WNBA at the Strand: An Interview with Award-Winning Biographer Deirdre Bair

It was truly my pleasure to introduce all who attended the Strand Underground event, April 7, to Dr. Deirdre Bair, the award-winning, critically-acclaimed biographer of some of the twentieth century’s most important voices. Although I have always known Dr. Bair was an important biographer, the research I did before I interviewed her at the Strand Book Store impressed upon me just how important her work is and how lasting and impactful it will continue to be.  Her dedication to the craft of biography and to honestly and truthfully present the lives of her important cultural and literary subjects is a gift for the layperson and scholar alike.

Dr. Bair won the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography. While still a graduate student she decided that there needed to be a comprehensive study made of the Irish avant-garde writer, poet, and dramatist, Samuel Beckett, so she wrote him a letter to ask if he would agree to meet with her. It was a very brave step for an unpublished biographer, especially given Beckett’s reputation for guarding his privacy. But Beckett responded by saying that he would “neither help nor hinder” her, and offered to introduce her to his friends; his enemies, he assured her, “you will find soon enough.” It was the beginning of a long process that produced a biography that in Beckett’s own words “got it right.”

Dr. Bair also regaled us with an account of the time she spent with the subject of her second biography, Simone De Beauvoir, the influential French existentialist philosopher, feminist and writer. The stories of her weekly meetings and conversations with De Beauvoir were fascinating to the audience, and shed some very interesting light on the personality and world of the woman who wrote the infamous, The Second Sex.

Anais Nin, whom Dr. Bair refers to as a “major-minor” writer, came next.  Perhaps best remembered for her diaries and erotic literature, Nin left behind box upon box of voluminous diaries which had been rewritten and edited many times. Getting a glimpse into the work and writing-process of the complicated double-life that Nin lived was spellbinding.

Dr. Bair’s next subject was Carl Jung, one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and the founder of Analytical Psychology. The Jung biography won the Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. How writing this book came to be was also a fascinating story and learning that Dr. Bair had to learn German before writing it is a true testament to her dedication to the art and craft of writing biography!

Dr. Bair’s latest biography (which will be published this fall by Random House) is about Saul Steinberg, the Romanian-born American cartoonist and illustrator best known for his work in The New Yorker. For the New York audience, this subject was particularly interesting and we are all looking forward to its publication.

It was a wonderful, thought-provoking evening and the iconic Strand Underground, with its superb staff of book-lovers, was the perfect venue for this event.

Interview with a Biographer: Pace Professor at Strand Bookstore


STRAND UNDERGROUND EVENT with Deirdre Bair and Pace M.S. in Publishing’s own Prof. Jane Kinney-Denning!

When: April 7th, 6:30PM – 7:30PM

Where: The Strand Bookstore

The Women’s National Book Association-NYC Chapter returns to the Strand with an illuminating conversation on the art and craft of biography.

WNBA-NYC Member, Professor Jane Kinney-Denning, will interview the award-winning author Deirdre Bair at this special event in the Strand Underground.

Deirdre Bair has written biographies on Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, Carl Jung and Anais Nin. She is currently at work on a biography of New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg.

FREE and Open to the Public!
RSVP to programs@wnba-nyc.org

WNBA Hosts Digital Book Panel

The Women’s National Book Association New York City Presents:

    Digital Books, E-books, Enhanced E-books and Apps – A Panel Discussion

• Peter Costanzo, Director of Digital Content at F+W Media, Inc., www.fwmedia.com

• Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, Digital Publishing Director, Workman Publishing, www.workman.com

• Ami Greko, Senior Vendor Relations Manager, US, Kobo, www.kobo.com

• Evan Ratliff, Editor, The Atavist, www.atavist.net
Writer: Wired, The New Yorker, National Geographic
Author of Lifted, a Kindle Single book, on the top five nonfiction best seller list on Amazon

Bring questions or send your questions in advance to publicity@bookbuzz.com

Organized and moderated by Susannah Greenberg, Susannah Greenberg Public Relations and Publicity Chair of WNBA-NYC, http://bookbuzz.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011. 5:30-7:30 PM

Association of American Publishers, 71 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10003

$10 to non-members. You may join at the door or online.
$5 to students with valid ID.
Free to WNBA and AAP members.

