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  • Event
  • In-Person: Seaport
  • Adult (18+)

The Writing Life with Jonathan Escoffery and Laura van den Berg

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  • $0.00 Non-Member
  • $0.00 Member

Event Description

From the hours and years of invisible work to the visible end product, from carving out space for your practice to seeking artistic community, what sustains a writing life?

Join GrubStreet’s 2024 Literary Ambassadors, renowned authors Jonathan Escoffery and Laura van den Berg, for a conversation on their work, careers, and what makes their writing lives possible. The discussion will be moderated by author Stacy Mattingly.

This event is free to attend, and open to all. A pre-event reception will begin at 6pm and the event will conclude time for audience questions. Sales of the featured speakers’ books will be provided by our partners at Porter Square Books: Boston Edition. Registration is requested.

About the Authors

Jonathan Escoffery is the author of If I Survive You, a New York Times and Booklist Editor’s Choice, an IndieNext Pick, and an International Bestseller. If I Survive You was nominated for more than a dozen prizes and awards internationally, including the National Book Award, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the Story Prize, and was a finalist for the Booker Prize, the Dublin Literary Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize, and the Southern Book Prize. If I Survive You received American Short Fiction‘s 2023 Constellation Award for a Story Collection and was named Miami New Times’ 2023 Best Book by a Local Author. It was named a ‘best’ book of 2022 by NPR, The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, People, TIME, Oprah Daily, L.A. Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Vox, Kirkus, BookPage, Real Simple, Literary Hub, and elsewhere.

In 2023, Jonathan was named among the 36 Forces Shaping the Cultural Conversation by Harper’s Bazaar. He was a 2021-2023 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and won The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for Fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 2020. His story “Under the Ackee Tree” was among the trio that won the Paris Review the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and was subsequently anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing 2020. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Observer, The Paris Review, Oprah Daily, Electric Literature, Zyzzyva, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere.

Laura van den Berg was born and raised in Florida. She is the author of five works of fiction, including The Third Hotel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and I Hold a Wolf by the Ears (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), which was one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2020. She is the recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her next two novels, State of Paradise and Ring of Night, are forthcoming from FSG in 2024 and 2026.

Laura’s other honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, and the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a $25,000 annual prize given to “a young writer of proven excellence in poetry or prose.” She has twice been shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

Laura’s stories have appeared in The Paris Review, BOMB, Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, Freeman’s, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, and One Story, and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her criticism and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, O, The Oprah Magazine, BOMB, and

Laura has taught creative writing in the graduate programs at The Michener Center, Columbia University, and Warren Wilson College. She is currently a Senior Lecturer on Fiction at Harvard University. Laura lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, the writer Paul Yoon, and their dog, Oscar.

Stacy Mattingly is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Unlikely Angel, an Atlanta hostage story now a feature film, Captive. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Oxford American, Off Assignment, EuropeNow, and elsewhere. An Atlanta native, Stacy teaches at Boston University and is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music. She is a 2024-25 Fulbright U.S. Scholar to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she has collaborated with writers for more than a decade. Her recently completed first novel is set in the present-day Balkans.


This class will take place in-person at our Center for Creative Writing in Boston's Seaport neighborhood.

Covid-19 Update:

GrubStreet's space will be mask-optional when Boston's Covid-19 Community Level is low or medium. When the Covid-19 Community Level is high, our space will require masks. Please check GrubStreet's Covid-19 page for the latest info on masking and Community Levels before visiting in person.

Space Accessibility:

Our space is ADA accessible with automatic door openers, ADA-compliant restrooms, desk and table spacing, braille signage, and elevator. Our classrooms can be equipped with ALS for hard of hearing individuals. We cannot guarantee a scent-free environment. For more accessibility requests, please contact our Operations team at [email protected] or (617) 695-0075.