Local Author Spotlight

Our community is home to a large number of outstanding authors. To celebrate them, we will offer – every two months – an introduction to a different children's or adult author who resides or works in one of the four towns in our school district and who has published a new book within the past year. The selection shall be made by a vote of our librarians. Happy reading!

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January – February 2023
Austin Sarat


What is it like to be a writer during a pandemic?

Writing was salvation, or if not salvation, a consuming distraction. I really geared up in two different genres, my usually academic fare and also op-eds / public commentary. The latter is somewhat new, but it provided an almost all-consuming way to vent about what was going on outside beyond the COVID cavern that my home became. I found new outlets – CNN, The Washington Post, Slate, The Hill and fell in love with the form, 800-1000 words. Get to the point, avoid jargon, say something that draws on expertise but has a social, legal, or political pay-off. I found myself alternating between my two genres and that also offered a way to vary the pace and keep myself fully engaged as a writer.

Why did you write your new book?

My new book, Lethal Injection and the False Promise of Humane Execution, continues my several decades long exploration of America's death penalty. It offers the first book-length examination of this nation's latest execution method of choice and the promise that this method will put people to death safely, reliably, and humanely. I wanted to illuminate the way capital punishment has been, and is, sustained by the illusory quest for a perfect execution technology. If the United States is to continue killing inmates in our name, in the name of the people, we have a duty to confront the complex meanings of state killing. I wrote my book in the hope that it would contribute to achieving that goal. It is written for a general audience and tells the story of the quirky and compelling characters who brought us lethal injection and the people who it has been used to kill.

Austin Sarat - Photo

Recent Books by Austin  (see more of his books in our collections  |  see all of his books)

Austin's Favorite Books  (with his comments)

Authors Previously Spotlighted

Alan Goodman

Corinne Andrews

Edward Bruce Bynum

Robert H. Romer

Joseph J. Ellis

Patricia Romney

Martín Espada

John Clayton

Barbara Elleman

Pawan Dhingra

Martha Ackmann

Jonathan Adolph

Lawrence Douglas

Annye C. Anderson

Artemis Roehrig & Corrine Demas

Ilan Stavans

Ocean Vuong

Christopher Benfey

Micha Archer

Joanne Creighton

Bruce Watson

Aaron Becker

Charles Mann

Holly Black

Lewis Mainzer

Nicole Blum & Catherine Newman

Michael Ponsor

David Hyde Costello

William Taubman

Rich Michelson

Madeleine Blais

Cammie McGovern

View our earlier Local Author Spotlights by year: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 & 2017 | Or browse more books by local authors