While it’s a bit of a bummer that summer is drawing to a close, we’re happy to welcome in some cooler weather alongside a brisk fall season of Free Library Author Events. And what a lineup we have! Let’s take an autumn stroll through five September talks we’re really excited about, though this list is by no means comprehensive.
For information on all events and ticketing, check out the Author Events page on the Free Library website, as well as our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages.
Zadie Smith | The Fraud
First up, on Sunday, September 17 (heads up that this one begins at 8 p.m., not our usual 7:30 go time) we’re joined by celebrated British novelist Zadie Smith and her new novel, The Fraud.
Acclaimed for her “ability to render the new world, in its vibrant multiculturalism, with a kind of dancing, daring joy” (Chicago Tribune), she is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW, and Swing Time. Her other books include the short story collection Grand Union; a novella titled The Embassy of Cambodia; and three collections of essays, Changing My Mind, Feel Free, and Intimations. A professor of fiction at New York University, she is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Smith’s work has earned the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, and two Booker Prize nominations. A kaleidoscopic historical novel, The Fraud delves into a real-life Victorian legal battle that involved race, class, and Charles Dickens.
Here's a quick primer for the book, along with a bonus video about the book she recommends to everyone, that one that got her reading in the first place:
Simon Schama | Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations
Next up, on Wednesday, September 20 we welcome Simon Schama back to our stage with his new book Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations.
“A historian of prodigious and varied gifts” (San Francisco Chronicle), he is the author of 20 books, including The Embarrassment of Riches; Scribble, Scribble, Scribble; and the National Book Critics Circle Award winner Rough Crossings, an account of the enslaved people who escaped to fight for the British during the American Revolutionary War. A professor of art history and history at Columbia University, he has written and presented more than 40 documentaries for the BBC, PBS, and The History Channel, including the seminal 15-part series A History of Britain, the Emmy-winning Power of Art, and The Story of the Jews, based on his two-volume millennia-spanning work. Schama is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2018, he was knighted for his contributions to historical scholarship. In Foreign Bodies, he offers a vigorous cultural history of the complex relationship between pandemics and the crusaders who battle them.
Oh, and he’ll be in conversation with Maiken Scott, host of WHYY’s health and science show, The Pulse.
In the event that you’re not familiar with Schama, an influential historian, author, and all-around thinker, here’s a five-minute interview that paints a great picture of just who he is:
Jill Lepore | The Deadline: Essays
The very next day, Thursday, September 21 we’re excited for the return of Jill Lepore as she discusses her new essay collection, The Deadline.
Referred to by Henry Louis Gates Jr. as “one of the truly great historians of our time,” she is the author of the National Book Award finalist Book of Ages, the story of Benjamin Franklin’s beloved but often-overlooked sister Jane; New York Burning, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Secret History of Wonder Woman, a revelatory feminist origin story that won the American History Book Prize; and If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, longlisted for the National Book Award. She has worked as a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2005 and hosts the podcasts The Last Archive and Elon Musk. A collection of Lepore’s most unsparing and insightful New Yorker essays, The Deadline takes prismatic aim at such fractious topics as Americans’ dreams of techno-utopianism, lockdowns, and race commissions, as well as the losses of her own life.
Always one to think big, here’s Lepore 11 years ago discussing nothing less than the meaning of life:
Bettina L. Love | Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal
Monday, September 25, Bettina L. Love takes the stage with her new book Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal.
She’s the author of the bestseller We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award. The William F. Russell Professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, she is a co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network and a founding member of the task force that launched the program In Her Hands, an initiative that has distributed funds to Black women in Georgia and abolitionists across the country. She is one of the Kennedy Center’s 2022 Next 50 Leaders and is a sought-after public speaker on such varied topics as anti-racism, queer youth, and educational reparations. In Punished for Dreaming, Love presents an unflinching account of the result of 40 years of racist public school policy on Black lives.
She’ll be in conversation with Marc Lamont Hill, Temple University Professor, host of BET News and the Coffee and Books podcast, the author of six books, and last but certainly not least, the purveyor of Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books, which happens to be the bookseller for our events!
Here is a short primer for Punished for Dreaming, along with Love’s popular TEDx Talk:
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich | Lidia's From Our Family Table to Yours: More Than 100 Recipes Made with Love for All Occasions
And lastly (for September only, there are loads more great events coming this fall), on Thursday, September 28 we welcome Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and her new cookbook Lidia's From Our Family Table to Yours: More Than 100 Recipes Made with Love for All Occasions.
“The cookbook author who changed the way Americans cook Italian food” (The New York Times), she is the author of 15 beloved culinary guides, as well as a 2019 memoir, titled My American Dream. She is also the owner and co-owner of celebrated Italian restaurants in Manhattan, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City, and she hosts the Emmy-winning Lidia’s Kitchen on PBS and co-hosts Nonna Senti Che Fame…Pensaci Tu, which airs on Discovery+ in Italy. Her honors include recognition from the National Italian American Foundation, several James Beard Awards, induction into the Culinary Hall of Fame, and the American Public Television Silver Award. In Lidia’s From Our Family Table to Yours, Bastianich serves up traditional recipes from her childhood alongside new favorites she makes for her children and grandchildren.
She’ll be in conversation with Heather Marold Thomason, Butcher and Founder of Philadelphia’s late and beloved Primal Supply.
Out of the thousands of cooking clips we could show you, we chose this one. Because it’s a great recipe and it just feels like we’re heading into Bolognese weather, you know?