Fall Series 2007
Mark Costello (’84)
September 19 Wednesday 8:00 pm Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115)
The co-author, with David Foster Wallace, of Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present, Mark Costello wrote his first novel, Bag Men, under the pseudonym John Flood while working as a federal prosecutor. But he was nominated as himself for a National Book Award for Big If, his story about a Secret Service agent, politics, and paranoia. Writing for The New York Times, Jay McInerney called the book, “a dazzling performance,” and concluded, “With this second novel, Costello enters the big leagues of American Fiction.”
September 26 Wednesday 8:00 pm Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115)
Reviewing While I Was Gone, William H. Pritchard praised both the “patient, unfancy, locally rooted narration that has been Miller's trademark” and the bestselling novelist’s “commitment to rendering the weave and texture—above all, the tonality—of the everyday.” Miller’s forthcoming The Senator’s Wife offers another rich portrait of private lives, as complicatedly unremarkable as those in her previous nine books of fiction, which include the iconic The Good Mother and Inventing the Abbotts.
October 17 Wednesday 8:00 pm Amherst Books
In a starred review, Kirkus called South African poet Yvette Chritiansë’s novel Unconfessed “A gorgeous, devastating song of freedom that will inevitably be compared to Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” The book was a finalist for the 2007 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a distinguished first book of fiction, and Caroline Leavitt described it as “stunningly intimate, heart-wrenching history of slave life in Africa.” Christiansë is Associate Professor of literature and postcolonial studies at Fordham University.
October 25 Thursday 8:00 pm Amherst Books
Reviewing Twilight of the Superheroes for The New York Times, Ben Marcus wrote, “[T]here aren’t many contemporary novels as shudderingly intimate and mordantly funny as Eisenberg’s best stories,” and called her “one of the most important fiction writers now at work.” From a group of friends whose luck in acquiring a Manhattan sublet turns to disaster as their balcony becomes a front-row seat to the catastrophe of 9/11, to the too-painful love of a brother for his schizophrenic sister, Eisenberg brilliantly “illustrates the lives of people rubbed raw by what the fates have sent them” (Vanity Fair).
November 1 Thursday 6:00 pm Johnson Chapel
Pulitzer Prize winner and United States Poet Laureate (2003-4) Louise Glück is the author of numerous books of poetry. Her tenth, Averno, was nominated for a National Book Award, and according to The New York Times, demonstrates that “she is writing at the peak of her powers.” The New Yorker wrote: “The poems brilliantly display a poet’s insight, a mother’s warmth, and a mortal’s empathy. There is wry humor, too, and, amid much that is dark, there are fragments of hope.” Glück’s reading will be preceded by a talk by scholar and critic Willard Spiegelman, editor-in-chief of The Southwest Review, at 4:00 pm in the Cole Assembly Room. Co-sponsored by the Department of English.
Nalini Jones (’93) and Shauna Seliy
November 14 Wednesday 8:00 pm Amherst Books
A reading from two debut works of fiction: Jones’ What You Call Winter, a collection of inter-connected stories set in a Catholic suburb of Mumbai, which Brad Leithauser has praised for “the familiar virtues for which we keep returning to short stories: empathy, breadth, the joys in paced concealment and revelation”; and Seliy’s When We Get There, an elegiac coming-of-age novel set in the Pennsylvania coal country of the seventies, which Alexander Chee has called, “an exhilarating first novel about what is love and what is not love […] [W]ith it, Seliy shows herself to be one of our country's best new writers.”
Spring Series 2008
February 28th, Thursday, 8:00 pm Amherst Books
Writing for The New York Observer, Adam Begley called Emily Barton "A copiouslytalented, daring writer,” and Thomas Pynchon has described her work as"blessedly post-ironic, engaging and heartfelt." Her novelBrookland imagines an 18th-century gin distillerwho dreams of a bridge that might connect her Brooklyn to Manhattan.
The New York Timescalled Brookland “[m]arvelous,” and named it a 2006 Notable Book. Barton hasreceived numerous fellowships and awards, and currently serves as distinguishedvisiting writer at Bard College.
March 6th, Thursday, 8:00 pm Pruyne Lecture Hall,Fayerweather
Adam Haslett is the author of the short story collection YouAre Not a Stranger Here, which was afinalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. TheNew Yorker has described Haslett as “aneloquent, precise miniaturist,” and his collection as “a fascinating snapshotof life during the era of Prozac, when new ways of thinking about emotion haveforced us to adjust our notion of identity and even, perhaps, of grace.”Winner of the 2006PEN/Malamud Award for accomplishment in short fiction, Haslett currently livesin New York City, where he is working on a novel.
March 13th, Thursday, 8:00 pm Amherst Books
Victoria Redel is the award-winning author of two books ofpoetry and three books of fiction. Grace Paley said ofRedel’s story collection Where the RoadBottoms Out, “Only a poet could have written this prose. Only astoryteller could keep a reader turning these pages so greedily.” Redel’s mostrecent novel, The Border of Truth,follows the daughter of a Holocaust survivor as she uncovers the secrets of herfamily's history, and Publishers Weekly called it “a welcome and fresh perspective on the well-trod subject ofthe Holocaust.”
March 27th, Thursday, 8:00 pm Amherst Books
Stephanie Grant’s first novel, The Passion of Alice, was nominated for Britain’s Orange Prize for WomenWriters and the Lambda Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. Her new novel, Mapof Ireland, is a contemporary retelling ofHuck Finn that Publisher’s Weeklydescribes as “funny and startlingly frank”: “Grant expertly captures theconfusion, angst, and insightfulness of a teenager dealing with race and sexualrelations in a turbulent era.” Formerly Writer-in-Residence at Mount HolyokeCollege, Grant is currently Visiting Writer at the Franklin HumanitiesInstitute at Duke University.
April 10th, Thursday, 8:00 pm Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather
The poet Alan Williamson has said, "Stephen Yensercombines two qualities rarely found together: an extraordinary gift for verbalplay and a bedrock seriousness about the emotional aims of poetry.” Yenser iscelebrated as both a poet and a critic, and is the author of two volumes ofpoetry, The Fire in All Things, whichwon a Walt Whitman Award, and the recent collection Blue Guide. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships,Yenser is a professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at theUniversity of California in Los Angeles.
April22nd, Tuesday, 8:00 pm, Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather
Michael Ryan putit this way: “That Gabriel Fried has the talent, skill, intelligence, andwisdom to have an exceptional future as a poet is unquestionable, but thisfirst book of his already represents a mature accomplishment of the art."And Richard Howard praised this same collection, the irony-free dream-filled,daily-life-filled Makingthe New Lamb Take,saying “even the rawest intuitions, the rarest vulnerabilities are protected bythis poet's caretaking spirit." Fried lives in New York City, where heedits the poetry series at Persea Books.