Maya Shanbhag Lang

Maya Shanbhag Lang is the author of What We Carry, named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a Best Memoir of 2020 by Amazon, “Good Morning America,” and others. She is also the author of The Sixteenth of June, a modern riff on Ulysses, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. In 2021, the American Civil Rights Museum named her a “Woman You Should Know.” Winner of the Neil Shepard Prize in Fiction, she holds a PhD in Comparative Literature.

Mary Bly

Mary Bly is the chair of the English Department at Fordham University, and a New York Times bestselling author of historical romance novels under the pen name Eloisa James. She has published more than thirty books, translated in twenty-six languages, with sales worldwide of seven million. Her most recent novel is The Reluctant Countess (2022). She also wrote the New York Times bestselling memoir Paris in Love about the year her family spent in France; and Lizzie and Dante, a novel set in Italy, under her own name. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. She currently lives in New York.

W. Ralph Eubanks

W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape. He is also the author of two other books: Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past and The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South. He has contributed articles to The Washington Post’s Outlook and Style sections, WIRED, The Hedgehog Review, The Wall Street Journal, The American Scholar, The New Yorker, and NPR. A graduate of the University of Mississippi (BA) and the University of Michigan (MA, English Language and Literature), he is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation. Mr. Eubanks lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and three children. He is currently a faculty fellow and writer-in-residence at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

Peter Petre

Peter Petre co-wrote Arnold Schwarzenegger’s memoir, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, a New York Times bestseller. He also co-authored Alan Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. Mr. Petre has co-written two other bestsellers: General H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s It Doesn’t Take a Hero and Thomas J. Watson Jr.’s Father, Son & Co.: My Life at IBM and Beyond. He assisted on Steven Rattner’s Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry and on Robert S. McNamara’s In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. Mr. Petre was executive editor at Fortune, where he directed coverage of infotech, biotech, medicine, industrial technology, and science. He holds a BA from the University of Iowa and an MA from Johns Hopkins University. He and his wife, Ann Banks, live in New York City.

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, three collections of short stories, a children’s book, and a collection of essays. She has been nominated for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Ms. Bloom has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, O Magazine, and Vogue, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into 18 languages. She has written many pilot scripts for cable and network, and she created, wrote, and ran the short-lived series State of Mind, starring Lili Taylor. She lives in Connecticut and is now Director for the Shapiro Center at Wesleyan University.

Council Members

Rich Benjamin

Rich Benjamin is a cultural anthropologist whose writing focuses on contemporary U.S. politics and culture, specializing in democracy, social relations, space and place, demographics, and race. He is also a sought-after lecturer, often interviewed in the national and international media. His essays appear regularly in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review section. Mr. Benjamin is completing a family memoir that doubles as a portrait of post-Cold War America. The book tackles critical questions of migration, diaspora, racialization, and nation-making. Talk to Me will be published by Pantheon/Knopf Doubleday. Mr. Benjamin’s first book, Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America, won an Editor’s Choice Award from the American Library Association. Now in its second printing, this groundbreaking anthropological study is one of few to have illuminated in advance the rise of white anxiety and “Trumpism” in contemporary U.S. life. Mr. Benjamin’s past and ongoing research have received significant support from Civitella, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Russell Sage Foundation, Columbia Law School, the Bellagio Center, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Benjamin’s community citizenship is to serve on a few Boards of Trustees: Art Omi, the renowned arts center; New Public, the pro-democracy technology venture; and the Authors Guild, the national union for writers that has been protecting free speech and authors’ rights since 1912.

Mary Bly

Please see Dr. Bly’s biography under Officers

Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a twenty-four-time USA Today bestselling author, and a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance novels. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Ms. Bowen holds a BA in economics from Yale University. A New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country in the 1760s, she is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. She lives with her family on a few wooded acres in New Hampshire. Ms. Bowen’s books are published in more than a dozen languages with fifteen international publishers.

Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani is the author of four novels, most recently Leading Men, for which he received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, MacDowell, and the Mass Cultural Council, among others. His book of essays on narration in fiction, The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story, was published by Graywolf Press in 2016. Christopher is on the fiction faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and he chairs the writing panel for the national YoungArts foundation. He is the founder of GrubStreet’s Muse & the Marketplace national writers’ conference, which he directed for twenty years. In 2015, he was awarded the Barnes and Noble/Poets & Writers “Writer for Writers” Award in recognition of his contributions to the literary community and his generosity toward fellow writers. For the 2022-2023 academic year, he is the Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University. He lives in Boston and Provincetown.

