Boston Public Library
Programs and Events

Author Talk Series at the Central Library

Boston Public Library author talks feature a wide range of talented writers. Hear authors read from their books, purchase a copy, get it signed, and learn about the creative process that gets such magnificent stories told. To look for even more author talks taking place at Boston Public Library locations, please use our calendar of events.

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Historical Fiction Panel with Amy Belding Brown, author of Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America, Nadia Hashimi, author of The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: A Novel, and Ha Jin, author of A Map of Betrayal: A Novel. This panel will be moderated by William Martin.

Thursday
Feb. 19
6 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon

700 Boylston Street
Belding

Amy Belding Brown’s Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America. Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan minister’s wife captured by Indians in 1676, the novel explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance. Brown is the author of Mr. Emerson’s Wife, and her work has appeared in Yankee, Good Housekeeping, and American Way.

HashimiNadia Hashimi’s debut novel The Pearl that Broke Its Shell tells a tale of powerlessness and fate. In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters cannot leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress as a boy. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother built a new life the same way. Crisscrossing in time, the book interweaves the tales of two women separated by a century who share similar destinies.

Jin
Photo credit: Jerry Bauer
Award-winning author Ha Jin’s A Map of Betrayal explores the complicated terrain of love and honor. The haunting tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries – China and the United States – and two families. Jin has received the National Book Award, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, and the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, among others.



MartinWilliam Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, an award-winning PBS documentary, book reviews, magazine articles, and a cult-classic horror movie, too. His first novel, Back Bay  appeared in 1980 and his latest, The Lincoln Letter, in 2012. Across four decades, he has been telling the American story through the eyes of the great and the anonymous, sweeping his readers from the deck of the Mayflower in 1620 to Washington in the Civil War to Lower Manhattan on 9/​11. Publisher's Weekly has called him a writer "whose smoothness matches his ambition," and he was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious New England Book Award, given to an author "whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region." He lives near Boston with his wife and has three grown children.

Author Talk with Dennis Lehane, author of World Gone By: A Novel

Thursday
Mar. 12
6 p.m.

Guastavino Room

700 Boylston Street
Lehane
Photo Credit: Gaby Gerster/ © Diogenes Verlag

In World Gone By, a psychologically and morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, former crime kingpin Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal past in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II. Dennis Lehane vividly recreates the rise of the mob during a world at war, from an Ash Wednesday gun battle in the streets of Ybor City to a chilling climax in a Cuban sugar cane field. Lehane grew up in the Dorchester section of Boston. He is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including The Given Day and Live by Night. Three of his books (Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone, and Shutter Island) have been made into award-winning films. Lehane adapted his short story “Animal Rescue” into a feature film called The Drop, which was released in September 2014. Lehane also serves on the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees.

Seating is limited and on a first come first serve basis.

Author Talk with Dick Lehr, author of The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War

Wednesday
Mar. 25
6 p.m.

Abbey Room

700 Boylston Street
lehr

In 1915, the crusading Boston editor William Monroe Trotter attempted to censor filmmaker D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, inciting a public confrontation. Dick Lehr explores how the fight roiled America, pitting black against white, Hollywood against Boston, and free speech against civil rights. He also examines how Trotter’s titanic crusade became a blueprint for dissent during the 1950s and 1960s. Lehr, a professor of journalism at Boston University, was a reporter at the Boston Globe for nearly two decades. He has won numerous national and regional journalism awards and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Lehr is the author of The Fence, a Boston Globe bestseller, and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal and its sequel Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss.

 

Author talk with Ben Yagoda, author of The B Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song

Thursday
Apr. 09
6 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon

700 Boylston Street
Yagoda.jpg
Photo Credit: Maria Yagoda

Everybody knows and loves the American Songbook, but few remember that this stream of great songs nearly vanished in the early 1950s. All of a sudden, “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” replaced Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin on the radio. In The B Side, acclaimed cultural historian Ben Yagoda explores the reasons behind the shift in a fascinating piece of detective work. Drawing on previously untapped archival sources, The B Side illuminates broad musical trends through a series of intertwined stories. Yagoda is a journalism professor at the University of Delaware. He contributes to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog and has written for Slate and the New York Times Magazine.

 

Author Talk with Roseanne Montillo, author of The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer

Wednesday
Apr. 15
6 p.m.

