Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky

Past Event: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Ms. Paretsky’s talk is entitled “Looking for Heroes in All the Right Places.”  She’ll discuss the heroic in literature, a bit about her own history and how that shaped the kind of heroes she needs, and where her own detective, V.I. Warshawski, fits in the pantheon of heroes—mostly by virtue of a strong voice rather than street-fighting skills.

Sara Paretsky transformed the genre of mystery fiction in her 1982 novel, Indemnity Only, with the introduction of private investigator V.I. Warshawski. Challenging the conventions of a genre in which women were assigned the roles of vamps or victims, the character of V.I. Warshawski debuted a tough-minded and intelligent female detective who drinks Johnny Walker Black Label, carries a semiautomatic pistol, and loves classical music. Eleven other Warshawski novels followed, all of which were national bestsellers. Paretsky established herself as an author who breaks down barriers for both women crime-writers and their heroines. She has written a memoir, Writing in an Age of Silence, two novels, Ghost Country and Bleeding Kansas, and edited three collections of short stories. Her books have been published in twenty-four languages.

While a student at the University of Kansas, Sara Paretsky went to Chicago to work as a community organizer on the South Side (under the direction of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) when the race riots of 1966 occurred. This experience sparked Paretsky’s life-long commitment to social justice, freedom of speech, and civil rights. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times’ op-ed page, and a speaker at the Library of Congress, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago. In Writing in an Age of Silence, Paretsky tells the story of her life. She traces her development as an artist and advocate in the civil rights and feminist movements in the 1960s, as well as her social responsibility as a writer, exploring the meaning of this responsibility in contrast with what she saw as unparalleled repression of thought and free speech in the U.S. during the last decade.

Besides transcending boundaries in her work, Paretsky has helped open doors for other women writers in the field. Her role in founding Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports women mystery writers, led Ms. magazine to name her Woman of the Year in 1988. The British Crime Writers Association awarded her the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. Paretsky has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and a visiting professor at Northwestern University, as well as the recipient of three honorary doctorates.

Born in Ames, Iowa, and raised in Kansas, Paretsky attended a two-room country school in Douglas County and went on to study at the University of Kansas, graduating with a degree in political science. She received both a doctorate in history and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. She currently lives with her husband on Chicago’s South Side.

Selected Work
Women On the Case: 26 Original Stories From the Best Women Writers of Our Time (1996)
Ghost Country (1998)
Sisters On the Case: Celebrating Twenty Years of Sisters in Crime (2007)
Bleeding Kansas (2008)
V.I.x3 (2009)
Writing in an Age of Silence (2009)

V.I. Warshawski Novels
Indemnity Only (1982)
Blood Shot (1988)
Burn Marks (1991)
Deadlock (1992)
Guardian Angel (1993)
Tunnel Vision (1995)
Hard Time (2000)
Total Recall (2002)
Blacklist (2003)
Killing Orders (2005)
Fire Sale (2006)
Hardball (2009)

Sara Paretsky’s Website
Interview with Linda Richards (January Magazine, November 2001)
Notable Crime Books of 2009, Sara Paretsky’s Hardball reviewed (New York Times, December 2006)
Truth, Lies, and Duct Tape: Essay by Sara Paretsky

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


SAL is for everyone. We want all audience members to be able to experience our lectures and readings regardless of accessibility concerns. Accessibility services at our venues are provided at no cost to ticket holders. If you find you need to sit closer to the stage to accommodate your needs but find the cost of a Patron ticket prohibitive, then please contact us—we will seat you where you need to be, regardless of cost.

Open Captioning occurs at every event that takes place at Benaroya Hall. It is also always available upon request for all events in our other halls, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for Open Captioning services, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Assisted Listening Devices, including Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems, are available at all of our venues, with the exception of Broadway Performance Hall. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

ASL-Interpretated Events are always available upon request, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Wheelchair Accessible Ticketing is available in all sections at our venues, and and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

For any further questions or requests, or to offer Seattle Arts & Lectures feedback on how we can be more accessible and inclusive, please reach out to our Patron Services Manager at or 206.621.2230×10.