RSVP TO: programs@wnba-nyc.org
(Use subject line “digital books”)

MEDIA CONTACT: Susannah Greenberg, Phone: 212-208-4629;
E-mail: publicity@bookbuzz.com

WNBA Winter/Spring Schedule of Events

WNBA LogoWNBA Award Ceremony & Reception

On Saturday, March 12th, WNBA will honor Masha Hamilton, author, activist, and founder of The Afghan Women’s Writing Project. To find out more about Masha’s work, visit her website by clicking here.

We hope you’ll join to honor this extraordinary bookwoman. Invites to follow soon!

The Third Annual Online Book Marketing Panel

On Tuesday, March 29th, the ever popular online book marketing event returns for the third straight year! This time around, industry experts on the panel will focus on the brave new world of digital books and reading apps with a nod toward the web’s most popular social media sites–Twitter, Facebook, and Scribd.

RSVP: programs@wnba-nyc.org and use Book Marketing Panel in the subject line.

The World of Biography with Deirdre Bair

Please join us on Thursday, April 7th for an evening’s conversation on the world of biography with noted author (and Charlie Rose guest), Deirdre Bair. She is the author of four biographies: Samuel Beckett (winner of the National Book Award); Simone de Beauvoir (NY Times “Best Books of the Year”; finalist: Los Angeles Times Book Prize); Anais Nin (NY Times “Notable Books of the Year,” BBC Arts 4 documentary); and Jung: A Biography (NY Times “Notable Books of the Year,” Los Angeles Times

Book Prize finalist, and winner of the NAAP Gradiva Award for Best Biography of the Year).

RSVP: programs@wnba-nyc.org and use Deidre Bair in subject line.

Great Resume-Building Opportunity at the WNBA

Publication or Company:WNBA Logo
The Women’s National Book Association–New York Chapter

Company Profile:
The Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. WNBA is national in its scope and is comprised of women and men who work with and value books. WNBA promotes reading and supports the role of women in the community of the book beginning in 1917.

Our members—women and men who work with and value words—represent all aspects of the book industry. We are authors and writers, editors and publishers, librarians and booksellers, agents and publicists, designers and illustrators, and book production and management professionals.

Job Title: Student Representative for WNBA-New York Chapter

Industry: Non-Profit

Time Frame: December 2010 until May 2011

Description of Work:
The Student Representative will be working directly with chapter president as well as providing assistance to board members and committee chairs on planning, organization, and provide extra hands-on help at chapter events.
The successful candidate will enjoy working with people has excellent communication and organization skills well as prior customer service background would be helpful.
This board-approved position is almost entirely online in nature, so experience in working independently is critical.  The Student Representative will be also required to attend chapter board meetings to contribute ideas and provide constructive feedback with regard to our initiative toward growing NYC chapter membership.

Student Representative will be asked to advise the board on matters of interest to young publishing professionals who are just beginning their publishing careers.

Intern Qualifications:
As planning chapter events/panels is very detailed work in terms of timing and proper execution, the Student Representative must be highly detail-oriented.  Along a very strong grasp of MS Word and Excel, candidate’s skill-set will include e-mail blasts and correspondence, and some mailing may also be required.

Company Web Address:
www.wnba-nyc.org (NYC Chapter)
www.wnba-books.org (National Organization)

How to Apply:
Email Resume and cover letter to Prof. Jane Denning at jdenning@pace.edu no later than Thursday, November 25th.

Around Town November Events List, Courtesy of the WNBA

  • Nancy Pearl, author of the popular “Book Lust” series will appear at NYPL’s Midtown Branch on Monday, November 15th @ 6:30pm.  Visit Nancy’s website for more information.
  • Jonathan Franzen and Lorrie Moore will appear at The 92nd Street Y on Monday, November 15th @ 8:00pm.  Click here for more information.
  • Zadie Smith will appear at the New York Public Library’s Live@NYPL on Monday, November 22nd @ 7:00pm.  Click here for more information.
  • Salman Rushdie will appear at The 92nd Street Y on Monday, November 22nd @ 8:00pm.  Click here for more information.
  • And, lastly, I hope you’ll Eat, Drink & Be Literary at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the new year.  See the line-up for 2011 @ www.bam.org.