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Category Archives: narrative speaker series

The Nieman Narrative Speaker Series brings notable nonfiction storytellers to the foundation’s Narrative Writing class. Transcripts of those class visits appear here.

Robert Caro, Part 2: On work habits, enthusiasm and minimizing distraction

On Thursday, we ran Part 1 of Robert Caro’s conversation with the Washington Post’s Anne Hull, on reporting, sacrifice, sources and finding book projects. Today, in the second and final part, Caro talks about his reporting and writing process, how to maintain energy and interest in a subject, and how he minimizes distractions. Caro and Hull [...]

Robert Caro, Part 1: On finding book projects, reporting, sacrifice and sources

Hearing Robert Caro talk about his work is like getting a master class in longform journalism. A Nieman Fellow, Class of 1966, Caro is the bestselling biographer of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, and has won every major literary prize — some of them, such as the Pulitzer, twice. He appeared in conversation with the Washington [...]

Writing a tornado narrative, with Esquire’s Luke Dittrich

The news out of Moore, Okla., couldn’t help remind us of the historic tornado in Joplin, Mo., and of one narrative in particular: Luke Dittrich’s National Magazine Award-winning Esquire piece on how a group of strangers survived by crowding into a convenience store cooler. The scenario, which happened two years ago yesterday, was echoed this [...]

Junot Díaz on imagination, language, success, the role of the teacher, the health of American literature and Star Wars as a narrative teaching tool

To hear the novelist Junot Díaz talk about writing is to have your mind augured open to new ways of processing the human experience and to feel swept up in the poetics of the real. A Dominican Republic native who moved to New Jersey at age 6, Díaz teaches at MIT and writes primarily about the lives of [...]

Buzz Bissinger on heart, luck, honesty, critics and the importance of switching things up

When Buzz Bissinger visited the Nieman Foundation last week, in some ways he was coming home. Twenty-six years ago, he finished his Nieman year inspired to do new and different work. He’d made his career in newspapers, most recently at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he, Rick Tulsky and Dan Biddle, also former Niemans, had just written [...]

Gay Talese has a Coke*: reflections of a narrative legend, in conversation with Esquire’s Chris Jones

Continuing the Nieman Foundation narrative writing speaker series set up by Paige Williams, journalism legend Gay Talese appeared on campus two weeks ago in conversation with Esquire’s Chris Jones. The Harvard Writers at Work lecture series co-sponsored the standing-room-only event, where Talese and Jones were introduced by current Nieman fellow Adam Tanner of Reuters. What follows [...]

Chris Jones on reporting for detail, the case against outlining and the power of donuts

Esquire writer at large Chris Jones came to the Nieman Foundation two weeks ago as part of the Narrative Writing speakers series I started at the foundation last year, and spent a couple of hours talking about craft. Jones began his career as a sportswriter for the National Post in Toronto, where he covered boxing, which became [...]

Michael Paterniti on storytelling (part 2): William Burroughs’ final months, Mitterrand’s last meal, and magical cheese

Today we bring you Part 2 of a discussion on narrative nonfiction with long-form storyteller Michael Paterniti. (If you just tuned in to the conversation, you might want to check out Part 1.) A six-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, Paterniti won the prize for feature writing for “Driving Mr. Albert,” which became a book [...]