Challenger Deep

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"The Mariana Trench is 6.8 miles deep. Falling into that abyss is like falling from space." Inspired by his son's experiences with schizophrenia and depression as a teenager, Neil Schusterman's novel Challenger Deep (HarperTeen, 2015) explores the complex world of mental illness. The novel was awarded the 2015 National Book Award in Young People's Literature.

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Ben Fountain

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Ben Fountain reads from his novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, 2012), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, at the 2012 National Book Award finalists reading in New York City. Fountain will join the Why We Write panel on January 9 at Poets & Writers Live in Austin, Texas.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates and Poetic Language

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"Within that economy of words, you choose words that have certain angles, that have certain edges, that effect people in a certain way." Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose memoir Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, 2015) is a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, speaks with Khalil Gibran Muhammad about what he learned as a poet and how those skills continue to influence his writing.

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