February 2, 2021

NYU School of Professional Studies Media Talk, “A Bestseller Like No Other: Inside the Publication of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett,” Will Take Place Virtually on February 18

Moderated by Pamela Paul, Editor of The New York Times Book Review, the Discussion Will Focus on the Book’s Incredible Success as Well as the Strategies Behind It

NEW YORK, February 2, 2021—The NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) Center for Publishing will present its next Media Talk, “A Bestseller Like No Other: Inside the Publication of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett,” in a virtual format on Thursday, February 18, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., EST. The panel presentation will take an in-depth and inside look at how a multigenerational story about race, family, and the quest for a new identity, captured the imagination of audiences and rose to the top of bestseller lists nationwide.

Author Brit Bennett will speak about the inspiration behind the novel, which was published by Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House. Sarah McGrath, SVP and editor-in-chief, and Ashley Sutton, director of marketing for the company, will join the discussion to describe the strategies behind the book’s success on the publishing side. This fascinating case study on the making of a bestseller will be moderated by Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review and of all book coverage at the newspaper.

Tickets are $15 - Register here.


  • Pamela Paul (Moderator), Editor, The New York Times Book Review. Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review and of all book coverage at the newspaper. She is the author of six books, and the editor of an anthology, By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life. Paul also is the host of The Book Review podcast, the longest-running podcast at The Times. Her next book, Rectangle Time, a picture book for children, will be published this month.
  • Brit Bennett, Author, The Vanishing Half and The Mothers. Bennett, who was born and raised in Southern California, graduated from Stanford University. She later earned an MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction. In 2014, she received the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree. Her debut novel, The Mothers, was a bestseller and her second novel, The Vanishing Half, was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.
  • Sarah McGrath, Editor-in-Chief, Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House. McGrath is senior vice president and editor-in-chief at Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Random House, which she joined in 2006 after getting her start first at Knopf and then Scribner. Over her nearly 25-year career, she has launched the careers of some of the most important and beloved fiction writers working today. In addition to Brit Bennett, among the other prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling writers she works with are Elizabeth Gilbert, Lauren Groff, Paula Hawkins, Khaled Hosseini, Chang-rae Lee, Sigrid Nunez, Emma Straub, Gabriel Tallent, and Meg Wolitzer.
  • Ashley Sutton, Marketing Director, Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House. Sutton began her career in marketing with Avon Products and then moved on to Mattel at Fisher-Price. She later worked in experiential, consumer, and digital marketing in Entertainment One’s family division. Sutton joined the Penguin Random House family in October 2019. She is a mentor and has acted as a national judge for the NAACP Act-So organization, where she helps high school students engage in entrepreneurship, STEM, and the arts.  

If you are a member of the media and would like to attend the event, please contact Alka Gupta at aag13@nyu.edu or Michael DeMeo at michael.demeo@nyu.edu.

About the NYUSPS Media Talk Series
The NYU SPS Media Talk Series presents public conversations with media leaders about trends and important publishing topics from an industry insider’s viewpoint. The June 2020 session featured Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic, and Monica Drake, assistant managing editor of The New York Times, in a conversation about how legacy brands have evolved into multiplatform storytellers. The February 2020 session, “Passionate Readers, Powerful Publishing: Reaching Niche Audiences in New Ways,” featured bestselling authors Sarah MacLean, Tochi Onyebuchi, Veronica Roth, and Karin Slaughter. Two Media Talk events took place in 2019. The February 2019 Media Talk, titled “From Book to Screen to Stage: New Audiences for Bestselling Fiction,” featured Harlen Coben, Val Emmich, and Adriana Trigiani; and the June 2019 Media Talk, “Book Lovers on the Internet: Connecting with Readers in Digital Ways,” included Cristina Arreola, senior books editor at Bustle, Jane K. Lee of Epic Reads, and authors Emma Straub and Jess Zimmerman. Other NYU Media Talks have featured bestselling authors such as David Baldacci, Alice Hoffman, Jeff Kinney, Erik Larson, Lauren Oliver, Jodi Picoult, and Colson Whitehead.

About the NYUSPS Center for Publishing: Digital and Print Media
The NYUSPS Center for Publishing: Digital and Print Media offers a range of innovative programs in publishing and digital media, including the MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media, a 42-credit graduate program that prepares students for careers in books, digital and magazine media; the Summer Publishing Institute (SPI), a six-week intensive for recent college graduates, rising college seniors, and young professionals who are interested in entry-level careers in media; and executive education programs, both in New York and abroad. For more information about the Center for Publishing, visit sps.nyu.edu/publishing.

The NYU School of Professional Studies – Celebrating More Than 85 Years of Excellence in Applied Professional Education
For over 85 years, the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) has been a deeply respected institution of higher education that is grounded in applied learning. From its early years, training returning World War II veterans to fulfill the nation’s urgent need for skilled technical workers, it has evolved into a professional education powerhouse that offers 20 graduate degrees, 13 bachelor’s degrees for traditional and post-traditional students, four associate’s degrees, and a plethora of non-degree courses and credentials.

NYU SPS is a thought leader, and serves as an incubator for new ideas in industries that are constantly changing, including real estate, real estate development, and construction management; hospitality, tourism, travel, and event management; global affairs and global security, conflict, and cybercrime; global sport and sports business; publishing; marketing; public relations; project management; executive coaching and organizational consulting, human resource management and development, and human capital analytics and technology; management and systems; translation; and professional writing. It is focused on building skills that open doors to opportunities in emerging fields and global markets. NYU SPS faculty members are leading experts in their areas of discipline, with a hands-on approach that encourages students to push beyond their limits and to break new ground.

Home to some of the largest and most prestigious industry conferences in the world, including the Schack Institute of Real Estate’s Capital Markets Conference, REIT Symposium, and National Symposium of Women in Real Estate; and the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality’s International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, the School’s invaluable connections to industry leaders is a truly distinguishing factor in the education that it provides. Through career development services and resources provided by the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development at NYU SPS, guest lecturers, site visits, participation in numerous conferences and events, and Global Field Intensives, students benefit from an NYU education that will set them apart. In addition, they have the opportunity to learn from and network with more than 30,000 NYU SPS alumni who live, work, and contribute to innovation in industry around the world. To learn more about NYU SPS visit: sps.nyu.edu.

PR Office Contacts

Michael DeMeo

Alka Gupta