Meet the 2017 literary luminaries of Summer Words! Each of these award-winning authors will attend the Summer Benefit dinner and speak on a variety of public panels


jericho-brown-c-john-lucasJericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  His poems have appeared in The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe New RepublicBuzzfeed, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.  His first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library JournalColdfront, and the Academy of American Poets.  He is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University.


Desanti webCarole DeSanti is Vice President, Executive Editor at Viking Penguin, where she is known as a champion  of outstanding, original voices.  Her publishing credits include Dorothy Allison’s  contemporary classic Bastard out of Carolina, Booker Prize Finalist Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being,  Melissa Bank’s Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics, George Hodgman’s award-winning memoir Bettyville, and the  novels of Terry McMillan and Deborah Harkness.  DeSanti is the author of critically acclaimed novel of 19th century Paris, The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012.   She has been profiled in Poets & Writers’ Magazine, published in the Women’s Review of Books, the Guardian and The New York Times and received fellowships at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center and Hedgebrook.


ben-fountain-c-billy-lynnBen Fountain’s novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award, and the L.A. Times Book Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Ang Lee directed the film adaptation of Billy Lynn, which was released in November 2016 and starts Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Tucker. Fountain is also the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (Stories), which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and a Whiting Writer’s Award.



Jane Hamilton’s novels have won literary prizes, been made into films, and become international bestsellers; and two of them, The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World, were selections of Oprah’s Book Club. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Allure, O: The Oprah Magazine, Elle, and various anthologies. She’s married to an apple farmer and lives in Wisconsin. 


hodgman-c-sigrid-estradaGeorge Hodgman is the author of the memoir, Bettyville, and a veteran editor in books and magazines. He has worked at Simon and Schuster, Henry Holt, Houghton Mifflin, Vanity Fair, and the start-ups of Talk and Details. He has recently been a guest professor in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Missouri.



Chinelo Okparanta is the author of Under the Udala Trees (2015) and Happiness, Like Water (2013). One of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012, she was a finalist for the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and was short-listed for the 2013 Caine Prize in African Writing. She is a 2014 O. Henry Award winner, a 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Fiction Book Award Winner, as well as a two-time Lambda Literary Award winner for Lesbian Fiction. Her work was nominated for the 2016 NAACP Image Awards in Fiction as well as for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award in Fiction. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Kenyon


sayrafiezadehSaïd Sayrafiezadeh is the author of Brief Encounters with the Enemy, which was shortlisted for the 2014 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize, and the critically acclaimed memoir When Skateboards Will Be Free. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s, The New York Times and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications. He is the recipient of a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a 2012 fiction fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He lives in New York City and teaches creative writing at Hunter College and New York University, where he received a 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award.


dani-shapiro-c-bastian-schweitzerDani Shapiro is the bestselling author of four memoirs: Hourglass, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Devotion, and Slow Motion; and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Shapiro’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life.” Her recent essays on the lures and dangers of the internet and social media have stirred up controversy and gone viral, and are now being taught in many universities. She is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy and a contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler.


hannah-tintiHannah Tinti is a writer, editor and teacher. Her short story collection Animal Crackers was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her bestselling novel The Good Thief won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, an American Library Association Alex Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In 2002, Tinti co- founded the award-winning literary magazine One Story, and for the past fourteen years has been its editor-in-chief. She teaches creative writing at New York University’s MFA Program and the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy, which she co-founded with Dani Shapiro, Michael Maren, and Antonio Sersale. Her new novel, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, has been optioned for television and will be published in March 2017 by the Dial Press.


jess-walter-c-hannah-assoulineJess Walter is the author of eight books. His 2012 novel Beautiful Ruins spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list, five weeks at #1. He was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for The Zero and won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe award for Citizen Vince. He’s been a finalist for the PEN/USA Literary Prize in fiction and nonfiction, a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize, and twice won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. His most recent book, the short story collection, We Live in Water, was long-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Story Prize and won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. His books have been published in 32 languages and his short fiction has appeared twice in Best American Short Stories, in Harpers, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Esquire and many others. He lives in Spokane, Washington, with his family.