Congratulations to Masha Gessen for her National Book Award!


Since 1950, the National Book Awards have celebrated the best of American literature. In 2016, speaker Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award in Fiction for his sweeping tour de force novel, The Underground Railroad. This year, Masha Gessen won the Award in Non-Fiction for The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.

The Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau is honored to represent a number of past winners, as well as finalists of the National Book Award, the nation’s preeminent literary prize, that works “to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.” Let us introduce you!

2017 Winner

The Future Is History

2017: The Future Is History - Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen, a Russian and American journalist, is the intrepid chronicler of Russian social and political issues, from Pussy Riot to Putin. Her latest book, The Future is History, chronicles how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.

Fiction Winners

Colson Whitehead has established himself as one of the most versatile and innovative writers in contemporary literature. The author of eight books, he is a MacArthur fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist.


2014: Redeployment - Phil Klay

United States Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay wowed critics and readers alike with his short story collection Redeployment, which was named “one of the best debuts of the year” (The Oregonian.)

Let the Great World Spin

2009: Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann

Hailed as an incomparable storyteller, Colum McCann is an award-winning author whose topics have ranged from the troubles in Northern Ireland, to the effects of 9/11, to the examination of the Roma in Europe. 


1999: Waiting - Ha Jin

Ha Jin is an award-winning novelist and a professor at Boston University. Born in China and a veteran of the People’s Liberation Army, Jin’s fascinating upbringing makes him a captivating speaker on China’s past and present.

Non-Fiction Winners

Stamped From the Beginning

Stamped From the Beginning - Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists.

Between the World and Me

2015: Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

2012: Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo

Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo is among the most influential journalists writing about disadvantaged populations. Her New York Times bestseller Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on years of reporting in Mumbai, exposes one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds with uncompromising clarity and empathy.

The First Tycoon

2009: The First Tycoon - T.J. Stiles

T. J. Stiles is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The First Tycoon, a biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Custer’s Trials, a biography of George Armstrong Custer. He has served as a historical adviser and on-screen expert for American Experience programs on PBS.

American Sphinx

1997: American Sphinx - Joseph J. Ellis

A leading scholar of American history, Joseph J. Ellis is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his biographies of our nation’s earliest presidents. Ellis is a distinguished professor and seasoned speaker who regales audiences with stories of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other U.S. presidents.

Poetry Winners

Voyage of the Sable Venus

2015: Voyage of the Sable Venus - Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis is an electrifying new voice in contemporary poetry. Both tender and arresting in her poems, Lewis is also an astute cultural critic, alert to the complexities of race and the black female voice.

Young People’s Literature Winners

Brown Girl Dreaming

2014: Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She gives stirring lectures that delve into the inspiration behind her books and explore important issues of race, gender, and bullying.

Biography Winners

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

1980: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt - Edmund Morris

Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer Edmund Morris’s Theodore Roosevelt trilogy is considered the definitive work on that president’s life, and perhaps no writer is better equipped to discuss the legacy of Ronald Reagan than Morris. He is a seasoned lecturer in demand by audiences as both a historical expert and as an interpreter of public lives.

Past Finalists

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (Nonfiction, 2016)

Jacqueline Woodson (Fiction, 2016)

Lauren Groff (Fiction, 2015)

Emily St. John Mandel (Fiction, 2014)

Junot Díaz (Fiction, 2012)

Téa Obreht (Fiction, 2011)

Lauren Redniss (Nonfiction, 2011)

Peter Carey (Fiction, 2010)

E. Lockhart (Young People’s Literature, 2008)

Dan Chaon (Fiction, 2001)

Jennifer Egan (Fiction, 2001)

Please contact us about booking any of the above speakers for your upcoming event. And if you want to stay updated on our speakers, remember to sign up for our e-newsletter.