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Wide range of literary speakers lined up for Pittsburgh

| Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, 4:03 p.m.
Michael Chabon
Ulf Andersen | Getty Images
Michael Chabon
Patti Smith
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Patti Smith
Colson Whitehead
madeline whitehead
Colson Whitehead
John Cleese
Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
John Cleese
Gen. Martin Dempsey
Gen. Martin Dempsey

Award-winning novelists and poets, historians and statesmen, and a bona fide rock 'n' roll legend highlight the 2016-17 literary season in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' Ten Evenings — rebranded from Literary Evenings and increasing the number of lectures from eight to 10 — at Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland debuts Sept. 26 with Siddhartha Mukherjee. The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Emperor of All Maladies,” a history of cancer dating back 4,600 years to Egypt, Mukherjee is a staff physician at Columbia University Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York City.

The most anticipated Ten Evenings' event might just be Patti Smith's Oct. 10 appearance. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Smith won a National Book Award in 2010 for her memoir “Just Kids.” Her new book “M Train” continues her ruminations about poetry, art and life. Colson Whitehead, whose novel “The Underground Railroad” was recently selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, appears Oct. 24, and Diane Rehm, the longtime National Public Radio host and author of the memoir “On My Own,” will speak Nov. 14.

Also in the series: Douglas Brinkley (Nov. 21), Elizabeth Strout (Dec. 5), Helen McDonald (Jan. 30), Lauren Groff (Feb. 20), Roxanne Gay (March 6) and Timothy Egan (April 3).

David Sedaris, the humorist and author of the essay collections “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls,” visits Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland Oct. 11.

Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' New & Noted will host author and bookstore owner Ann Patchett Oct. 7 and Alan Cumming, the noted actor and writer, Oct. 14. Both events are at Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Oakland.

Profilic Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith appears at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library Oct. 18 for the library's third annual Joseph Wertheim Memorial Author Lecture.

TheUniversity of Pittsburgh will host one of its esteemed graduates, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, Dec. 9 at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. Chabon's new novel, “Moonglow,” will be published in November.

ThePittsburgh Speakers Series, presented by Robert Morris University at Heinz Hall, Downtown, debuts Oct. 5, featuring Academy Award-winning actress and singer Rita Moreno. Moreno received a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Ehud Barak, prime minister of Israel from 1999-2001, will speak Oct. 26. “Racism in America,” a panel discussion, will feature Michele Norris, former host of NPR's “All Things Considered,” Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley, and Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Nov. 16.

Also appearing in the Pittsburgh Speakers Series: John Cleese (Jan. 25), one of the architects of Monty Python's Flying Circus; Gen. Martin Dempsey, (Feb. 15) former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; legendary newscaster and journalist Ted Koppel (March 29); and Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham (April 19).

Ada Limon, the National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 2015 for “Bright Dead Things,” kicks off the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series Sept. 22 at the University of Pittsburgh's Public Health Auditorium in Oakland. Also appearing in the series: Amy Bloom (Oct. 17), Maggie Nelson (Feb. 23), Ta-Nehisi Coates (March 20) and Edwidge Danticat (April 13).

Words & Pictures, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Oakland featuring children's authors, debuts Sept. 18 with Ann Martin. Other children's writers appearing include Fierce Reads with Marrisa Meyer, Emma Mills, Caleb Roehrig and Anna Banks (Oct. 4), Kwame Alexander (Oct. 16), Robert Sabuda (Dec. 4), Patricia Polacco (Jan. 8), Chris Grabenstein (Feb. 12) and Gene Luen Yung (March 19).

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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