Fall Series 2011


Lawrence Douglas
September 22, Thursday, 8:00 pm
Amherst Books (8 Main Street)
Lawrence Douglas is the author of two novels, The Catastrophist, which was a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and the newly released Vices, which Sabina Murray has called "a witty, provocative, and devilishly entertaining book," and Booklist has described as an “intriguing, thought-provoking exploration of a man desperately unhappy to be living his own life.” Douglas is the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College and the author of The Memory of Judgment, a study of war crimes trials, and co-author, with Alex George, of the humor book Sense and Nonsensibility.


Salvatore Scibona
October 13, Thursday, 8:00 pm
Amherst Books (8 Main Street)
Annie Dillard praised Salvatore Scibona’s first book, The End, as “a masterful novel set amid racial upheaval in 1950s America… Full of wisdom, consequence and grace, Salvatore Scibona’s radiant debut brims with the promise of a remarkable literary career, of which The End is only the beginning.” The End was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award, while Scibona himself has received numerous awards and was named to the "20 Under 40" list of writers to watch by the New Yorker.  He administers the writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  


Kay Ryan
November 2, Wednesday, 8:00 pm
Johnson Chapel
J.D. McClatchy has said about Kay Ryan, U.S. Poet Laureate (2008-2010), "Her poems are compact, exhilarating, strange affairs, like Erik Satie miniatures or Joseph Cornell boxes. She is an anomaly in today's literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoyant and rueful as Frost." Ryan has published numerous collections of poetry, including The Niagara River (2005), Say Uncle (2000), and Elephant Rocks (1996); The Best of It, an anthology of her work, won a Pulitzer Prize this year. Other awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Marin County, in California.



Jennifer Egan
November 29, Tuesday, 8:00 pm
Cole Assembly Room, aka The Red Room (Converse Hall)
Jennifer Egan's books include Look at Me, The Keep, and, most recently,A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The New York Review of Books described it as "A rich and unforgettable novel about decay and endurance, about individuals in a world as it changes around them…" and The New York Times as "A spiky, shape-shifting book… A display of Egan's extreme virtuosity." Egan was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2011, and is the recipient of many other awards and distinctions, including NEA and Guggenheim Fellowships. She lives in Brooklyn.


Sabina Murray
December 7, Wednesday, 8:00 pm
Amherst Books (8 Main Street)
“[Sabina] Murray writes stories of fierce intensity, stories that are evocative, distinct, and haunting," Claire Messud wrote in The New York Times Book Review about The Caprices, a collection that won the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award. Murray is also the author of Slow Burn, A Carnivore's Inquiry, Forgery, and, newly, Tales of the New World--a collection of short stories that charts the travels of explorers and settlers from Magellan to Jim Jones, re-imagining the pivotal and private moments of their famous expeditions. Murray, a Guggenheim Fellow among many other honors, directs the Creative Writing Program at Umass Amherst.

Spring Series 2012

Daniyal Mueenuddin
February 8th, Wednesday, 8 pm
Stirn Auditorium

For his bestselling book, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin was the 2010 winner of The Story Prize, as well as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and the LA Times Book Prize; the book has been translated into 16 languages. His National Book Award citation calls him "One of the best new story writers in America,” and The New York Times describes the book’s stories as “Intimate portraits that raise some of the biggest questions in Pakistan today.” A graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School, Mueenuddin practiced law in New York, and now lives on a farm in Pakistan’s southern Punjab.

Major Jackson
February 20th, Monday, 8 pm
Amherst Books

Poetry Daily called Major Jackson’s most recent book, Holding Company, “A devastatingly beautiful collection of strange and wonderful poems.” Jackson is the author of two other collections: Hoops, which was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literature, andLeaving Saturn, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. “Major Jackson,” writes Dorianne Laux, “makes poems that rumble and rock.” Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont, a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars, and the Poetry Editor of theHarvard Review.

David Bezmozgis
March 8th, Thursday, 8 pm
Amherst Books

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His first book,Natasha and Other Stories, was translated into 15 languages, was a New York Times Notable Book, and won the Toronto Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for First Book. Esquire called the book, “Scary good…Not a line or note in the book rings false.” In 2010, he madeNew Yorker’s “20 under 40” list. His first novel, The Free World, was published last year, and his screenplay was produced as a feature film,Victoria Day, which premiered at Sundance in 2009. Bezmozgis was born in Latvia and raised in Toronto, and is currently a fellow at the Harvard/Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Peter Gizzi
April 4th, Wednesday, 8 pm
Pruyne Lecture Hall

Peter Gizzi's books include PeriplumSome Values of Landscape and Weather, The Outernationale, and his recent Threshold Songs—poems that “reach persistently for what comes to seem like the ghost of the beauty of the world” (Poetry Foundation). He has also published several limited-edition chapbooks, folios, and artist books. His work has been translated into numerous languages and anthologized here and abroad, and Adrienne Rich has described his “disturbing lyricism…like no other—the innermost whir of the daily curtain rising on outer catastrophe.” He is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Jim Shepard
April 19th, Thursday, 8 pm
Amherst Books

The New York Times has called Jim Shepard “a fiction writer of peculiar but tantalizing gifts,” while Slate has described him as “our leading miniaturist of massive catastrophe,” with his stories about Aeschylus, Chernobyl, Joan of Arc, and everyday heartbreak. Shepard is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize, and his most recent You Think That’s Bad. His fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including in McSweeney’sThe Paris Review, and The New Yorker, and he teaches at Williams College.