Program Director, Mentor
Chigozie Obioma was born in Akure, Nigeria. His first two novels, The Fishermen (2015) and An Orchestra of Minorities (2019) were both finalists for the Booker prize. His novels have been translated into more than 29 languages and won the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, an NAACP Image Award, the LA Times Book prize, the Internationaler literaturpreis and was nominated for many other awards. The Fishermen was adapted into an award-winning stage play by Gbolahan Obisesan that played in the UK and South Africa between 2018-2019. He was named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015. He is the James E. Ryan Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and divides his time between the US and Nigeria.
Scott Cairns is the author of ten poetry collections, including Idiot Psalms, Slow Pilgrim, and Anaphora. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, etc., and has been anthologized in Best Spiritual Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing. He has also written a spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, a theological meditation, The End of Suffering, and libretti for the oratoria “The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp” and “A Melancholy Beauty.” His spiritual memoir was also released in Greek and Romanian editions. Cairns has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was awarded the Denise Levertov Award in 2014. He was Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English at University of Missouri, and currently directs Seattle Pacific University's MFA in Creative Writing. Cairns is the founding director of Writing Workshops in Greece, a program that brings writers to engage with literary life in modern Greece.
Rebecca Makkai’s last novel, The Great Believers, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; it was the winner of the ALA Carnegie Medal, the Stonewall Book Award, the Clark Prize, and the LA Times Book Prize; and it was one of the New York Times' Ten Best Books of 2018. Her other books are the novels The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime—four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Rebecca is on the MFA faculties of the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe and Northwestern University, and is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.
Ailah Ahmed is a publishing director of fiction at Penguin Random House in London. Over a career of fifteen years, she has published Chigozie Obioma, Monica Ali, Ruth Ozeki, Lauren Groff, Richard Powers, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Amor Towles and Tom Hanks.
Bill Clegg is a literary agent in New York and the author of the bestselling memoirs Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days. The author of the novels Did You Ever Have a Family and The End of the Day, he has been longlisted for The National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, PEN/Robert Bingham Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. He’s written for the New York Times, Lapham’s Quarterly, New York Magazine, The Guardian and Vogue.
Mary-Alice Daniel was born near the Niger/Nigeria border and raised in England and Tennessee. Her writing has appeared in the American Poetry Review, the Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, the Yale Review,
Callaloo, and the Best New Poets anthology.
Mass for Shut-Ins, her first book of poetry, won the 2022 Yale Younger Poets Prize and was released in March. Selecting this collection, judge Rae Armantrout called it “Flowers of Evil for the 21st century.”
Last November, Ecco/Harper Collins published Daniel’s first book of prose,
A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing, a migrant memoir chosen as People’s Book of the Week and one of Kirkus Review’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2022.
A Cave Canem Fellow, she holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from the University of Southern California. She is presently working on her third and fourth books as a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University.
Yukiko Duke was born in Stockholm, Sweden. She is a literary critic and organizer of international literary festivals in the Nordic countries, specializing in events that combine literature with other art forms. Yukiko was the Artistic Director of Stockholm Literature and is now the Artistic Advisor of the Norwegian Festival of Literature. Of Swedish-Japanese origin, she is the author of four critically acclaimed books on Japanese culture and has translated over 20 literary works from Japanese, among them works of Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe and Haruki Murakami.
Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland and lives in London. Her first novel, Black Mamba Boy, won the Betty Trask Prize; it was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the PEN Open Book Award. Her second novel, Orchard of Lost Souls, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the Prix Albert Bernard. Nadifa Mohamed was selected for the Granta Best of Young British Novelists in 2013, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. The Fortune Men was shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize and the Costa Novel Award and won Wales' Book of the Year.
Dimosthenis Papamarkos was born in Malessina, Central Greece. He studied Classical History in the University of Athens and University of Oxford. His work includes novels, short story collections, graphic novels, as well as screenplays and theatre plays. His latest short story collection, Gjak [Blood], met with phenomenal critical and commercial success, and in 2015 won the Academy of Athens Literary Prize and the critics circle award of the literary magazine O Anagnostis [The Reader]. It has since been translated in Russian and German, and has been adapted with success for the theatre by three of the most influential theatre directors in Greece. His short story collections, his plays and his comics have won or been shortlisted for some of the most important prizes in their fields in Greece. Dimosthenis has also collaborated both as a writer and dramaturgist with Greece’s most prominent theatre stages (National Theatre of Greece, State Theatre of Northern Greece, Stegi of Onassis Foundation) and the Theatre of Stuttgart. He has received the “Onassis Artistic Research Fellowship” for the years 2019-2020. Short stories of his have been published in domestic and foreign press.
Fiammetta Rocco is a senior editor and the culture correspondent at The Economist. Her journalism has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic. Fiammetta has been the judge of numerous prizes for fiction and non-fiction, and is also the administrator of the International Booker Prize. Of Franco-Italian origin, she grew up in Kenya and read Arabic at Oxford University. Her book, “The Miraculous Fever Tree”, about malaria and the discovery of quinine, was published in Britain and in America. She and her family live between London and Scotland.
Anuradha Roy has written five widely read novels, among which Sleeping on Jupiter won the DSC Prize for Fiction 2016 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015. All the Lives We Never Lived won the Sahitya Akademi, one of India’s highest literary honours, and was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. It won Tata Literature Live Book of the Year. The Folded Earth won the Economist Crossword Prize and her latest book, The Earthspinner, won the Sushila Devi Prize. All her books, most notably her debut, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, have been translated into many languages. She also writes essays and journalism. Roy was writer-in-residence at the Maison des Écrivains Étrangers et des Traducteurs in France, and has been a visiting speaker at Cornell and Cordoba Universities. She lives in Ranikhet, India, where she runs a scholarly press, Permanent Black, with her partner Rukun Advani and four dogs.