NEA Big Read
The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town

The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town

by Thornton Wilder

It seems to me that my books are about: what is the worst thing that the world can do to you, and what are the last resources one has to oppose it.

Thornton Wilder in the role of George Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth (Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Author Russell Banks is best known for his dark, realistic short stories and novels often set in his native New England. Two of his many novels, Affliction (1989) and The Sweet Hereafter (1991), were adapted into major motion pictures. Acclaimed in the U.S. and abroad, his work has been translated into 20 languages.

Maureen Fiedler, a Sister of Loretto, is the host of Interfaith Voices a radio magazine show heard on public radio stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. For 26 years, she served as co-director of the Quixote Center, a national faith-based justice center.

At 14, Q'orianka Kilcher starred as Pocahontas with Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, and Christopher Plummer in The New World (2005). A musician as well as an actress, she is active in social causes and has worked with the United Nations and Amnesty International.

J. D. McClatchy's books of poetry include: The Rest of the Way (1990), Hazmat (2002), and Mercury Dressing (2009). He is also an essayist, librettist, and editor of many collections, including Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater (2007). He lectures in English at Yale University, where he is editor of the Yale Review. In 2009, McClatchy was elected to a three-year term as president of The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Penelope Niven (1939-2014) was the author of several books including Carl Sandburg: A Biography (1991) and Steichen: A Biography (1997). She collaborated with James Earl Jones on his autobiography, Voices and Silences (1993). She retired after twelve years as Writer-in-Residence at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her biography Thornton Wilder: A Life was published in 2012.

Josephine Reed is Media Producer at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She has been program director of the book and contemporary theater channel at XM Satellite Radio and a long-time producer and host of a literary public radio show heard in the Washington, DC, area.

Marian Seldes (1928-2014) made her Broadway debut in 1947 in Medea with Judith Anderson, and was an accomplished actress on film, radio, television, and the stage. Seldes won a Tony in 1967 for her performance in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996.

Known to most Americans as D.A. Jack McCoy on Law & Order, Sam Waterston has enjoyed a diverse acting career. His performance as Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby (1974) received Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actor and most promising newcomer. An eight-time nominee, he won an Emmy Award for hosting Lost Civilizations (1995) and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in The Killing Fields (1984). He is an Honorary Director of the Thornton Wilder Society.

Author and independent scholar Tappan Wilder is the nephew of Thornton Wilder. In 1995 he took over his uncle's literary and dramatic properties and has overseen a revival of interest in Thornton Wilder's work.

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