Pulitzer prize-winning authors headline BABEL’s 2022-2023 season | Local News

Three Pulitzer Prize-winning authors headline Just Buffalo Literary Center’s BABEL literary series during the 2022-2023 season.

The first half of the season will kick-off with journalist and environmentalist Elizabeth Kolbert at Kleinhans Music Hall on Oct. 22, with novelist and journalist Omar El Akkad coming Nov. 10.

The second half will feature novelist and short story writer Anthony Doerr on March 30, 2023, followed by journalist Isabel Wilkerson on April 26, 2023.

“All four are really focusing on the complexity of human connection,” said Barbara Cole, Just Buffalo’s artistic and associate executive director. “These are books that are of different genres you have novels, a book of nonfiction, a book of journalism but each is showing what it means to make a choice and how to summon the courage to take action.”

Elizabeth Kolbert

Mark Sommer

BABEL, which will enter its 16th season of bringing nationally and internationally renowned writers to Buffalo, attempts to address pressing global issues. Kolbert addresses climate change, deforestation and other environmental stresses in “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” which garnered the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

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“The sixth extinction is going to be potentially the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs, and we are the ones who are responsible for leaving this tremendous mark on the planet,” Cole said.

“I think one of the themes of the series is trying to think about what it actually means to care about the planet, about other people, and how we practice care and compassion in a world that doesn’t always feel so caring or compassionate, she said.

Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad

Mark Sommer

Egyptian-Canadian novelist and journalist El Akkad followed his debut novel “American War” with “What Strange Paradise,” which speaks about the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.

“His career is interesting because he started as a journalist reporting from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and covering the Arab Spring, but his novel is a fictional account on the refugee crisis,” Cole said.

Anthony Doer

Anthony Doer

Mark Sommer

Anthony Doerr’s historical fiction book about World War II, “All the Light We Cannot See,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. The book has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.

“It’s a literary phenomenon of our time,” Cole said. “The book is difficult to encapsulate because it’s about a little blind girl and a German orphan who communicate through a radio. It’s just a touching book that’s also about a million other things.”

“Both the El Akkad novel and Doerr’s book give us a boy and girl pairing that focuses on child characters, which seems interesting in a moment when we’re not feeling too innocent or hopeful,” Cole said.

Elizabeth Wilkerson

Elizabeth Wilkerson

Mark Sommer

Wilkerson, author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” and “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994.

“Wilkerson is just a breathtaking speaker and an amazing journalist who interviewed over 1,000 people for ‘The Warmth of Other Suns,'” Cole said.

“I think there are vast numbers of people who are not aware that six million people were part of this great migration,” she said. “It feels like a crucial chapter of American history that is frequently overlooked.”

Season subscriptions are available for $120. VIP patron subscriptions, which include a pre-event reception with the author, are $300, and student subscriptions, which require a student ID, are $36.

To learn more about the BABEL series or to purchase season subscriptions, visit justbuffalo.org.

Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, the waterfront, culture and more. He’s also a former arts editor at The News.


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