Life During Wartime: David Abrams, Helen Benedict, Cara Hoffman, Matt Gallagher & Dalia Sofer

Monday November 13, 2017
07:00 pm

Tags: Event





In our second event exploring literature and conflict to coincide with Veteran’s Day, five authors whose work examines the personal tolls of war from a number of perspectives discussed depicting the “enemy” with sympathy; capturing the experiences of refugees; how current affairs affect fiction, and how one writes critically about war. With David Abrams (Brave Deeds), Helen Benedict (Sand Queen; Wolf Season), Cara Hoffman (Be Safe I Love You), Matt Gallagher (Youngblood), and Dalia Sofer (The Septembers of Shiraz).



David Abrams is the author of the novels Brave Deeds and Fobbit, which was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and a Best Book of 2012 by Paste Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Barnes and Noble. It was also featured as part of B&N's Discover Great New Writers program. One of his short stories, "Roll Call," was included in the anthology Fire and Forget (Da Capo Press, 2013). His short stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared in Esquire, Narrative, Electric Literature, Consequence, Salamander, The Literarian, Connecticut Review, The Greensboro Review, Five Chapters, The Missouri Review, and many other places. His work has also appeared in the New York Times and Salon. He regularly blogs about the literary life at The Quivering Pen. Abrams retired in 2008 after a 20-year career in the active-duty Army as a journalist. He was named the Department of Defense's Military Journalist of the Year in 1994 and received several other military commendations throughout his career. His tours of duty took him to Thailand, Japan, Africa, Alaska, Texas, Georgia and The Pentagon. In 2005, he joined the 3rd Infantry Division and deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The journal he kept during that year formed the blueprint for the novel which would later Fobbit. Abrams was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Jackson, Wyoming. He earned a BA in English from the University of Oregon and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.


Helen Benedict, a professor at Columbia University, is the author of seven novels, including Wolf Season, just out from Bellevue Literary Press, and Sand Queen, a Publishers Weekly “Best Contemporary War Novel.” A recipient of both the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, Benedict is also the author of five works of nonfiction and the play The Lonely Soldier Monologues: Women at War in Iraq. Her writing inspired a class action suit against the Pentagon on behalf of those sexually assaulted in the military and the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Invisible War. She lives in New York.


Cara Hoffman is the author of the critically acclaimed novels; Running, So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love Youwhich was named one of the Five Best Modern War Novels by the Telegraph UK, nominated for a Folio Prize, and adapted for film by renowned Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour. She has written for the New York Times, Paris Review, Rolling Stone, Electric Literature, Marie Claire, Salon, LitHub and National Public Radio, and has received numerous awards and accolades for her work including a New York Times Editor's Choice, and a Macdowell Fellowship. She has been a visiting writer at  Columbia, St. John’s, Goddard College and University of Oxford, and currently teaches in the Stonecoast low residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She lives in Manhattan where she is at work on her fourth novel.

Matt Gallagher is the author of the novel Youngblood, published by Atria/​Simon & Schuster and a finalist for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia and has written for the New York Times, the Atlantic, Wired and the Paris Review, among others. A former U.S. Army captain, he's also the author of the Iraq memoir Kaboom and coeditor of, and contributor to, the short fiction collection Fire & Forget.

Dalia Sofer is the author of the novel The Septembers of Shiraz (Ecco Press), which was selected as a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year," was a finalist for the Jewish Book Award, and has been translated and published in 16 countries. Dalia is the recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Sirenland Fellowship, and the Sami Rohr Choice Award, and has contributed essays and reviews to various publications, including The New York Times Book Review, the LA Review of Books, and The Believer. Born in Tehran, Iran, Dalia moved at the age of eleven to New York, where she attended the Lycée Français de New York, and later, New York University. She received an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and has twice been a resident at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY, and at the Santa Maddalena Foundation in Italy. She lives in New York City, where she is completing a novel tentatively titled The Beginning of my Downfall.