2023-24 Visiting Writers

All events free and open to the public.


  • Masha Gessen, September 20
  • Leila Aboulela, October 16
  • Valzhyna Mort, November 15
  • Edwidge Danticat: PEN-Malamud Award, December 1

Masha GessenSeptember 20, 8:00, SIS Founder's Room 

Masha Gessen is the author of eleven books, including Surviving Autocracy and The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the National Book Award in 2017. They have written about Russia, Ukraine, autocracy, LGBT rights, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, among other subjects, for the New York Review of Books and New York Times. On a parallel track, they have been a science journalist, writing about AIDS, medical genetics, and mathematics; famously, they were dismissed as the editor of the Russian popular-science magazine Vokrug sveta for refusing to send a reporter to observe Putin hang-gliding with Siberian cranes. They are a Distinguished Professor at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, a Nieman Fellowship, the John Chancellor Award, the Hitchens Prize, and the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Commentary. In 2017, they became a staff writer at the New Yorker. After more than twenty years as a journalist and editor in Moscow, Gessen now lives in New York.

Leila AboulelaOctober 16, 7:00, SIS Founder's Room 

Leila Aboulela is a Sudanese writer whose work has received critical recognition and a high profile for its depiction of the interior lives of Muslim women and its distinctive exploration of identity, migration and Islamic spirituality. She is the author of six novels: River Spirit, Bird SummonsMinaret, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year; The Kindness of Enemies; and Lyrics Alley, Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. Aboulela was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home, won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages and she was long-listed three times for the Orange Prize, (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction). Aboulela grew up in Khartoum and moved in her mid-twenties to Aberdeen.

Valzhyna MortNovember 15, 7:00, SIS Founder's Room

Valzhyna Mort is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author of three poetry collections, Factory of Tears (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), Collected Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2011) and, mostly recently, Music for the Dead and Resurrected (FSG, 2020), named one of the best poetry book of 2020 by The New York Times and NPR, and the winner of the 2020 International Griffin Poetry Prize and the 2022 UNT Rilke Prize. Mort is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, the Lannan Foundation, and the Amy Clampitt Foundation. Mort teaches at Cornell University and writes in English and Belarusian.

Edwidge Danticat: PEN-Malamud AwardDecember 1, SIS Founder's Room 

Details forthcoming: see PEN/Faulker website for more information.