Sunday, April 28, 2019 Boston Park Plaza
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Boston Park Plaza
Thank you to our 2019 Literary Lights guests and sponsors.
Please save the date for next year's dinner: Sunday, April 26, 2020.
The 31st annual Literary Lights dinner was held on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at the Boston Park Plaza. This annual black tie optional event is our opportunity to honor outstanding writers from the Northeast and to celebrate their contributions to literature.
Dan Brown, Keynote Speaker
Dan Brown is the author of many novels, most notably the Robert Langdon stories: Angels & Demons (2000), The Da Vinci Code (2003), The Lost Symbol (2009), Inferno (2013) and Origin (2017), which have been translated into 56 languages and have sold more than 200 million copies. Each novel is a treasure hunt set in a 24-hour period, and features the recurring themes of cryptography, keys, symbols, codes, art, and conspiracy theories. Three of them, Angels & Demons (2000), The Da Vinci Code (2003) and Inferno (2013) have been adapted into successful films. In 2005, Mr. Brown was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Mr. Brown's novels that feature the lead character, Langdon, also include historical themes and Christian motifs and have generated controversy. Raised an Episcopalian, he says that his books are not anti-Christian, though he is on a 'constant spiritual journey' himself, and says that his book The Da Vinci Code is simply "an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate" and suggests that the book may be used "as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith." His latest novel, Origin, explores the questions: where do we come from and where are we going?
Born in Exeter, NH, he grew up on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy where his father was a math teacher and his mother was a church organist. Mr. Brown attended Amherst College, spent several years attempting to establish himself as a singer, songwriter and pianist in CA and now lives in New England with his wife, Blythe Newlon.
John Grogan is best known for his book, Marley and Me: My Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog (2005) which was made into a popular film in 2008. The success of the book led to quite a few spin-off children’s books, including Bad Dog, Marley, A Very Marley Christmas, and Marley Goes to School. Mr. Grogan was born in Detroit, MI to Roman Catholic parents of Irish descent. His memoir The Longest Trip Home is set in the town in which he grew up, Orchard Lake Village, MI. This coming of age story revolves around the “powerful love of family.” Mr. Grogan was inspired by his mother’s passion for storytelling and he started writing in elementary school. He majored in Journalism and English at Central Michigan University and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Journalism at Ohio State University. His journalistic career of more than 20 years has won him several state and national awards, including the National Press Club's Consumer Journalism Award. He now lives in rural eastern Pennsylvania in a 1790 farm home with his wife, Jenny Vogt, their three children, and two Labrador retrievers.
Jennifer Haigh is a novelist and short story writer who was born in Barnesboro, a Western Pennsylvania coal town 85 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. She attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2002. Her most recent book, Heat and Light, won a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was named a Best Book of 2016 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and NPR. Her other novels include Mrs. Kimble, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, Faith, The Condition and Baker Tower. Ms. Haigh’s short story collection, News from Heaven, won the Massachusetts Book Award and the PEN New England Award in Fiction. Her short stories and fiction have appeared in many publications including Granta, Ploughshares, Guernica, Electric Literature, and The Best American Short Stories anthology. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction in 2018. Ms. Haigh lives in Boston, MA.
Jeff Kinney is the author of the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He was born in Maryland and attended University of Maryland which is where he created a popular comic strip, Idgoof, for the campus newspaper. In 1998 he developed the idea of a middle-school weakling who writes and illustrates stories about his personal life. Mr. Kinney worked on the idea for six years before getting it published online on Funbrain.com. Since then, there have been more than 80 million views and is read by 70,000 kids each day. In 2006, Mr Kinney signed a multi-book deal with a publisher to turn the Diary of a Wimpy Kid into a print series and the books became instant best-sellers. There are now more than 200 million copies of the series in print worldwide in 59 languages and the books have been a fixture on the Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly and USA Today bestseller lists. The series of 16 books has been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 500 weeks, there are 2 do-it-yourself books and four movies.The series has won many regional and national awards around the world including two Children Book Awards and six Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards for Favorite Book. In 2009 Mr Kinney was named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People in the World. He is also the creator of Poptropica, which was named one of Time’s 50 Best Websites. Mr. Kinney, his wife and their two children now live in Plainville, MA where they own a bookstore, An Unlikely Story.
Min Jin Lee
Min Jin Lee is an author of best-selling novels and short stories tackling subjects of race, class, religion, diaspora and love, which have appeared in the New Yorker, NPR’s Selected Shorts, The NY Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Ms. Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to Queens, NY with her family. She attended Bronx High School of Science and was inducted into the Bronx Science Hall of Fame. At Yale University she was awarded the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction. After graduating from Georgetown Law School, she worked as a lawyer for several years before becoming a full-time writer. Her acclaimed 2007 debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires was a National Book Award finalist and a Top 10 Book of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air and USA Today. Ms. Lee lived in Tokyo for four years while researching and writing her 2017 sophomore novel, Pachinko, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Library Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017 and a New York Times bestseller. It is being translated into 27 languages. For three seasons she was a Morning Forum columnist for a major South Korea newspaper, received fellowships in fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, was named one of Adweek’s 2018 10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation. Ms. Lee will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College for 2019-2022, and now lives in Boston with her husband and son.
Jeffrey Toobin is a lawyer, blogger, author and pundit. He was born in New York City to parents who were both in the news industry. He attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School where he was the editor of the Harvard Law review. During the Iran–Contra affair, he served as an associate counsel in the Department of Justice. In 1993 Mr. Toobin switched from law to writing, becoming a staff writer at The New Yorker and, three years later, the legal analyst for CNN where he was the first to interview Martha Stewart regarding her insider trading charges. His book on the O.J. Simpson murder case, was adapted in 2016 as a TV series, The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and won numerous Emmy awards. Mr. Toobin has provided broadcast legal analysis on many high-profile cases. In 1994, he broke the story in The New Yorker that the O. J. Simpson legal team in his criminal trial planned to play "the race card" by accusing Mark Fuhrman of planting evidence. Mr. Toobin provided analysis of Michael Jackson's 2005 child molestation trial, the O.J. Simpson civil case, and the Starr investigation of President Clinton. He received a 2000 Emmy Award for his coverage of the Elián González custody saga. Mr. Toobin is the author of seven books including The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (2007) which received awards from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, published in 2012, and his most recent book, American Heiress: The Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, came out in 2016. All were New York Times Best-Sellers. Mr. Toobin lives in New York City with his wife, Amy Bennett McIntosh, and his three children.
In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of these outstanding writers, proceeds from Literary Lights support the David McCullough Conservation Fund, William O. Taylor Art Preservation Fund, Associates Endowment Fund, and the Associates of the Boston Public Library's operations.
If you would like to receive a mailed invitation or for more information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact the Associates office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 536-3886. Thank you.