Arts & Letters Live

Arts & Letters Live is a literary and performing arts series for all ages that features award-winning authors and performers of regional, national, and international acclaim. The series is recognized for its creative multidisciplinary programming—combining literature with visual arts, music, and film—and for commissioning new work from musicians, dancers, and poets, inspired by works of art in the Museum's collection and special exhibitions.

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Upcoming Events

Format: 3/18/18

Elizabeth Kostova

Sunday, March 18, 2:00 p.m.

Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian was the first debut novel in US publishing history to land at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in its first week on sale; it has sold more than three million copies and been translated into 40 languages. Her new novel, The Shadow Land, follows a young American woman who travels to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping to heal from the loss of her brother. Shortly after arriving, she discovers an urn filled with human ashes and sets out to find its owner, an endeavor that leads to uncovering the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression, and evolves into a meditation on the painful history of an entire country. Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo hails the novel as “thrilling.”


Texas Bound II

Monday, March 19, 7:30 p.m.

Audience favorite G. W. Bailey, perhaps best known for his roles as Sergeant Rizzo in M*A*S*H and Lieutenant Harris in the Police Academy films, returns to Texas Bound to read a short story by Dallas author Harry Hunsicker. Tony Award–winning Broadway, film, and TV star Julie White (Six Feet Under, Grace Under Fire, and the Transformers film series) will read a story by Marjorie Kemper. This evening also features stories by Colum McCann, Julia Heaberlin, and Thomas Adams read by theater, television, and film actor Ashley Wood and Jeffrey Schmidt, Artistic Director of Theater Three in Dallas.


William Middleton

Wednesday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.

William Middleton’s Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil is the first biography about the influential couple known as “The Medici of Modern Art.” The Menils cre­ated an oasis of culture in their Philip Johnson–designed house, hosting everyone from Marlene Dietrich and Renée Magritte to Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. In Houston they built the Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, and the Cy Twombly Gallery, and provided underwriting for the Contemporary Arts Museum. With unprecedented access to private family archives and personal interviews, Middleton has crafted a vivid behind-the-scenes look at the famous couple who shaped Texas culture and the 20th-century art world through civil rights support, art patronage, and public gallery innovations. 


Lidia Bastianich

Friday, April 6, 7:30 p.m.

Promotional Partner: KERA

Bestselling cookbook author, Emmy Award–winning television personality, and successful restaurateur Lidia Bastianich discusses her heartwarming memoir My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food. Raised in Pula, a formerly Italian city turned Yugoslavian under Tito’s Communist regime, her family is ultimately forced to flee to Trieste, Italy, where they spend two years in a refugee camp before moving to the United States—a hugely formative experience in Lidia’s life. Told with her hallmark warmth and gusto, this memoir details her close-knit family and her passion for food, which ultimately leads to multiple restaurants, many cookbooks, and 20 years on public television as the host of her own cooking show, Lidia’s Kitchen


Luis Alberto Urrea & Francisco Cantú

Sunday, April 8, 2:30 p.m.

This event will pair two powerful authors exploring the border both in fact and fiction. In The Line Becomes a River, Francisco Cantú, a former US Border Patrol guard, makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line. Cantú is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and 2017 Whiting Award, and is a former Fulbright fellow. Luis Alberto Urrea’s novel The House of Broken Angels is the definitive Mexican-American immigrant story of a beloved and ailing patriarch, Miguel Angel De La Cruz, who summons his entire clan for one last birthday party. Teeming with brilliance and humor, Urrea’s indelible portrait of a complex family reminds us what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. 


Danielle Allen

Monday, April 23, 7:30 p.m.

Danielle Allen was award­ed a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.” Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Allen’s Our Declaration reinterprets the promise of American democracy through our founding text, combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration line by line with a vivid evocation of the colonial world. Bestselling author Andrew Solomon praises Allen’s 2017 memoir, Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., saying, “In this narrative of freedom and incarceration, education and disadvantage, rehabilitation and punishment, Danielle Allen paints an unforgettable portrait of a cousin she loved. The pacing is brisk and novelistic, but the message is large and clear: we need urgently to reform the system through which we process juveniles who commit crime, because the cur­rent system perpetuates the very injustices it was designed to address.”


David Sedaris

Monday, April 30, 7:30 p.m.

Beloved satirist David Sedaris returns for his ninth consecutive year with Arts & Letters Live to share new and unpublished essays, imparting his incisive social critiques and sharing his sardonic wit with devoted fans. Hailed as the “rock star of writers,” Sedaris has become one of America’s preeminent humor writers, with bestselling books such as Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays including Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.  


Naomi Shihab Nye

Sunday, May 6, 3:30 p.m.

Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” Born to a Palestinian-American father and an American mother, she grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her family heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling the world leading writing workshops for all ages, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. She is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes; her work has been presented on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion and on two PBS specials. Nye is a Lannan Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow, and has received numerous awards for her poetry and children’s literature. At this event, she will debut a new poem inspired by a work of art in the DMA’s collection and juxtapose art in the collection with a live reading of her poetry.


Noah Charney

Thursday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.

International bestselling author and art histo­rian Noah Charney has been hailed as “the Sherlock Holmes of art theft” and is famous for his dynamic exploration of art crime. His new book The Museum of Lost Art explores the world’s most important lost treasures through an illus­trated guide to art that has been destroyed, stolen, and vandalized. In constant demand as a lecturer, Charney gave a sold-out talk at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for his previous book The Art of Forgery, which was an Amazon #1 bestseller. Charney’s first novel, The Art Thief, was a bestseller in five countries and translated into 17 languages. He often appears as a presenter and guest expert on National Geographic and NPR. 


Michael Ondaatje

Tuesday, May 22, 7:30 p.m.

In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself, Michael Ondaatje tells a vivid, thrilling story of violence and love, intrigue and desire, in his new novel Warlight. In London immediately following World War II, 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, find themselves parentless and in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth, who they suspect might be a criminal. A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand at that time, and it is this journey—through reality, recollection, and imagination—that is told in this magnificent novel. Among Ondaatje’s many recognitions, his novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize and was adapted into a multi-award-winning Oscar movie.