Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His play Disgraced was staged at New York’s LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest play is Junk: The Golden Age of Debt, which premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in August 2016. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing. He was the featured author for a PEN President’s Circle Author’s Evening in Fall 2014. He joined the PEN America Board in 2015.