Critical Mass

Video: National Book Critics Circle at the Fall for the Book Festival, Sept. 22

By Mark Athitakis

How much is a memoirist allowed to “invent” in an autobiography? Do the people you mention in a memoir get a vote in how they're portrayed in the book? And why are we so fascinated by memoirs, anyway? On September, 22, as part of the Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the National Book Critics Circle held a panel discussion to address these questions and more.

NBCC board member Marcela Valdes moderated the discussion. Joining her were:

Ariel Sabar, author of My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, which won the NBCC's award for autobiography in 2009.

Peter Manseau, a lecturer in journalism at Georgetown University and author of Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son.

E. Ethelbert Miller, a D.C. poet, director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, and the author of two memoirs, Fathering Words and The 5th Inning.