Jan 17: Azar Nafisi
Feb 7: Kevin Fedarko + Pete McBride – This event is now sold out. Limited tickets may be available for purchase at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
Feb 28: Yaa Gyasi in conversation with Farah Griffin
Mar 21Adam Gopnik
Apr 4: Stephanie Danler + Anna Noyes + Molly Prentiss


All events take place at Paepcke Auditorium located on the campus of the Aspen Institute. Author events start at 6pm, doors at 5:30pm. A signing will follow each discussion and Explore Booksellers will have books for purchase.

Azar Nafisi – January 17


Azar Nafisi is the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, a harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. The book was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Memoir and was named one of the “100 Best Books of the Decade” by The Times (London). It has spent over 117 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated in 32 languages. Nafisi’s most recent book, The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books, discusses the vital role of fiction in the United States today. Azar Nafisi is currently a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, where she was a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and taught courses on the relation between culture and politics, as well as was Director of The Dialogue Project & Cultural Conversations. She has lectured and written extensively in English and Persian on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of Iranian women and girls.

Kevin Fedarko + Pete McBride – February 7 – This event is now sold out. Limited tickets may be available for purchase at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.


Kevin Fedarko has written for Esquire, National Geographic, the New York Times, and other publications. He studied at Columbia University and Oxford before joining the staff at Time, where he served on the foreign affairs desk, then later worked as a senior editor at Outside. His first book, The Emerald Mile, which was a New York Times bestseller, won the National Outdoor Book Award and the Reading the West Award, and was a finalist for both the PEN Literary Sports Writing Award and the Banff Mountain Book Award. Fedarko lives and works in Flagstaff.


Native Coloradan Pete McBride is a self-taught, award-winning photographer, writer, and filmmaker. He has traveled on assignment to over 75 countries for the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian, The Nature Conservancy, Microsoft, Outside, Esquire, and many others. After a decade working abroad and completing a Knight Fellowship for journalism at Stanford University, McBride began documenting the Colorado River, culminating in a book and three award-winning short documentaries. His work as a photographer, writer, and filmmaker has garnered awards from the Banff Mountain Film Festival and the North American Society of Journalists, and he was named a “Freshwater Hero” by the National Geographic Society. For his latest project, he hiked over 700 miles along the Grand Canyon’s interior rim, documenting the development challenges threatening the National Park. The story will be published on various platforms through National Geographic and PBS in 2016/17.

 Yaa Gyasi in conversation with Farah Griffin – February 28 


Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. Her debut novel, Homegoing, was published in 2016 and was called “an inspiration” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It was nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and is a finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Gyasi was recently named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35,” which recognizes debut fiction writers whose work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Farah Jasmine Griffin is a professor of English and comparative literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research in African American studies. In addition to editing several collections of letters and essays she is the author of Who Set You Flowin’: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) and Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008).

Adam Gopnik – March 21


Adam Gopnik has been writing for the New Yorker since 1986. During his tenure at the magazine, he has contributed fiction, humor, book reviews, profiles, and reporting from abroad. He was the magazine’s Art Critic from 1987-1995, and the Paris Correspondent from 1995-2000. From 2000-2005, he wrote a journal about New York life, and since then has been working as a miscellaneous essayist. His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include Paris to the Moon, The King in the Window, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, and Winter: Five Windows on the Season. Gopnik has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, and the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In 2013, he was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. Gopnik lives in New York. 

Stephanie Danler + Anna Noyes + Molly Prentiss – April 4

Bestselling and award-winning debut authors and alumni of Aspen Summer Words.


Stephanie Danler is the author of the New York Times-bestselling novel Sweetbitter.  After receiving her MFA in Fiction from The New School in 2014, she attended the Novel Editing Workshop at Aspen Summer Words, where she revised an early draft of her novel. A coming-of-age tale, Sweetbitter follows a small-town girl as she begins her adult life in the underworld of an upscale Manhattan restaurant. Danler’s work has also appeared in VogueTravel + Leisure, Lit Hub and The Paris Review Daily. She lives in Los Angeles.


Anna Noyes is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in VICE, A Public Space, and Guernica, amongst others. She has received the Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowship, the James Merrill House Fellowship, and the Lighthouse Works Fellowship, and has served as writer-in-residence at the Polli Talu Arts Center in Estonia. She was awarded the 2016 Lotos Foundation Prize, and Goodnight, Beautiful Women received the 2013 Henfield Prize for Fiction. She was raised in Downeast Maine and now lives in Brooklyn.

ww17_AS_series-halfad_FFO-OTL.inddMolly Prentiss
grew up in Santa Cruz, California. She has been a Writer in Residence at The Blue Mountain Center, Vermont Studio Center, and at the Workspace program at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and received the Emerging Writer Fellowship from Aspen Words in 2014. Her first novel, Tuesday Nights in 1980, was published in 2016 and was long listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.