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August 11, 2020


Donna Scott-Martin

(301) 699-3500, ext. 6152

Library Hosts Virtual Events with National Bestselling Authors Jason Reynolds, Bassey Ikpi, Michele Harper, Steven Rowley, and More

Largo, Maryland – The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) will host a blockbuster lineup of national bestselling and debut authors throughout the late summer and early fall. Featured authors include Prince George’s County native and National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds, Prince George’s County resident and national bestselling author Bassey Ikpi (who wrote part of her book at PGCMLS’ Bowie Branch Library), debut author and physician Michele Harper (“The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir”), Calvin Baker (“A More Perfect Reunion: Race, Integration, and the Future of America), Steven Rowley (“The Editor”), Byron Lane (“A Star is Bored”), author and advocate Simran Jeet Singh (“Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon”), and One Maryland One Book author Lisa See (“The Island of Sea Women”).

Upcoming author events are presented with a wide range of local and national organizations: the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Maryland Humanities, partner public library systems in Maryland, and the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission. Throughout the public health emergency, PGCMLS has presented a robust lineup of virtual programs, including appearances by Ibram X. Kendi, Washington Nationals and DC United players, and distinguished local authors and poets. The Library has also featured local authors on a weekly basis through the Antoine & Friends: Local Children’s Authors Series and Local Authors Series.

PGCMLS virtual author events are streamed live online on a number of platforms. Please visit for the direct broadcast links for upcoming events.

Chronological List of Featured Events

  • Monday, August 17 at 7 pm | Steven Rowley on “The Editor”
  • Tuesday, August 18 at 7 pm | Kimblera Lawson Roby on “The Woman God Created You to Be”
  • Wednesday, August 19 at 8 pm | Byron Lane on “A Star is Bored”
  • Thursday, August 20 at 7 pm | Calvin Baker on "A More Perfect Reunion: Race, Integration, and the Future of America"
  • Monday, August 24 at 7 pm | Bassey Ikpi on “I’m Telling You the Truth But I’m Lying”
  • Thursday, August 27 at 7 pm | Author Works: Alice Randall on “Black Bottom Saints”
  • Friday, August 28 at 10 am | Simran Jeet Singh Reads “Faujah Singh Keeps Going”
  • Tuesday, September 1 at 7 pm | Jason Reynolds
  • Tuesday, September 1 at 7 pm | Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt on “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do”
  • Wednesday, September 9 at 7 pm | Michele Harper on “The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir”
  • Thursday, September 10 at 7 pm | Fredrik Backman on “Anxious People”
  • Sunday, October 4 at 7 pm | One Maryland One Book: Lisa See on “The Island of Sea Women”

Jason Reynolds

Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds joins PGCMLS CEO Roberta Phillips in conversation on September 1, 2020 at 7 pm EST. Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. His many books include When I Was the Greatest, The Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Look Both Ways, and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC and grew up in Oxon Hill, Maryland. This event is sponsored by the following Library Friends Groups: Accokeek, Bowie, Hillcrest Heights, Laurel, Mount Rainier, New Carrollton, and Oxon Hill. This event is also made possible with support from the PGCMLS Foundation.

Partnership with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association

PGCMLS launches a new collaboration with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association that showcases prominent authors whose work focuses on the Black experience in the United States. The series starts this August and September with Calvin Baker (August 20 at 7 pm), Bassey Ikpi (August 24 at 7 pm), and Michele Harper (September 9 at 7 pm).

The Black Caucus American Library Association, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020, serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.

Critically-acclaimed author Calvin Baker discusses his new book, "A More Perfect Reunion: Race, Integration, and the Future of America" on August 20 at 7 pm. Kirkus Review describes Baker’s new book as "Required reading for any American serious about dismantling systemic racism" (Kirkus Review). He presents a provocative case for integration as the single most radical, discomfiting idea in America, yet the only enduring solution to the racism that threatens our democracy. Baker has taught at Yale, Columbia, and the University of Leipzig in Germany, and is the author of four novels: “Naming the New World, “Once Two Heroes,” “Dominion,” and “Grace.” Baker’s appearance is also co-presented with the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission. He is interviewed by Silvia Bolivar of the PGCMLS Board of Library Trustees and Elizabeth Ajunwa of the Glenarden Branch Library.

