Simpson Literary Project



Fall news from the Simpson Literary Project

Dear Simpsonistas,

We have lots of news to share with you: a new Executive Director, an upcoming event with Sean Penn (yes, that Sean Penn) at UC Berkeley, and updates on our 2019 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize recipient and our writing workshops. The $50,000 2020 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize is now considering nominations from publishers, authors, and others; the link is below.

Thanks, as always, for your interest and support.

-Joe, Founding Board Chair

Meet our new Executive Director

DDS head shot--IMG_7434prv_lo_res.jpg

We are elated to announce that in April we brought onboard Diane Del Signore as our Executive Director. Diane comes to us with extensive experience leading both nonprofit and corporate teams. She directed for over ten years global partnerships for Hewlett-Packard, managing a worldwide team of sales, marketing, and technical personnel. Then for ten years she served as executive director of a statewide nonprofit dedicated to sustainable agriculture. Over her entire professional career, she has been actively involved with nonprofit boards devoted to arts, education, and community health. Beyond that, Diane is an urban farmer, raising goats, chickens, rabbits; she also teaches cooking classes with her local 4-H club. She is a Stanford University MBA, and throughout her life she has cultivated love and admiration of writers and writing, teachers and teaching. She reads more books than I do, and her imagination and strategic thinking is nothing short of inspirational. That is why the Simpson Project looks forward to growing and continuing to succeed with her at the helm for many years to come. Please feel free to reach out to her.
-Joseph Di Prisco, Founding Board Chair

September 16: Sean Penn in conversation with Joseph Di Prisco at UC Berkeley


The Simpson Literary Project and Rare Bird present Sean Penn in conversation with Joseph Di Prisco. Sean Penn has been making powerful, fearless films for over three decades—and his new novel crackles with the same restless energy. Join the Academy Award winning actor, director and writer for a candid conversation about his new novel, Bob Honey Sings Jimmy Crack Corn—a madcap satire and political thriller that only Penn could have written.

Monday, September 16, 7 - 9 pm
Maude Fife room at Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley
All General Admission tickets include a pre-signed copy of Penn's book, courtesy of East Bay Booksellers. Student tickets are also available.
Full info + tickets

Laila Lalami in the News

Laila Lalami The Other Americans

2019 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize recipient Laila Lalami has been receiving critical acclaim for her most recent the novel, The Other Americans. This summer the book was chosen for the Los Angeles Times' book club.

“'The Other Americans' is a beautiful, compassionate novel from a writer with keen insight into the human condition and a rare gift for crafting perfect prose," wrote Michael Shaub in his Los Angeles Times review.

We couldn't agree more.

You'll also find two book reviews of the novel on NPR's website, one by Bethane Patrick and the other by Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan. Lalami fans will also be pleased to find this NPR interview with the author.

Positive Impact of Simpson Project Writing Workshops

Simpson Fellow Laura Ritland

Simpson Fellow Laura Ritland

We are hearing (and reading!) about the positive impact of this year's Simpson Project writing workshops. Our Fellows have been engaged with high school students in Oakland and we were thrilled to present Joyce Carol Oates for an adult memoir-writing workshop through the Lafayette Library and Learning Center in March.

Simpson Fellow Laura Ritland recently wrote about her experience teaching high school girls through our partnership with Girls, Inc.

"Though many of my students had never formally enrolled in a writing workshop or written creative work beyond what had been required for their high school English class," she wrote, "it didn’t take anything but the gentlest of nudges to let them see themselves not just as readers, but as writers more than worthy of the pen."

You'll be able to read more of Laura's essay in Simpsonistas: Vol 2, to be launched in October. Also included in Simpsonistas: Vol 2 is a marvelous, inspiring essay by David Wood about the Simpson Writing Workshop at Northgate High School. 

2020 Prize Nominations are Open!

Give us your suggestions

Nominations for the Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates prize are being received via Submittable. The Simpson Literary Project awards the annual prize to a distinguished mid-career author of fiction. Here is the link for publishers, editors, authors, agents, and others.

If you would like to recommend an author for the Prize, we would love to hear suggestions directly from you. Please tell us here.

Simpson Literary Project