We were so blown away by the lineup for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Ten Evenings 2016-17 Season that we decided to ask Executive Director Stephanie Flom for the inside scoop on her curatorial process…
Curating the Season
Putting together Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures 10 Evenings Season (with lots of support from our fantastic staff) is probably the most invigorating and terrifying part of my job. The goal is a dynamic mix of authors with new books and a season that has its own narrative. A mix of genres, fiction/non-fiction, and styles are a part of it. There is no prescription, no rules (except high quality) and that’s the art of it!
Year of the Memoir
2015 and 2016 have seen the publication of such strong literary memoirs by women with powerful stories to tell. And they are all so different. Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist is funny, sassy, and political, while Patti Smith’s M Train is poetic, a sweeping romp across time, art, and landscape. Diane Rehm shares a deeply moving personal account of the death of her husband and Helen Macdonald’s incorporates the grief of her father’s death into a philosophical journey spun around her training of a goshawk. Different and wonderful, wonderfully different—and we happily made room on our slate for them all!
There are authors who have had such a big book in the past that you wait with baited breath for their next one to be released. And sometimes you have to be very patient. It is thrilling to open the season with Siddhartha Mukherjee and his new book after the treasure he has given us with The Emperor of All Maladies. Last year Olive Kitteridge rebounded into our hearts with the mini-series, but I patiently awaited Elizabeth Strout’s new book. My Name is Lucy Barton is another stunner about strong, difficult women. Tim Egan was another “pounce” as soon as I learned about his new book—and what an amazing story it is—a charismatic Irish Revolutionary fighting in the US Civil War. Wild!
That Beautiful Novel
Last year it was Anthony Doerr with All The Light We Cannot See. This year it is Lauren Groff with Fates and Furies. They were both breakout books that I fell in love with right away and knew there would be a place on the season for them.