This week, author Tom Piazza discusses his novel The Auburn Conference with Booklist editor Donna Seaman. This conversation originally took place September 10, 2023 and was recorded live at the American Writers Museum.
About The Auburn Conference:
It is 1883, and America is at a crossroads. At a tiny college in Upstate New York, an idealistic young professor has managed to convince Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Confederate memoirist Forrest Taylor, and romance novelist Lucy Comstock to participate in the first (and last) Auburn Writers’ Conference for a public discussion about the future of the nation. By turns brilliantly comic and startlingly prescient, The Auburn Conference vibrates with questions as alive and urgent today as they were in 1883—the chronic American conundrums of race, class, and gender, and the fate of the democratic ideal.
TOM PIAZZA is celebrated both as a novelist and as a writer on American music. His twelve books include the novels The Auburn Conference and City Of Refuge, the short-story collection Blues and Trouble, the post-Katrina manifesto Why New Orleans Matters, and the essay collection Devil Sent The Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America. He was a principal writer for the innovative New Orleans-based HBO drama series TREME and the winner of a Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey. He lives in New Orleans.
DONNA SEAMAN is Editor, Adult Books for Booklist. A recipient of the Louis Shores Award for excellence in book reviewing, the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism, and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, Seaman is a member of the Content Leadership Team for the American Writers Museum, a frequent presenter at various literary events and programs, and an adjunct professor for Northwestern University’s MA in Writing and MFA in MFA in Prose and Poetry Programs. Seaman’s author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air and she is the author of Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists.