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; Amanda Michalopoulo (Greece) Academy of Athens Prize winner; Carlo Lucarelli (Italy) Best-selling novelist and television presenter; Angie Cruz (Dominican-American) Gold Medal Latino Book Award winner; Rana Kazkaz (Syria-USA), Award-winning filmmaker; David Henry Hwang (American) Tony Award winner; Isabella Hammad (British) Granta Best of Young British Novelists; Fernanda Trías (Uruguay) Bartolomé Hidalgo Prize winner; 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.

Amanda Michalopoulo is the author of eight novels, three short story collections, a theater play and a novella. Her stories have appeared in Harvard Review, Guernica, PEN magazine, World Literature Today, WWB, The Guardian, among others. She has won numerous awards including the Revmata Award, the Diavazo Award for her novel Jantes, and the Academy of Athens Prize, and well as fellowships from the DAAD and LCB in Berlin, the Shanghai Writers Association, Edward Albee Foundation, and Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation. The American translation of her book I’d Like won the International Literature Prize by NEA and the Liberis Liber Prize of the Independent Catalan Publishers. Her novels, Why I killed my best friend, and God’s Wife were shortlisted for the ALTA National Translation Award. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. She is a contributing editor at Kathimerini in Greece and Tagesspiegel in Berlin.

Carlo Lucarelli is one of Italy’s most beloved writers. He is a novelist, television writer and screenwriter. His debut, De Luca Trilogy in 1990 was immensely successful. He has since published over 20 novels, several essays and collections of short stories. He is an active member of several Italian and international writers’ associations, and taught at Alessandro Baricco’s Holden School in Turin and in Padova’s maximum security prison. His novels have been translated into French for Gallimard’s renowned “Noir” series, and many, including Almost Blue and Lupo Mannaro, have been made into films, the first by Alex Infascelli and the latter by Antonio Tibaldi. He was the author and host of the television shows, Blu Notte; Muse Inquietanti; Inseparabili – vite all’ombra del genio; and In compagnia del lupo – il cuore nero delle fiabe. In 2017, he became the president of the Emiliano-Romagnola Foundation for Victims of Crime.

Angie Cruz is a novelist and editor. Her most recent novel How Not To Drown in A Glass of Water (2022) was a finalist for the 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, shortlisted for The Aspen Words Literary Prize, winner of the Gold Medal, Latino Book Award, longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize and chosen for The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2022 and The Washington Post 50 Notable Works of Fiction. Her novel, Dominicana was the inaugural book pick for GMA book club and shortlisted for The Women’s Prize, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction, a RUSA Notable book and the winner of the ALA/YALSA Alex Award in fiction. Cruz is the author of two other novels, and the recipient of numerous fellowships and residencies. Her novels have been translated into six languages. She’s the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Aster(ix) and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Rana Kazkaz is a filmmaker and Associate Professor at Northwestern University Qatar. Her films have been recognized at the world’s leading film festivals including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Tallinn, Tribeca, and Abu Dhabi. With a focus on Syrian stories, her films include The Translator, Mare Nostrum, Searching for the Translator, Deaf Day, and Kemo Sabe. Her current film projects include The Hakawati’s Daughter and Honest Politics. She is a member of the Académie des César, was awarded the Roberta Buffett Visiting Professorship at Northwestern University.

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.

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.

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.