Event, Past Event, Photos, Post, Undaunted

National Arts Club: “Undaunted” Book Talk with Sarah Watling “Tomorrow Perhaps the Future” and Laurie Gwen Shapiro – June 5, 2023

June 5, 2023




Way back last March, A.A. Knopf paired the then forthcoming Tomorrow Perhaps the Future by Sarah Watling with Undaunted for a Women’s History Month promotion. The savvy publicity team at Knopf, with Kathy Zuckerman running point for Undaunted and Sarah New for Tomorrow, proposed an event with the two of us to the literary committee of the National Arts Club, led by Julie Just Reiss. They liked the idea and scheduled us for Monday, June 5, 2023, coinciding with Sarah’s visit from London. The club chose Laurie Gwen Shapiro to be our interlocutor and she kept the conversation flowing. For me, this was pure wish fulfillment as I had read Sarah’s book in galleys, having been asked to provide a blurb.

Julie, as head of the literary committee, hosted all three of us at a dinner at the club just before the crowd gathered. Laurie regaled us with tales of her sizable number of relatives, including her father, who had lived to 100.


Dinner at the National Arts Club. Julie, Brooke and Sarah on the lefthand side of the table, Laurie in light pink across from us on th right.

Meanwhile, the crowd for the conversation gathered in the large room through the wide central corridor and was mostly assembled before we came into the hall. Toward the back I could see a quartet of familiar faces that I hadn’t laid eyes on in years. It was a segment of the still-tight students from the first of my many Undergraduate Honors classes, the NYU grads of 2009 Lyndsey MatthewsSteph Wu, Michael Gluckstadt, and their “elder” (he was a grad student pal but my assistant for a time) Nick DeRenzo, all so successful now, these 14 years later, some with babies. Their senior projects were exceptional and still live on the NYU Journalism Shoeleather site for honors projects. Lyndsey drew the shoes. Issie Lapowsky wrote to say she was sorry not to be with the group but she was babysitting her son. The brilliant photographer Starr Ockenga and the terrific author Louise Bernikow, both of whom I admire and neither of whom I’d seen in eons, were another huge surprise. Alison Gilbert, a much newer friend and fellow writer, was also on  hand. I loved that.

I wish I’d remembered to take a photos. My former students obliged this morning with an Instagram story.


This is only one half of the audience.

This appeared on Twitter this morning from an audience member I didn’t know,  Bobby Crace. What a generous thing to do.


The National Arts Club does it up right. Julie gave an excellent introduction and Laurie ably connected the two books, which both cover some of the internationals, in my case Americans, in Sarah’s, an array, which also included men, though not the usual suspects (Hemingway, Orwell.) Her book moves from the call of Nancy Cunard to writers and poets to declare a side in the mortal struggle against fascism that the war in Spain (1936-39) represented.

I brought my Zoom H-6, knowing how good Sarah’s presentation would be and then in the rush to the podium neglected to take it out and turn it on. I so regret this.

Some of the ephemera. The pre-game tweet:

The National Arts Club event poster:


As featured on TheCityLife.org:




This appeared on Net Galleys March 23 2023: