East Hampton Authors Night: A Conversation With Linda Villarosa

Each summer, a bookworm’s paradise appears in the heart of East Hampton: Authors Night.

On Saturday, August 12, East Hampton Library will present its 19th Annual Authors Night fundraiser. Known as the “Premier Literary Event of the Hamptons” and one of the largest and most successful library-author events in the country, the event celebrates authors, their books, and their readership by bringing them together to form connections off the page.

Authors Night kicks off at 5 PM with the Authors Reception, where over 100 authors across all genres are seated behind tables displaying their books under a grand tent. Guests are invited to chat with their favorite authors, purchase their books, and get them personally inscribed while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and wine. Participating authors include Jim Acosta, Robert A. Caro, Misty Copeland, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lauren Graham, Maggie Haberman, and Jann Wenner, to name a few. 

Authors Night. Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for East Hampton Library

At 8 PM, supporters of Authors Night host intimate dinner parties at private Hamptons homes, which guests can attend alongside one or more of the authors. This celebrity-studded event will be held under a grand tent on the Herrick Park field at 67 Newtown Lane. Dinner party tickets include entry to the reception. Proceeds benefit the East Hampton Library, which has been providing free library services to the East Hampton community since 1897.

“We’re thankful to the East Hampton Village Board for facilitating the use of Herrick Park and grateful for the generosity, participation, and support of both the local and literary communities,” said Dennis Fabiszak, East Hampton Library Director. “The funds raised at Authors Night enable the East Hampton Library to provide our diverse community with essential programming and services throughout the year — all free of charge.”

Author, journalist, editor, novelist, and educator Linda Villarosa will be one of this year’s participants. She is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, former executive editor of Essence magazine, and has edited the health pages for The New York Times and worked on health coverage for the Science Times. Her articles covering race, inequality, and health hold distinctions from organizations including The American Medical Writers’ Association, the Arthur Ashe Institute, Lincoln University, the New York Association of Black Journalists, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association, and

the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. She is the author and co-author of various books focused on the experiences of Black women, including a novel. Her most recent book, “Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on Health in America,” was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist and one of the New York Times’ top 10 books of the year. We caught up with Villarosa to ask her about her work.

Your award-winning articles and books focus on the experiences of Black women in America. Do you face any challenges as a queer Black woman writing about your own experience and the experiences of your community?

I don’t feel as though I have challenges about being queer and Black — at least anymore. Earlier in my career, I had backlash for being open about being queer, sometimes from the Black community. At this point, I don’t feel that. I feel acceptance and appreciation and am grateful and proud to be both Black and queer.

“Under the Skin” brings to light the facets of the American healthcare system that cause Black individuals to “live sicker and die quicker” than their white counterparts. What action can we take against systemic racism in America’s healthcare system?

First, individuals who have faced oppression and marginalization in the medical system should care for themselves and each other and not blame themselves for the unfair treatment they may have received. As a society we have to recognize that our healthcare system is broken and needs repair. It is unfair that we do not have universal healthcare — medical care should be accessible, free, and equitable.

When and why did you start writing?

I have always wanted to be a writer, and writing has always come naturally to me. When I was a little girl my great-aunt Mae recognized this interest and nurtured me. However, my mother was worried that I wouldn’t be able to support myself from writing. So she encouraged me to go to law school. Eventually, I convinced her that being a journalist was a writing job that paid, and she was okay with that.

What do you hope readers will take away from “Under the Skin”?

I hope readers will understand that the racial health disparities that I explain in my book are not the fault of individual behavior or some kind of physiological difference between Black Americans and other Americans, but are the fault of our society and the medical system itself that sometimes harms Black people, and other marginalized people.

Do you have any forthcoming projects, writing related or otherwise?

I am excited that Soledad O’Brien’s production company has optioned my book and we are working on a documentary project together. I am also always reporting and writing about the intersection of race, public, and justice for The New York Times Magazine, but each story takes a long time. I hope to finish another story this year. I also love and am proud to teach journalism at both the City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, my alma mater.

Authors Night aims to close the gap between writers and their readers, giving them a space to connect and continue important conversations off the page. Can you speak to the importance of engaging with your readership?

I am passionate about the topics I write about and am always excited and humbled by readers and thinkers who appreciate my work and want to engage further.

Reception-only tickets as well as dinner party tickets are available for purchase online, as well as a full list of participating authors, at authorsnight.org.

An East End Experience

2024 © James Lane Post®. All Rights Reserved.

Covering North Fork and Hamptons Events, Hamptons Arts, Hamptons Entertainment, Hamptons Dining, and Hamptons Real Estate. Hamptons Lifestyle Magazine with things to do in the Hamptons and the North Fork.