Daniel Barban Levin presents "Slonim Woods 9," with Rebecca Sacks

September 14, 2021, 7:30 PM

Daniel Barban Levin joins us to present his new memoir Slonim Woods 9, in conversation with Rebecca Sacks. This program will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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In 2019, a New York magazine cover story, “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” exposed a conman’s crimes to the world. With Slonim Woods 9, Barban Levin provides a heartbreaking and powerful story of those stolen years, beginning the moment he set foot on Sarah Lawrence’s idyllic campus, spanning the two years he spent in the grip of a cruel megalomaniac, and culminating in the moment he found the strength to walk away and begin to heal.

In the fall of 2010, a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College asked her roommates if her father, recently released from prison, could stay with them while he figured out his next steps. While this was a little strange, no one objected, and shortly after, Larry Ray moved into their communal house, known as Slonim Woods 9. The first few days of his stay seemed innocuous, as Ray shared stories from his life over elaborate home-cooked meals he prepared for his daughter and her friends; but then Ray began to offer the roommates counseling sessions, convincing them that he alone could truly understand their struggles and how he would help them “achieve clarity.” Ray stayed at Slonim Woods for the entire school year where, day-by-day, his manipulative grasp tightened. And when summer came and the roommates needed a place to go, Ray invited them into a Manhattan apartment, where the abuse escalated to horrific new heights. In February 2020, Ray was indicted on charges of extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor, and money laundering. He is currently awaiting trial.

Daniel Barban Levin was one of the original roommates brought under Larry’s sway, and his memoir is vivid and unflinching in the details of Ray’s manipulation and psychological torture, delving deep into the horrifying toll this experience took on him and Ray’s other young victims. His poetic prose draws heavily from the writing he did during that time, which tethered him to sanity and to himself, even in the darkest throes of trauma.

Daniel Barban Levin holds an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine, where he taught creative writing and rhetoric, and a bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College. He is the winner of the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Poetry, the Lynn Garnier Memorial Award and is the recipient of fellowships from The Frost Place, Tent, The Sarah Lawrence Summer Seminar for Writers, and The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Provincetown Arts, Bat City Review, The Sarah Lawrence Review, The Westchester Review, The Offbeat, The Fourth River, and The Bennington Review. He lives in Los Angeles.

Rebecca Sacks (she/they) is a graduate of the Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. She has been awarded grants, prizes, and fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Mellon-Sawyer Documenting War Seminar Series. A graduate of Dartmouth College, they worked for several years at Vanity Fair before moving to Tel Aviv to pursue an M.A. in Jewish studies. City of a Thousand Gates (HarperCollins, 2021) is her first novel. They live in Los Angeles.