Album ; the flash collection The Republics, lauded as “one of the most inventive books by one of today’s most diverse writers,” and winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and the Arab American Book Award; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. Her nonfiction has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Nation, and The Irish Times, among others. Handal is the recipient of awards from the PEN Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Fondazione di Venezia, Centro Andaluz de las Letras, and the Africa Institute, among others. She is professor at New York University-AD.
Alain Mabanckou is an award-winning novelist, poet, essayist, and a professor at UCLA. He is the author of African Psycho, Broken Glass, Black Bazaar, and Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty, as well as The Lights of Pointe-Noire and Black Moses. Among his many honors are the Académie Française’s Grand Prix de literature, awarded in recognition of his entire literary career, the 2016 French Voices Award for The Lights of Pointe-Noire, which was described by Salman Rushdie as “a beautiful book,” the Prix Renaudot 2006 for Mémoires de porc-épi and a finalist for the 2015 and 2017 Man Booker International Prize. Mabanckou is a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, and has been featured on Vanity Fair’s list of France’s 50 most influential people.
Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” Born to an American mother, she is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. Nye is a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, and “The Betty Prize” from Poets House for service to poetry, and numerous honors for her children’s literature. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets. In 2018 the Texas Institute of Letters awarded her the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement, in 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle, and in 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Giancarlo de Cataldo is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and director. He is the author of numerous books including Nero come il cuore (1989), The Father and the Foreigner (1997), and the bestselling Romanzo criminale (Einaudi 2002), which was made into a television series directed by Stefano Sollima, and a film directed by Michele Placido. His most recent novels include La Notte di Roma (2015), Suburra, which was made into a Netflix series, and Colpo di ritorno (Einaudi, 2023). Among his many honors, he is the recipient of the David di Donatello for Best Screenplay, the Prix du Polar Europeen, and the Abbiati Prize for the libretto“Acquaprofonda,” music by Giovanni Sollima. He lives in Rome.
David Henry Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a Grammy Award winner who has been twice nominated, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Among his most known plays Yellow Face, Golden Child, Chinglish and M. Butterfly. He is currently penning the live-action feature musical remake of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Anna May Wong biopic to star actress Gemma Chan. In television, he was a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair, and is the showrunner of Billion Dollar Whale for Westward/SKG, 2023. He also co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late music icon Prince. Recent honors include his 2022 induction onto the Lucille Lortel Playwrights Sidewalk and his 2021 election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Geetanjali Shree is known for her innovative use of language and structure. She is the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize, and of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for her novel, Tomb of Sand (Ret Samadhi in the Hindi original). She four other novels include, Mai (Mai: Silently Mother), Hamara Shahar Us Baras, Tirohit (The Roof Beneath Their Feet), and Khali Jagah (Empty Space), and five collections of short stories. Besides English, her work has been translated into many languages. Shree has also worked on theatre scripts in collaboration with a Delhi based group, Vivadi, of which she is one of the founding members.
Isabella Hammad is the author of The Parisian and Enter Ghost. She has been awarded the 2018 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, an O. Henry Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Betty Trask Award, and she was a National Book Foundation “5 under 35”. Her work has been supported with fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and the Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination, and she has taught literature and creative writing at NYU, Brown and Al Quds Bard College. In 2023 she was included on the Granta Best of Young British Novelists, which names the most significant British writers under 40.
Fernanda Trías was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and is currently based in Colombia. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University and has published the novels Cuaderno para un solo ojo, La azotea (in English as The Rooftop, Charco Press), and La ciudad invencible, as well as the short story collection No soñarás flores. Her most recent novel, Mugre rosa (Literatura Random House 2020), was supported by a residency at the SEGIB-Eñe-Casa de Velázquez, was chosen by the New York Times in Spanish as one of the ten best books of the year, received Uruguay’s National Literature and Bartolomé Hidalgo prizes and Mexico’s international Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz prize, and will be published in English as Pink Slime by Scribe (UK/AU) and Scribner (US). Her work has been translated into numerous languages.
Maryam Madjidi finished a Masters in comparative literature and a Masters in French as a foreign language didactics at the Sorbonne, and then taught French to middle school and high school students. She lived four years in Beijing and two years in Istanbul, and currently resdies in the suburbs of Paris where she teaches French to unaccompanied minors. She is a columnist for l’Humanité magazine. Madjidi has published two novels, Marx et la poupée, winner of the Prix Goncourt du premier roman 2017 and Pour que je m’aime encore (2021); and two children’s books, Je m’appelle Maryam (2019) et Mon amie Zahra (2021).
Shahad Al-Rawi is an Iraqi novelist and anthropologist. Born in Baghdad, she went to Damascus after the American invasion of Iraq to complete her university studies. Her first novel The Baghdad Clock (2016), was translated into several languages, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award. Her second novel Banner Over the Republic Bridge (2021), was nominated for the Sheikh Zayed Award. Al-Rawi writes for various Arab and foreign newspapers.
Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize Laureate, is a towering figure in world literature. A multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, academic, teacher, human rights activist, global artist, and scholar, he has won international acclaim for his verse including International Humanist Award, and the International Poetry Award, Trieste. He is the author of numerous books namely, The Interpreters (1965), Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972), Myth, Literature and the African World (1975), Ogun Abibiman (1976) Aké (1981), Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988), and Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth (2021). His most recent dramatic works include, The Beatification of Area Boy (1996), Document of Identity (1999), King Baabu (2001), Alapata Apata (2011) and Thus Spake Orunmila (2011).
Rachel Holmes is the author of Sylvia Pankhurst – Natural Born Rebel (2020), Eleanor Marx: A Life (2014), The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Sarah Baartman (2006) and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry (2002), all published by Bloomsbury. She has edited many works, including the previously undiscovered play Between Two Fires by Sylvia Pankhurst, published by Methuen Drama in 2022, and the essay collections Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago, 2013) and I Call Myself A Feminist (Virago, 2015). Holmes held lectureships at Queen Mary University of London, the University of Sussex, and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa; and was the UK Chair of the Iraq Literature Festival held in Erbil; and Visiting Literary Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford.
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