Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) hosted a very special event on May 21, “An Evening With Your Favorite Authors,” to benefit the Hoffman Breast Center at Harvard-affiliated Mt. Auburn Hospital.
The Hoffman Breast Center is named in honor of the Hoffman family and novelist Alice Hoffman, who hosted the event. The center provides educational resources, preventive care and self-examination training, and referrals for breast cancer patients.
The event began with book signings by Hoffman and six other popular authors — Ann Hood, Gregory Maguire, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Susan Orlean, Robert B. Parker, and Jodi Picoult. While the authors greeted their fans and inscribed their signatures on stacks of eagerly proffered volumes, other guests enjoyed wine and finger food on the A.R.T.’s patio, basking in the cool and sunny spring weather. Inside the theater’s lobby, a violinist and a pianist could be heard performing classical favorites over the conversational din.
Afterward, the guests took their seats in the A.R.T.’s main stage area for an evening of readings, award presentations, and a performance by the Harvard Din & Tonics. Entertainment reporter Sara Edwards, co-host and producer for “Backstage With Barry Nolan” on CN8, served as master of ceremonies.
Hoffman, born in New York City in 1952, has published 16 novels, two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. They include “Property Of,” “Here on Earth,” “The River King,” and “At Risk.” Her novel “Practical Magic,” was made into a film by Warner Bros. starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman.
Her newest novel is “Skylight Confessions,” the story of a young girl who marries on a whim and the impact of that choice on herself and her family.
Hoffman donated her publishing advance from “Local Girls,” a collection of inter-related stories about love and loss on Long Island, to help create the Hoffman Breast Center.
Hood, a former flight attendant, published her first novel, “Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine,” in 1987. Her other novels include “Waiting to Vanish,” “Three-Legged Horse,” “Something Blue,” and “Properties of Water.” Her most recent book is “The Knitting Circle.”
Maguire is the author of “Son of a Witch,” “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister,” “Lost,” “Mirror Mirror,” and “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name.
Mitchard has written five best-selling novels including “The Deep End of the Ocean,” which was the first book chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. She is also a screenwriter, and served as a speechwriter for former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.
Orlean is best-known for her book “The Orchid Thief,” the inspiration for the film “Adaptation,” in which Orlean herself was eccentrically portrayed by Meryl Streep. A staff writer for The New Yorker, she is also the author of “Saturday Night” and “The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.”
Parker has published 35 novels featuring the Boston-based, wise-cracking private detective Spenser. The books were the basis for the TV series “Spenser for Hire.” Parker has also written six novels based on the character Jesse Stone, an alcoholic small-town police chief, and six featuring female detective Sunny Randall, inspired by a request from actress Helen Hunt that Parker create a female detective.
Picoult has written 14 novels, including “The Tenth Circle” and her newest novel, “Nineteen Minutes.” In addition to her novels for adults and young adults, she has also written five issues of the DC Comics series “Wonder Woman.”