Back WATCH: Literary Luminaries Reflect on the Writers Whose Work Shaped Their Own
Back row (from left): LOA President and Publisher Max Rudin, National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Shelly Lowe, LOA trustees Tony Kushner and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., LOA Board Chair Elizabeth W. Smith, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Suzanne Vega; seated: Maxine Hong Kingston (photo by Karsten Staiger)

On May 1, 2023, Library of America celebrated four decades as the champion of our nation’s greatest literary voices with a gala reception at the elegant Metropolitan Club in New York City. (Click here to jump to photo gallery.)

The evening’s program made an eloquent case for the crucial importance of Library of America’s mission, with six extraordinary speakers paying tribute to earlier American writers whose work shaped their own: scholar, TV host, and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on Zora Neale Hurston; author and New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik on S. J. Perelman and Richard Wilbur; scholar, writer, and Columbia University professor Farah Jasmine Griffin on Ann Petry; pioneering memoirist and fiction writer Maxine Hong Kingston on Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson; Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Tony Kushner on Eugene O’Neill; and Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega on Carson McCullers.

National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Shelly Lowe, opening her remarks in the Navajo language, offered a moving homage to the long and fruitful collaboration between the NEH and LOA.

We could not have reached this milestone without the many longtime friends and supporters in the Library of America community, and we thank you for your partnership.

You can help LOA celebrate another forty years by making a tax-deductible gift today. Click here to donate.

WATCH: Literary Luminaries Discuss the Authors Whose Work Shaped Their Own

Full program

NEH Chair Shelly Lowe on Library of America and the power of stories

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on W.E.B. Du Bois and Zora Neale Hurston [Transcript]

Adam Gopnik on Edmund Wilson, S. J. Perelman, and Richard Wilbur [Transcript]

Farah Jasmine Griffin on Ann Petry [Transcript]

Suzanne Vega on Carson McCullers [Transcript]

Maxine Hong Kingston on Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson [Transcript]

Tony Kushner on Eugene O’Neill

Photo Gallery
All photos by Karsten Staiger

Left: Chris Stromee, Liz Boehmler, and Alexis Boehmler; right: Paul Devlin and LOA trustee Henry Louis Gates, Jr., co-editors of LOA’s Albert Murray edition
Farah Jasmine Griffin (center), editor of Ann Petry: The Street, The Narrows, with Mark and Lise Krosse, who endowed the Ann Petry volume as Guardians to keep it permanently in print.
LOA trustee Joanne Freeman
Roland Hirsch, Guardian of Frederick Douglass: Autobiographies, meets LOA trustee Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who edited the Douglass volume.
Ashley and Jason Bernhard
Rachel Goldstein, Chuck Errig, and Scott Gould from Penguin Random House Publisher Services
LOA trustee Amy Davidson Sorkin, Gelareh Kiazand, David Sorkin, and Tanaz Eshaghian
Penguin Random House’s Jeff Abraham with LOA Associate Publisher Brian McCarthy
LOA Board Chair Elizabeth W. Smith delivers a Champagne toast.
Left: Allison Saxe; right: Sebastian and Barbara Scripps
David Sorkin, LOA trustee Joanne Freeman, LOA Board Chair Elizabeth W. Smith, Peter DiGiglio, and LOA trustees Amor Towles and Amy Davidson Sorkin
Beatrice Mitchell, Dawn Markowitz, and Robyn Kronstadt
LOA President and Publisher Max Rudin, Paula Kerger, and LOA trustee Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Helen Houghton, Maxine Hong Kingston, Elana Lim, and Honor Moore
Pentagram’s Tamara McKenna and LOA trustee Michael Bierut
Ken Kronstadt and LOA trustee Amy Davidson Sorkin
LOA trustee Kathleen Kennedy and Brian Siberell
Beatrice Mitchell and Paul Sperry
Farah Jasmine Griffin with husband Obery Hendricks
LOA President and Publisher Max Rudin
LOA trustee Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
LOA trustee Adam Gopnik
National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Shelly Lowe
Farah Jasmine Griffin
Suzanne Vega
Maxine Hong Kingston
LOA trustee Tony Kushner
LOA President and Publisher Max Rudin

Thanks to our generous corporate sponsors:

CBIZ Newmark
Omabuild PRH
Pentagram Sheridan


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