This fall, actors Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale will bring to Broadway The Lifespan of a Fact, the 2012 book that grew out of a correspondence between fact-checker Jim Fingal (played by Radcliffe) and writer John D’Agata ’95 (played by Cannavale).
A professor of English and director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, D’Agata is the author of About a Mountain, which was named by the New York Times as one of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books Ever Written. The Lifespan of a Fact, which the New York Times describes as a “debate over the nature of truth and the meaning of accuracy,” developed out of a years-long editorial back-and-forth between D’Agata and Fingal over an essay published by The Believer in 2010 and included in About a Mountain.
Performances begin Thursday, Sept. 20, with the opening on Thursday, Oct. 18 at Studio 54 on Broadway.
D’Agata’s first collection of lyric essays, Halls of Fame, was published by Graywolf Press and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, the Howard Foundation and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. He is the editor of A New History of the Essay, a groundbreaking three-volume series from Graywolf that includes The Next American Essay (2003), The Lost Origins of the Essay (2009) and The Making of the American Essay (March 2016).
A summa cum laude Hobart graduate, D’Agata was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He later completed an M.F.A. in both poetry and nonfiction at the Iowa Writers Workshop, but says, “The Colleges are where I first learned how to write, and where I was first encouraged as a creative thinker to imagine a place for myself in the literary world. It was a tremendous gift to have such an experience.”
In 2006, he joined the faculty at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, the top-ranked program in the country, which D’Agata now directs. At Iowa, he teaches courses on the history of the essay, experiments in essaying, and a variety of workshops.
During the 2017-18 academic year, D’Agata served as Trias Writer-in Residence at HWS.