Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky

Past Event: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

Literary Arts Icon

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.

By Car

  • 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 I-5 via Westbound I-90
    Take the 2C exit for I-5 North. Follow signs for Madison Street/Convention Place and merge right onto Seventh Avenue. Turn left onto Madison Street. Proceed three blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue four 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.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)
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 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.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. This option is present at every event at Benaroya Hall in our 2019/20 Season. For digital streams of online events, all pre-recorded and live online events will have either open or closed captioning.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Benaroya Hall has an infrared hearing system, which transmits sound by light beams. Headsets are available in The Boeing Company Gallery coat check and the Head Usher stations in both lobbies.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Sign Language Interpretation” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process and we will contact you to confirm details. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Among other features, Benaroya Hall has designated parking spaces adjacent to elevators in their parking garage. Elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. To reserve seating for a specific mobility concern, you may select “Wheelchair Accessible or Alternative Seating Options” during ticket checkout, and we will contact you to confirm details. For more details on their accessibility features, click here.

Guide and service dogs are welcome.

Gender neutral restrooms are available.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive. Our Patron Services Manager is available at, or Monday-Friday from 10:00am – 5:00pm at 206.621.2230×10.

For more accessibility information, please head to If you would like to make accessibility arrangements you do not see listed here, please contact our box office or select “Other Accommodations” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process, and we will contact you to confirm details.