The Bedri Distinguished Writer Series

Statement of Purpose

The Bedri Distinguished Writers Series is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Jonathan Bedri.

The Bedri Distinguished Writer Series was created to provide funds for the Department of English to bring contemporary writers working in narrative fiction or creative nonfiction to the Berkeley campus annually for a short stay.  Nominees for the program are chosen from the finalists or winners of the Nobel, Pulitzer, National Book Critics Circle, Man Booker, or their equivalents. Over a two day visit, invited authors will participate in small setting discussions to be offered in the English Department, and then deliver a keynote talk at a public venue. 

The series has two primary goals: a) to stir excitement, reflection and conversation in the Department of English; b) to give all Berkeley students, alumni and community members within the University’s milieu the opportunity to attend the keynote address. 

It is hoped the endowment will not only enrich the English Department’s presence on campus, but also contribute to the culture of intellectual curiosity, discovery and growth that has long stamped Berkeley as one of the world’s greatest educational institutions. 

JB (BA English Lit, UC Berkeley 1970; MD, U of Maryland, 1974) 

Photo of Cristina Rivera Garza with UC Berkeley Students

2024: Cristina Rivera Garza

April 11, 5 PM
Wheeler 315

Cristina Rivera Garza is an author, translator and critic. Recent publications include Liliana’s Invincible Summer (Hogarth, 2023), which was long listed for the National Book Award in nonfiction and recently was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for memoir. The Taiga Syndrome, trans. by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana, (Dorothy Project, 2018) was awarded the 2018 Shirley Jackson Award. Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country, trans. by Sarah Booker (The Feminist Press, 2020) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle for Criticism.  In 2020, she was a MacArthur Fellow and is currently Artist-In-Residence at DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) in Berlin. She is M.D. Anderson Distinguished Professor and founder of the PhD Program in Creative Writing in Spanish at the University of Houston, Department of Hispanic Studies.

2023: Valeria Luiselli

"Migration Stories"

April 20, 5 PM
315 Wheeler Hall

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of Sidewalks, Faces in the Crowd, The Story of My Teeth, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions and Lost Children Archive. She is the recipient of a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship and the winner of DUBLIN Literary Award, two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, The Carnegie Medal, an American Book Award, and has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the Booker Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney's, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. She teaches at Bard College and is a visiting professor at Harvard University.

2022: Edwidge Danticat

April 28, 8 PM
315 Wheeler Hall
Introduction by Nadia Ellis

Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including Claire of the Sea Light, a New York Times notable book; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Miami.

2021: Jennifer Egan

November 4, 5 PM
315 Wheeler Hall

Jennifer Egan is the author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn. Her newest novel, Manhattan Beach, was published in October 2017 and was a New York Times bestseller.

2019: Viet Thanh Nguyen

"Caliban's Curse"

April 4, 5 PM 
Wheeler Hall 315

Viet Thanh Nguyen, University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at USC; winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; author of The Sympathizer (2015), Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016), and The Refugees (2017).