Joyce Carol Oates is the author of twenty novels, of which the most recent was Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. She is also the author of many volumes of short stones, poems and essays, as well as plays. Her short stories have been included in the O. Henry Prize collections. She has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the 1970 National Book Award. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She was the 1990 winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story.

Francine du Plessix Gray is the author of books of fiction and non-fiction, including the novels Lovers and Tyrants, World Without End and October Blood. For over two decades, her fiction and political essays have appeared in the New Yorker. Her work has also appeared in other publications, among them The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Rolling Stone. In 1983, she received the National Magazine Award for Best Reporting for her articles on Klaus Barbie and the French Resistance, which appeared in Vanity Fair. Her most recent book is Soviet Women: Walking the Tightrope.

Joel Conarroe is President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is the author of John Berryman: An Introduction to the Poetry and William Carlos Williams' Paterson: Language and Landscape. His essays on American literature and reviews have appeared in scholarly journals and newspaper book review sections. He was on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle from 1980-87 and was Chairman of the Fiction Jury, National Book Awards, in 1988. He was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Jury for Poetry in 1984 and, in 1989, a member of the Pulitzer Prize Jury for Fiction.