I will be interviewing Bestselling author Patrick Radden Keef at the Writers for Readers benefit in Kansas City on October 20, 2021. The Writers for Readers benefit dinner is a partnership between the Kansas City Public Library and the MFA program in Creative Writing at UMKC and is annually one of Kansas City's premier literary events. Keefe, whose bestselling Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty pulls back the curtain on the ultra-rich family behind America's deadly opioid epidemic. Released earlier this year, it chronicles the rise and fall of the Sacklers, once known for their lavish donations to the arts and the sciences but now reviled--with their company Purdue Pharma--as the creators and all-too-successful marketers of the highly addictive narcotic OxyContin. Keefe is a decorated staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three other books, including Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. It earned the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was selected as one of the 10 best books of 2019 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal. Keefe's work also has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing (in 2014) and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing (in 2019).

The evening also is highlighted by the introduction of the first winner of Maya Angelou Book Award winner and remarks by Angelou's son, Guy Bailey Johnson. The new literary award--established by the Kansas City Public Library and the University of Missouri, UMKC, and Missouri State, Truman State, Southeast Missouri State, and Northwest Missouri State universities--recognizes authors and notable new releases of American fiction and poetry focusing on social justice and inclusion. It comes with a $10,000 stipend. The recipient will conduct a reading tour of Missouri colleges, universities, and libraries. If local health ordinances preclude an in-person gathering, the program will be held online. Writers for Readers 2021 is co-presented by UMKC's MFA Program in Creative Writing and the Friends of the Kansas City Public Library and is co-chaired by Karen and Jack Holland.

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