Bassey Ikpi embodies the brilliance of multifaceted creative minds. The writer, performer, advocate and author of the instant New York Times bestselling book, “I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying,” joins PGCMLS on August 24 at 7 pm. Essence esteemed this debut collection of essays as “beautiful and compelling,” while Audible defines the writing as both “visceral” and “comforting.” Appearing on stages and screens across the world as a public speaker and TV personality, Bassey first gained public acclaim as an internationally recognized poet. In a past life, she was a featured poet on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and toured with its Tony Award-winning Broadway show. Also an active voice in pop culture commentary and the mental health community, Bassey has been published by The Root, Huffington Post, and Essence, as well as in anthologies including Rookie On Love from acclaimed editor Tavi Gevinson. As the founder of The Siwe Project, a mental health organization, Bassey also created the global movement #NoShameDay, an initiative that aims to reduce stigma and increase mental health awareness.

New York Times bestselling author Michele Harper, an emergency room physician, explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself in “The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir.” Harper shares her experience as a Black female physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white with PGCMLS on September 9 at 7 pm. Harper is interviewed by Nicholas A. Brown, the Library’s COO for Communication and Outreach, and Hawa Jalloh of the Glenarden Branch Library.

Summer Reads: Steven Rowley, Byron Lane, Simran Jeet Singh, and Fredrik Backman

National bestselling author Steven Rowley discusses his latest novel “The Editor” (August 17 at 7 pm), which Oprah describes as “filled with whimsy and warmth.” The book follows the story of a struggling writer who is trying to get his big break, with a little help from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, his editor and unexpected friend. Rowley is also the author of “Lily and the Octopus,” which has been translated into nineteen languages. He has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, Rowley is a graduate of Emerson College. He lives in Palm Springs, CA. Rowley is interviewed by Nicholas A. Brown of PGCMLS.

Byron Lane discusses his debut novel, “A Star is Bored,” on August 19 at 8 pm. The book is about a celebrity assistant struggling to manage his eccentric and hilarious movie star boss, inspired in part by Lane’s time as assistant to beloved actress Carrie Fisher. The novel has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, OK Magazine, and People Magazine which hails: "Funny, dishy, deeply affectionate...the force is with him." Lane is also playwright and web series writer. He wrote and co-starred in the play “Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist,” a comedy hit that had sold out runs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Edinburgh Fringe. Lane is a regional Emmy Award winner from his time as a TV News journalist. He's originally from New Orleans and lives in Palm Springs, CA. Roswell Encina, chief communications officer of the Library of Congress interviews.

Nationally renowned author and advocate Simran Jeet Singh celebrates the launch of his debut children’s book, “Faujah Singh Keeps Going,” on Friday, August 28 at 10 am. "Fauja Singh Keeps Going" is the first-ever children’s book from a major publisher to center a Sikh story. The true story of Fauja Singh, who broke world records to become the first one hundred-year-old to run a marathon, shares valuable lessons on the source of his grit, determination to overcome obstacles, and commitment to positive representation of the Sikh community. Dr. Simran Jeet Singh is an educator, writer, activist, and scholar who speaks regularly on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity. He is currently based at Union Seminary, and he’s the first Sikh wire-service columnist in U.S. history. Singh connects with a diversity of audiences by bantering on Twitter (where he has 80,000+ followers), doing on-air commentary on programs like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and hosting Spirited, a new podcast on faith and spirituality.