Sylvia Day

Sylvia Day is the bestselling author of more than twenty award-winning novels, including ten New York Times bestsellers and thirteen USA Today bestsellers. She is a number one bestselling author in twenty-nine countries, with translations in forty-one languages and more than twenty million copies of her books in print. Ms. Day divides her time between Las Vegas, Seattle, and Manhattan.

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women, and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is at work on television and film projects. She also has a newsletter, The Audacity, and a podcast, The Roxane Gay Agenda.

Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob is a novelist, memoirist, illustrator, and cultural critic. Her graphic memoir Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, nominated for three Eisner Awards, and named a New York Times Notable Book, as well as a best book of the year by Time, Esquire, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library Journal. It is currently in development as a television series. Her novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata Literature Life First Book Award, longlisted for the Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize and named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. Her writing and drawings have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Electric Literature, Tin House, Literary Hub, Guernica, Vogue, and the Telegraph. She is currently as Assistant Professor at the Creative Writing MFA Program at The New School, and a founding faculty member of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Randolph College.

Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, internet politics, and the future of humanism. Dr. Lanier’s books have won varied awards, including the 2014 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Harvard’s Goldsmith Book Prize, and best book of the year at literary events such as the San Francisco Book Festival. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Discover, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, Wired Magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. In 2018, he was named one of the twenty-five most influential people in the previous twenty-five years of tech history by Wired. He’s also been named one of the hundred most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy Magazine, and top fifty World Thinkers by Prospect Magazine. In 2009, he received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE, the preeminent international engineering.

Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking publishing guide that Vanity Fair recently named one of the ten best books for writers, Before and After the Book Deal, and the memoir The Year of the Horses, chosen by The Today Show as the best read for mental health awareness. A writing coach, executive director of the nonprofit learning collaborative The Cabins, and educator, Ms. Maum’s mission is to help people hold on to the joy of artmaking in a culture obsessed with turning artists into brands. Her publishing tips newsletter and online masterclasses can be found at

Jaunique Sealey

Jaunique Sealey is an accomplished multi-disciplinary professional. As an attorney, author, executive, and strategist, she has helped devise a platinum-selling album release, led award-winning marketing agency work, created her own bestselling novel series, and launched multiple companies from concept to revenue, including a cosmetics brand on QVC. Her unique experience-based insights have been featured by national and international platforms such as SXSW, Forbes, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Fox News. Under the pen name Jayne Allen, Ms. Sealey is the author of Black Girls Must Die Exhausted. Initially self-published, her groundbreaking debut novel was acquired by the Harper Perennial imprint along with its sequel books, Black Girls Must Be Magic and Black Girls Must Have It All. Black Girls Must Be Magic was named as one of the seven Best Novels of 2022 by Essence Magazine. She has been reviewed by The New York Times Book Review, and has been featured on Good Morning America, and in USA Today, BuzzFeed, Black Enterprise, HOUR Detroit Magazine, and numerous other publications. Also a non-fiction author, Ms. Sealey wrote and published Piece of the Fame, and Regroup, both acclaimed titles delivering her business expertise and general advice in the areas of social media, brand development, and entrepreneurship. Since 2018, through her online educational platform Book Genius, she has served hundreds of largely under-represented authors with writing and marketing resources and instruction. A graduate of Duke University Pratt School of Engineering and Harvard Law School, Ms. Sealey spent a decade as an entertainment attorney and another decade as an entrepreneur, turnaround strategist, and marketing executive, serving as a founder and founding executive management for several companies and brands.

James Shapiro

James Shapiro has taught English Literature at Columbia University since 1985. His books include Shakespeare and the Jews; Oberammergau; 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare; Contested Will; The Year of Lear: 1606; and Shakespeare in a Divided America. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, the London Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, and the Financial Times. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. In 2011, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Danielle Trussoni

Danielle Trussoni is the New York Times and international bestselling author of seven books, including Angelology and The Ancestor, and the memoir Falling Through the Earth, which was chosen as one of the ten Best Books of the year by The New York Times. She currently writes the Dark Matters monthly book column for The New York Times Book Review. Ms. Trussoni was the 2020 chair jurist for The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Her most recent novel, The Puzzle Master, will be available in June 2023. She currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Honorary Members of the Council

Pat Cummings

Author and/or illustrator of more than 40 books, Pat Cummings edited the award-winning series Talking with Artists, which profiles prominent children’s book illustrators. Recipient of the Orbis Pictus, Coretta Scott King, and Boston Globe-Horn Book awards, she writes and illustrates for readers from “their first taste of a board-book until they outgrow pictures.” She is a member of the Writers Guild of America and serves on the board of advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the board of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, the board of directors of the Authors Guild Foundation, and as president of the Authors League Fund. Ms. Cummings teaches children’s book illustration and writing at The New School’s Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute.