Race and belonging are the central themes of Yaa Gyasi's work. Her 2016 debut novel, Homegoing, about slavery, won a National Book critic's circle award, and the National Book Foundation's 5 under 35 honor.
Gyasi's new novel, Transcendent Kingdom, draws on Gyasi's life as the daughter of immigrants from Ghana.
James McBride is best known for his memoir, The Color of Water, about being the son of an African American father and a white mother. His new novel, Deacon King Kong, takes place in 1969, in a Brooklyn housing project, similar to the one he grew up in., and involves the wide consequences of a shooting.
Judd Apatow was a teenager when he first "met" comic Garry Shandling in a phone interview for his high school radio show. Years later, their paths intersected again when Shandling, who was hosting the Grammy Awards, hired Apatow to write jokes for him.
As a black gay kid growing up in Texas in the 1990s, poet Saeed Jones remembers getting negative messages about his identity from every aspect of his life. It was around the time of Matthew Shepard's murder in Wyoming, and Jones felt alone and unsafe.