Jayne Anne Phillips is a short story writer and novelist.  She was born and raised in West Virginia. Her first book of stories, Black Tickets, published in 1979 when she was 26, won the prestigious Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, awarded by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.  Her novels include Machine Dreams, Shelter, MotherKind, Lark and Termite and Quiet Dell.  She is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Director of the Rutgers Newark MFA Program at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. http://jayneannephillips.com/

Nina McConigley is the author of the story collection Cowboys and East Indians, which was the winner of the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and winner of a High Plains Book Award. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where she was an Inprint Brown Foundation Fellow.

Richard Phibbs

Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. His newest novel is, The Snow Queen. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University. www.michaelcunninghamwriter.com

Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.

Neil Giordano

Heidi Pitlor is the author of the novel The Birthdays of which Fred Leebron wrote "Undeniably gratifying...subtly riveting...This isn't just a terrific family novel; it's a terrific novel through and through." Heidi was formerly a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin and is presently the annual series editor for The Best American Short Stories. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers.

This week on CrossCurrents, part 2 of The Great Book Series at the Aspen Institute. Senior moderators Pete Thigpen and Todd Breyfogle are guests.

Also Walter Isaacson, CEO and President of the Aspen Institute, on his new book, The Innovators.

About the Great Book Series from the Aspen Institute website:

A former National Book Award finalist and winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Jess Walter is the author of six novels, including The Beautiful Ruins and The Zero, one book of short stories and one nonfiction book. His work has been translated into 30 languages, and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, Esquire, McSweeney's, Byliner, Playboy, ESPN the Magazine, Details and many others. www.jesswalter.com.

Smeeta Mahanti

Anthony Marra is the New York Times-bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, longlisted for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. It was selected as one of the ten best books of 2013 by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, New York Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, among numerous other year-end lists. He is the winner of the Whiting Award, the Pushcart Prize, and currently teaches at Stanford University.  www.anthonymarra.net

Paolo Giordano was born in Turin in 1982. He has a Master’s degree and a doctorate in theoretical physics. His novels are The Solitude of Prime Numbers and The Human Body.  Both novels have been translated – or are being translated – into many languages. Paolo Giordano also writes for Il Corriere della Sera. 


Stephen Geffre

Stephan Eirik Clark is the author of Sweetness #9 and the short story collection Vladimir’s Mustache, a finalist for the 2013 Minnesota Book Award.

Born in West Germany to a Norwegian mother and a Texan father, Clark split much of his childhood between England and the United States, and has lived in five states and five countries, including Ukraine, where he served a Fulbright Fellowship, and Russia.