Author Talks

We welcome novelists, scientists, and leading writers across disciplines to discuss new books shaping the cultural conversation at large.

Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam in Conversation
Jack Halberstam joins Judith Butler at Dia Chelsea to discuss their new book, what it’s like to be burned in effigy, and so much more.
Hilton Als: My Pinup
The writer talks to Broadcast's very own Joshua Jelly-Schapiro about Prince’s outsize oeuvre and legacy, criticism as art, and how Als' own evolving practice, as a writer and curator alike, has shaped his singular creative voice.
Merve Emre, Sigrid Nunez, and Doreen St. FĂ©lix on Susan Sontag Now
To celebrate the release of "On Women" from Picador, Pioneer Works hosted a conversation between three writers—Merve Emre, Sigrid Nunez, and Doreen St. Félix—to examine Sontag’s complex relationship towards womanhood. The three probe the writer’s refractive legacies, revealing her keen resonance in our new era of women watching women.
Primatologist Frans de Waal in Conversation with Isabella Rossellini
Primatologist Frans de Waal is joined by cinema icon Isabella Rossellini to discuss his most recent book, "Different." Together, they explore the matriarchal hierarchies of the ape kingdom, articulating all that we may learn about sex, gender, and nature from our simian cousins.
Physicist Alan Lightman on Spirituality in the Age of Science
In conversation with Tim McHenry, Alan Lightman illuminates our strange place between the world of particles and forces and the world of complex human experience.
Sean Carroll on the Biggest Ideas in the Universe
On the occasion of the publication of his evocative new book, "The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion," Sean Carroll takes us on a deep dive into the physics that pulls back the veil of mystery from the most complex ideas in the field.
Elif Batuman on Life as Literature
Elif Batuman joins Joshua Jelly-Schapiro to discuss Batuman’s new book Either/Or, a novel that has given us new ways to think—and laugh—about how books shape our lives.
Stay True: A Conversation with Hua Hsu and Lucy Sante
In the eyes of eighteen-year old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken—with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity—is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the United States for generations, is mainstream; for Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who makes ’zines and haunts Bay Area record shops, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to. The only thing Hua and Ken have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn’t seem to have a place for either of them. On September 28, 2022, Pioneer Works hosted the launch of New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu's acclaimed memoir of friendship, music, art, and grief, Stay True. The event featured a special conversation between Hsu and one of his literary heroes, Lucy Sante.
Pussypedia Author Zoe Mendelson in Conversation with Molly Webster
Journalist and author Zoe Mendelson joins in conversation with Radiolab’s Molly Webster to discuss Mendelson’s new book Pussypedia. Written by the creators of the popular website and illustrated by Maria Conejo, this book on the pussy is based on “extensive reviews of peer-reviewed science that address old myths, confusing inconsistencies, and the influence of gender narratives on scientific research—always in simple, joyful language.” In the conversation, Mendelson and Webster discuss the book’s genesis (an inquiry into squirting), the importance of democratizing science, and how to create an inclusive feminist discourse spanning US-Mexico borders.
Dr. Carl Hart on Drug Use for Grown-Ups
Neuroscientist, psychologist, and author, Dr. Carl Hart urges us to change the way we think about drug use. In his new book Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, published January 2021, he argues that the demonization (and profiteering) of drug use causes more harm than the drugs themselves—that as responsible American adults, we have an inalienable right to pursue happiness, and if that pursuit includes responsible drug use, we should be able to do that. He joins Janna Levin to discuss his recent book. Dr. Hart is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Colombia University. He is also Ziff Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. In 2014, Dr. Hart was awarded the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award for his book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery. Janna Levin is Chair and Director of Science at Pioneer Works and Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Barnard College of Columbia University.
Richard Dawkins on Outgrowing God
Richard Dawkins was fifteen when he stopped believing in God. Deeply impressed by the beauty and complexity of living things, he felt certain that they must have had a designer. Learning about the theory of evolution changed his mind. In his 2019 book, Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide to Atheism, Dawkins provides an accessible primer to atheism for readers looking to rethink some of the big questions that shaped his own path towards seeing the magnificence of a world without God. In twelve fiercely funny, mind-expanding chapters, Dawkins explains how the natural world arose without a designer—the improbability and beauty of the “bottom-up programming” that engineers an embryo or a flock of starlings—and challenges head-on some of the most basic assumptions made by the world’s religions: Do you believe in God? Which one? Is the Bible a “Good Book”? Is adhering to a religion necessary, or even likely, to make people good to one another? Dissecting everything from Abraham’s abuse of Isaac to the construction of a snowflake, Outgrowing God is a concise, provocative guide to thinking for yourself.
Until the End of Time: Brian Greene in Conversation with Janna Levin
Brian Greene, the world-renowned physicist and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe, launches his captivating new book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe at Pioneer Works. Join Janna Levin, our Director of Sciences, in conversation with Brian Greene to grasp and gain a refined appreciation for our fleeting, but utterly exquisite, moment in the cosmos.
Gloria Steinem and Ronan Farrow in Conversation
Gloria Steinem and Ronan Farrow in conversation activist to activist, author to author, on feminism and journalism as they launch their latest books at Pioneer Works. As Gloria says, “The Truth Will Set You Free but First It Will Piss You Off.” Read the article:
Confronting Cancer with Azra Raza and Siddhartha Mukherjee
In her profound and breathtaking new book, The First Cell: And the Human Cost of Pursuing Cancer to the Last, Azra Raza offers a searing account of how both medicine and our society (mis)treat cancer, how we can do better, and why we must. Told through the moving, true stories of patients she has treated in the past thirty-five years, this book explores cancer from every angle: medical, scientific, cultural, and personal. Tune in for a conversation between two authors, colleagues, and best friends, Prof. Azra Raza and Prof. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who have devoted their lives to improving medical approaches to suffering and death and to making the unbearable easier to bear.