International bestselling Swedish author Fredrik Backman (“A Man Called Ove”) joins PGCMLS and Maryland libraries to discuss his new novel “Anxious People.” The book is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined. His books are published in more than forty countries. PGCMLS co-presents this event with the Frederick County Public Libraries, Curious Iguana, Weinberg Center for the Arts, and public library systems throughout Maryland.

One Maryland One Book: Lisa See

One Maryland One Book is an annual program that brings diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book. The 2020 book is “The Island of Sea Women” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa See. The book chronicles the lives and friendship between Young-sook and Mi-ja, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju. They become the closest of friends. However, their differences are impossible to ignore:Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position of leading the divers; whereas Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator and will forever carry that mark. From the Japanese occupation of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, to the Korean War, events will push their seemingly unbreakable bond to its breaking point. This beautifully written and thoughtful novel shines a light on the remarkable haenyeo culture and two women who are a part of it. Author Lisa See launches her Maryland virtual book tour in conversation with PGCMLS CEO Roberta Phillips on October 4 at 7 pm. The event is co-presented with the Prince George’s Community College Library, PGCMLS Foundation, and Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission. One Maryland One Book is a program of Maryland Humanities.

Collaborations with Maryland Public Libraries

PGCMLS continues to strengthen its programming collaboration with public libraries throughout Maryland, on the heels of the successful virtual event with Ibram X. Kendi on “How to Be an Antiracist” in July.

Kimberla Lawson Roby reads from her latest book, “The Woman God Created You to Be,” on August 18 at 7 pm. Roby is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 28 books. Her novels deal with very real issues, including women empowerment, sexual harassment, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, marriage, infidelity, sibling rivalry and more. Roby’s books, including Better Late than Never, Best Friends Forever, The Perfect Marriage, Sin No More, The Prodigal Son and Sin of a Woman, have sold nearly 3 million copies and offer a message of redemption, forgiveness and the realities of everyday life. She is the recipient of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction and the 2017 SOAR Radio Trailblazer of Honor award. This event is presented in partnership with Baltimore County Public Library, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Wicomico Public Libraries, and Worcester County Library.

Alice Randall discusses her kaleidoscopic novel, “Black Bottom Saints,” on August 27 at 7 pm. The book is a celebration of African American life, culture and achievement as refracted through the prism of a famed Detroit neighborhood during its decades of glory. Randall is the Harvard-educated author of novels, including The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada's Rules. An award-winning songwriter, she co-wrote the #1 hit XXX’s and OOO’s which celebrates Aretha Franklin. With her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, she co-authored the acclaimed cookbook Soul Food Love which won the NAACP Image award and the young adult novel The Diary of B. B. Bright, Possible Princess, which received the Phillis Wheatley Award. A Professor and Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, Randall teaches courses on soul food, African-American children's literature, and African-American film. A native of Detroit, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Presented in collaboration with the Howard County Library System and Charles County Public Library.

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt discusses her book, “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” on September 1 at 7 pm. Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt offers us the language and courage we need to face one of the biggest and most troubling issues of our time. She exposes racial bias at all levels of society—in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and criminal justice system. Yet she also offers us tools to address it. Dr. Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford and a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named one of Foreign Policy‘s 100 Leading Global Thinkers. She also is co-founder and co-director of SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions), a Stanford Center that brings together researchers and practitioners to address significant social problems.

For Media

Select authors and PGCMLS staff may be available for interviews. Please contact Donna Scott-Martin ( with inquiries.

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About Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 915,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve booklovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike. The Books from Birth and Ready 2 Read programs make the Library the primary source of early literacy education and Kindergarten readiness programs in the County. PGCMLS’ robust online offerings include curated content collections for kids, teens, educators, Spanish speakers, and more. Special programs include the D.R.E.A.M. Lab, STEM Pals, and 3D printing, which offer teens and lifelong learners with opportunities to learn cutting-edge technology and STEM skills for job readiness or personal enrichment. The Library’s Laurel Branch Library received the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Award and was designated the best new public building in Maryland.