David Gates is a journalist and novelist. His first novel Jernigan, about a dysfunctional one-parent family, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1992. He went on to publish the novel Preston Falls and the short story collection The Wonders of the Invisible World. His stories have also appeared in Esquire, Ploughshares, GQ, Grand Street and TriQuarterly. He is a former senior writer in the arts section at Newsweek, where he specialized in articles on books and music. Gates teaches in the graduate writing program at The University of Montana.
Paul Harding is the author of the novel Tinkers, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and the 2010 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, among other awards. His short fiction has appeared in Shakepainter and the Harvard Review. He received an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2000 and was a 2000-2001 Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. He currently teaches writing at Harvard University.
Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, which received a PEN Open Book Award and the key to Jamaica, Queens. He has also written the novels The Ecstatic and Big Machine and has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Whiting Writers’ Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. LaValle was raised in Queens. His essays and book reviews have appeared in GQ, Essence Magazine, The Fader and The Washington Post, among others. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.F.A. from Columbia University, where he is an assistant professor and the acting fiction director of the university’s School of the Arts. He lives in New York.
Elizabeth Nunez is the author of eight novels. Boundaries, her most recent novel, was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her novel Anna In-Between, which was also selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, won the 2010 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. Her other novels include Prospero’s Daughter, Bruised Hibiscus, Discretion, Grace, Beyond the Limbo Silence and When Rocks Dance. Nunez has also written several monographs of literary criticism published in scholarly journals and is co-editor of the anthology, "Blue Latitudes: Carribbean Woman Writers at Home and Abroad." She was also the executive producer for the 2004 Emmy-nominated CUNY TV series Black Writers in America and was awarded the 2011 Barnes and Noble Poets and Writers, Writers for Writers Award. In 2012, Nunez was among twelve writers selected by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the PEN Faulkner Foundation, whose essays will appear in a chapbook celebrating the exhibition in Washington, D.C. on “Shakespeare's Sisters.” Nunez immigrated to the United States from Trinidad after completing high school there. She received her Ph.D. in English from New York University and is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, the City University of New York.
Danyel Smith is the author of the novels More Like Wrestling and Bliss. She is the former editor of Billboard, former chief content officer of VIBE Media Group, and former editor-in-chief of Vibe and vibe.com. Smith is also a former Time Inc. editor-at-large, and has written for NPR, CNN, MySpace, Elle, Time, Essence, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Media Group, and The New York Times. A 2013-14 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, she often comments on music and culture for NPR, CNN, VH1, and ABC, and is currently working on a history of black women in pop music.
Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York and is the author of the novel We the Animals. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Glimmer Train and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher and a bookseller.