Abbey Room

700 Boylston Street
Montillo

In the late nineteenth-century, a serial killer preying on children was on the loose in Boston – a wilderness of ruin caused by the Great Fire of 1872. Authorities believed the abductions were the handiwork of a psychopath, until they discovered that their killer – fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy – was barely older than his victims. The criminal investigation that followed sparked a debate among the world’s most revered medical minds and had a long-lasting impact on the judicial system and medical consciousness for decades. In The Wilderness of Ruin, Roseanne Montillo explores how the case that reverberated through all of Boston society sheds light on our modern hunger for the prurient and sensational. Montillo is the author of The Lady and Her Monsters and is a professor of literature at Emerson College.

 

Author Talk with Nathan Gorenstein, author of Tommy Gun Winter: Jewish Gangsters, a Preacher’s Daughter, and the Trial That Shocked 1930s Boston

Wednesday
Apr. 22
6 p.m.

Abbey Room

700 Boylston Street
Gorenstein

In Tommy Gun Winter, Nathan Gorenstein tells the true tale of two brothers who – along with an MIT graduate and a minister’s daughter – once competed for headlines with John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde. Their crimes and the dogged investigation that followed led to the longest murder trial in Massachusetts state history. Gorenstein explores how the Boston saga of sex, ethnicity, and bloodshed made the trio and their “red-headed gun moll” infamous in Depression-era America. He also examines the Millen, Faber, and Brighton families and introduces the cops, psychiatrists, newspaper men and women, and the ordinary citizens who were caught up in the extraordinary Tommy Gun Winter of 1934. Gorenstein is a former investigative reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.

 

Robert Love’s Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston

Wednesday
May. 06
6 p.m.

Abbey Room

700 Boylston Street
Robert Love’s Warnings

In colonial America, warning out was a way for a community to regulate those to whom it would extend welfare. Between 1765 and 1774, Robert Love warned four thousand itinerants, including migrant workers, demobilized British soldiers, and other newcomers. Cornelia Hughes Dayton will discuss why so many people were on the move throughout the British Atlantic and why they came to Boston. She is Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut.

 

Author talk with Marian Parry, author of The Paris Book

Thursday
May. 07
6 p.m.

Abbey Room

700 Boylston Street
Parry
Marian Parry at The Paris Book Garden Party (Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 1, 2014) Copyright © Judith Aronson.

Created in 1952 by author, poet, and artist Marian Parry, The Paris Book remained unpublished until last year, when Un-Gyve released a limited edition of this beautiful volume of watercolors. Featuring twenty extraordinary illustrations accompanied by Parry’s own hand-lettered prose, The Paris Book represents her affinity for the city in which she spent the first years of childhood. The main archive of Parry’s work is in the print collection of the Boston Public Library as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Houghton Library of Harvard University, and the Smith College Rare Book Room.

 

Boston and the American Revolution

Monday
Jun. 01
6 p.m.

Abbey Room

700 Boylston Street

The American RevolutionWhy did the Revolution begin in Boston?  What caused Bostonians to be more rebellious than other British subjects in North America?  What were the Revolution's consequences in Boston and beyond?
Professor Robert Allison will examine these questions and discuss the consequences of the Revolution in Boston and beyond. Robert J. Allison is chairman of the history department of Suffolk University and teaches courses in American Constitutional history and the history of Boston at Harvard Extension School. He recently taught the popular massive online open course on the history of Boston.  He is vice president of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. His many books include The Boston Massacre,  A Short History of Boston, and The American Revolution: A Concise History. 

Author talk with Rosana Wan, author of The Culinary Lives of John & Abigail Adams: A Cookbook

Tuesday
Jun. 23
6 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon

700 Boylston Street
Wan

Throughout their fifty-four-year marriage, John and Abigail Adams enjoyed diverse cuisine in both Massachusetts and Europe. Raised with traditional New England palates, they feasted on cod, mince pie, and plum pudding. These recipes, as well as dishes from published cookbooks settlers brought from the Old World such as roast duck and Strawberry Fool, are included in this historical cookbook. Together or separate, at home or abroad, this extraordinary couple humbly experienced an international style of cookery that inspired modern American culinary culture. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the United States, Rosana Wan is a park ranger at the Adams National Historical Park, a sergeant in the Army National Guard, and the first recipient of the John C. Cavanagh Prize in History at Suffolk University.

 

Discussion with Erika DeSimone, Editor of Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

Thursday
Sept. 17
6 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon

700 Boylston Street
Desimone

Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century is a collection of 150 poems culled from burgeoning black-owned newspapers of the era. These poems are not the work of a few elite literary masters but were penned mostly by everyday people compelled to verse. Whether they were formally schooled or self-taught, whether they were slaves, free peoples, or the descendants of slaves, African Americans put ink to paper and declared their passions in verse. Until now, these poems – and an entire literary movement – were lost to modern readers. Erika DeSimone is currently an editorial assistant at the Modern Language Association.