Free Lawn Talks

We are pleased to invite the community to join us for our series of free 2023 Pavilion Lawn Talks.


We want our local community to enjoy all that SVWC has to offer, which is why we have opened up select Pavilion Talks for FREE seating on the Sun Valley Pavilion lawn. Bring a picnic, blanket, and low-back chair and join us July 22-24 to hear some of our country’s most inspiring minds at work.


Select talks will be broadcast live to the Pavilion lawn big screen (see below). Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning 30 minutes prior to each talk. You are also welcome to browse in the Bookstore Tent and join us for book signings. No registration or ticketing required.


Please contact us with any questions at [email protected] or 208-726-5454.

Saturday, July 22

Ed Yong with Ezra Klein


3:30 – 4:45 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist ED YONG discusses his new bestselling book, An Immense World, with The New York Times columnist and podcast host EZRA KLEIN. As the author describes it, and as Klein will investigate and articulate  in his own way, Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, and electric and magnetic fields. But every kind of animal, including humans, is enclosed within its unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of our immense world.

Abraham Verghese


5:15 – 6:30 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

More than a decade in the writing, ABRAHAM VERGHESE’s second novel spans the years 1900 to 1977. It is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, where it follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. A shimmering evocation of a bygone India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and a testament to the difficulties undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. Join Verghese—a deeply admired author and a physician with a reputation for his focus on healing at a time when technology often overwhelms the human side of medicine—for a talk about his new book, his life, and his work.

Sunday, July 23

Hernan Diaz, Emily St. John Mandel, & Mohsin Hamid with Ayad Akhtar


9:30 – 10:30 AM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

Prize-winning author AYAD AKHTAR moderates a panel with three of today’s most exciting novelists—HERNAN DIAZ, MOHSIN HAMID, and EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL. In their work, each writer engages with real-world issues—the pandemic, race, money, climate change—but spins them into fictional magic in the alternate worlds they create, alerting, alarming, and dazzling us in equal measure. They will talk about their recent books, their storytelling ambitions, and the writers and thinkers who have influenced them most.

Jennifer Homans

George Balanchine’s 20th Century

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

Arguably the greatest choreographer who ever lived, George Balanchine was one of the cultural titans of the 20th century. His radical approach to choreography— and life—reinvented the art of ballet and made him a legend. JENNIFER HOMANS, the dance critic for The New Yorker and a former dancer herself, spent more than a decade researching Balanchine’s life and times to write Mr. B, her magisterial, engrossing history of the 20th century through the lens of one of its most influential artists. On her own and in conversation with PETER BOAL, Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Homans will guide us through Balanchine’s tumultuous and high-pitched life story and into the making of his extraordinary dances.

Evan Osnos, Imani Perry, & Maria Hinojosa with Judy Woodruff


3:30 – 4:30 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

In the time since she stepped down as PBS NewsHour’s anchor, JUDY WOODRUFF has been engaged in a national reporting project, traveling and listening to people talk about their fears and their hopes. She will share some of her early findings with three other passionate observers of this country: Pulitzer Prize winner MARIA HINOJOSA, Anchor and Executive Producer of Latino USA; National Book Award winner EVAN OSNOS, who chronicled his own transnational reporting journey in Wildland, the Making of America’s Fury; and IMANI PERRY, 2022 National Book Award-winning author of South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation. They will look at the complicated issues that divide us—race, immigration, and inequality—and talk about the beliefs and values that still hold the country together.

David Grann


5:00 – 6:00 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

It seems that every book that award-winning New Yorker staff writer DAVID GRANN writes (Killers of the Flower Moon, The Lost City of Z) turns into a bestseller and then into an excellent major movie or TV series. There’s a reason: he is one of our greatest chroniclers of true stories of endurance, bravery, hubris, malevolence, and moral conflict. Join Grann for the story behind his riveting new book—a grand 18th-century tale of human behavior at the extremes, in which not only the captain and crew of the ship The Wager ended up on trial, but also the very idea of empire itself.

Monday, July 24

Anne Applebaum, Evan Osnos, & Robert Kagan


11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

ANNE APPLEBAUM, ROBERT KAGAN, and EVAN OSNOS—three of our most cogent and influential writers on global affairs and history—sit down to discuss the geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing battle between democracy and authoritarianism, Vladimir Putin’s endgame, China’s power plays, and the future of the Western alliance, among other urgent questions.

Jake Barton


3:30 – 4:30 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

Much as we champion books and language at SVWC, we also believe in the experiential power of storytelling to create transformation in any form. As Founder of the experience design firm Local Projects, JAKE BARTON has time and again reinvented storytelling, winning every major design award with projects like the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City; Bryan Stevenson’s The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama; The Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Planet Word and Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial, both in Washington, D.C. His gift and life’s work is to use technology to create unforgettable narratives that inspire action through immersive storytelling of the most human kind. An electrifying speaker, Barton will unpack how his storytelling work changes audiences and how he is now focusing on the most formidable storytelling challenge there is—the existential problem of climate change.

Dave Barry


5:00 – 6:00 PM
Sun Valley Pavilion Lawn

Closing this year’s Conference with the 2023 SVWC Frank McCourt Memorial Lecture, DAVE BARRY, one of the funniest writers alive, will, in his own words, “talk a little about my new novel Swamp Story, but mainly to use it as a springboard to talk about Florida, because everybody seems interested in Florida these days, in the sense of wondering what the hell is going on down here. From there I’d like to branch out to the problems facing the nation in general, and what I would do to fix them if I had the authority, which we should all pray I never will. The one promise I can make is that nobody will come away from my talk with any useful information.”


  • Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning 30 minutes prior to each talk.
  • Please no high-backed chairs.
  • In the unlikely event that extreme weather necessitates a change in talk location, lawn access will not be available.