Just Buffalo's BABEL Readings are held at Kleinhans (3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY 14201) beginning at 8 pm (Patron VIP Reception begins at 7 pm). After each lecture, audience members enjoy an interview-style Q&A moderated by Just Buffalo's Artistic Director Barbara Cole, and may have their books signed by the author.

Friday, October 23, 2015
8:00 PM


Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the first book ever to be nominated in two categories; and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely as well as the plays, Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, commissioned by the Foundry Theatre; and Existing Conditions, co-authored with Casey Llewellyn. A chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Rankine has edited numerous anthologies including American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century: Where Lyric Meets Language and American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics. Her plays include Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue and she has also produced a number of videos in collaboration with John Lucas, including “Situation One.” A recipient of awards and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation, she is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College.

RankineCitizen-318x500About the Book:
In Citizen, Claudia Rankine recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

Click here to learn more:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
8:00 PM


Dinaw Mengestu is the award-winning author of How to Read the Air and All Our Names. His debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, garnered critical acclaim for its haunting depiction of the immigrant experience in America, earning him comparisons to Fitzgerald and BABEL alum V.S. Naipaul. The recipient of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” Award, The New Yorker “20 under 40” award, The Guardian First Book Award and a MacArthur “genius” grant, Mengestu was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 2. A graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University’s MFA program in Fiction, Mengestu is also a talented journalist whose articles have appeared in Harper’s, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker.

RankineCitizen-318x500About the Book: Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.

Discussion Questions:

Click here to learn more: http://www.neabigread.org/books/beautifulthings/readers-guide/

Thursday, March 10, 2016
8:00 PM


Louise Erdrich grew up in North Dakota and is of German-American and Ojibwe descent. She is the author of fourteen novels as well as numerous volumes of poetry, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Plague of Doves earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination; and her latest novel, the New York Times bestseller The Round House, won the 2012 National Book Award. BABEL readers will be focusing on The Round House which chronicles a young boy’s coming-of-age on a Native American reservation following the violent rape of his mother. Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.

Round_House318x500About the Book:
One Sunday in the summer of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to reveal the details of what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them to the Round House, a sacred place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

Discussion Questions:

Click here to learn more:

Thursday, April 21, 2016
8:00 PM


Karl Ove Knausgård has been lauded as an international literary sensation for his six-volume epic work entitled, My Struggle. Most frequently compared to Proust, My Struggle is a memoir of hyper-realism that tackles family drama with an unflinching frankness and hypnotic attention to detail. Already translated into more than fifteen languages, the first volume translated in English was a New York Times bestseller and a New Yorker Book of the Year; Book Two was listed among the Wall Street Journal’s 2013 Books of the Year. One volume is released per year with Book Four appearing in April 2015. BABEL readers will begin with Book One. Knausgård was born in Norway in 1968 and currently lives in Sweden with his wife and four children.

MyStruggle318x500About the Book:
This nerve-striking, addictive piece of hyper-realism, by the Norwegian Critics’ Prize-winning author of A Time For Everything, has created a phenomenon throughout Scandinavia. Click here to read The New Republic’s profile of Knausgaard & the My Struggle series. Almost ten years have passed since Karl Ove Knausgaard’s father drank himself to death. Vulnerable and assailed by doubts, he is now embarking on a new novel. With an uncanny eye for detail, Knausgaard breaks down his own life story to its elementary particles, reliving memories, reopening wounds, and examining with candor the turbulence and the epiphanies that emerge from his own experience of fatherhood, the fallout in the wake of his father’s death, and his visceral connection to music, art, and literature. Negotiating intimacy, love, and fear lie at the heart of his movements and mind as he moves from self-deprecation to self-absorption, from craving solitude to exposing an insatiable need for love and admiration, from alienation to harmony. Karl Ove’s dilemmas strike nerves that give us raw glimpses of our particular moment in history as we witness what happens to the sensitive and churning mind of a young man trying- as if his very life depended on it- to find his place in the disjointed world around him. This Proustian masterpiece opens a window into one of the most original minds writing today.

Discussion Questions:

Click here to learn more: