Dave Eggers was born on March 12th, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts. His family moved to Lake Forest, Illinois when he was a child. Eggers attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, until his parents' deaths in 1991 and 1992. The loss left him responsible for his eight-year-old brother and later became the inspiration for his highly acclaimed memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius". Published in 2000, the memoir was nominated for a nonfiction Pulitzer the following year. Eggers edits the popular "The Best American Nonrequired Reading" published annually. In 1998, he founded the independent publishing house, McSweeney's which publishes a variety of magazines and literary journals. Eggers has also opened several nonprofit writing centers for high school students across the United States. Eggers has written several novels and his title, A Hologram for the King, was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. His most recent work of fiction, entitled The Circle, was published in 2013.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983. He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university. He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.