Three Pulitzer Prize-winning authors headline Just Buffalo Literary Center’s BABEL literary series during the 2022-23 season.
The first half of the season will kick off with journalist and environmentalist Elizabeth Kolbert at Kleinhans Music Hall on October 22, with novelist and journalist Omar El Akkad on November 10.
The second half will feature novelist and short story writer Anthony Doerr on March 30, 2023, followed by journalist Isabel Wilkerson on April 26, 2023.
“All four really focus on the complexity of human connection,” said Barbara Cole, Executive Artistic Director and Associate of Just Buffalo. “These are books that are of different genres – you have novels, a non-fiction book, a journalism book – but each shows what it means to make a choice and how to find the courage to act.”
BABEL, which will enter its 16th season by bringing nationally and internationally acclaimed writers to Buffalo, attempts to address pressing global issues. Kolbert tackles climate change, deforestation and other environmental stresses in “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.
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“The sixth extinction is going to be potentially the greatest extinction since the dinosaurs, and it’s us who are responsible for leaving this huge mark on the planet,” Cole said.
“I think one of the themes of the show is trying to think about what it really means to care about the planet, about others, and how we practice caring and compassion in a world that doesn’t always feel so caring. or compassionate,” she said.
Egyptian-Canadian novelist and journalist El Akkad followed up his debut novel “American War” with “What Strange Paradise,” which talks about the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.
“His career is interesting because he started out as a journalist reporting on Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and covering the Arab Spring, but his novel is a fictional account of the refugee crisis,” Cole said.
Anthony Doerr’s WWII historical fiction book ‘All the Light We Can’t See’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. The book has sold over 15 million copies in the world.
“It’s a literary phenomenon of our time,” Cole said. “The book is hard to sum up because it’s about a little blind girl and an orphan from Germany who communicate by radio. It’s just a touching book that also talks about a million other things.”
“Both El Akkad’s novel and Doerr’s book give us a boy and girl couple that focuses on the child characters, which feels interesting at a time when we don’t feel too innocent or full of hope,” Cole said.
Wilkerson, author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” and “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents”, won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Film in 1994.
“Wilkerson is just an amazing speaker and journalist who’s interviewed over 1,000 people for ‘The Warmth of Other Suns,'” Cole said.
“I think there’s a lot of people who don’t know that six million people were part of this great migration,” she said. “It feels like a pivotal chapter in American history that is often overlooked.”
Season passes are available for $120. VIP memberships, which include a pre-event reception with the author, are $300, and student memberships, which require a student ID, are $36.
To learn more about the BABEL series or to purchase season passes, visit justbuffalo.org.
Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, waterfront, culture and more. He is also a former arts editor for The News.