NYS Writers Institute spring 2012

lauren groffThe spring lineup for the New York State Writers Institute visiting writers series is out -- and as we've come to expect, it's full of events that look interesting.

And handful of the dates that caught our eye: science writer Alan Lightman, physicist Michio Kaku, director and author John Sayles (who's originally from Schenectady, you know), author Shalom Auslander, journalist Masha Gessen, novelist (and Cooperstown native) Lauren Groff (that's her on the right), and editor Joe Lelyveld.

Here's the full lineup...

All blurbage via the NYS Writers Institute

February 2 (Thursday): Alan Lightman, novelist and science writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Alan Lightman, theoretical physicist and bestselling author, is renowned for accessible works of fiction and nonfiction that explain the "grand ideas" of physics. His most recent book is Mr. g: A Novel About the Creation (2012), which Publishers Weekly called, "a touching, imaginative rendition of God's creation of the Universe."

February 10 (Friday): Teju Cole, novelist and street photographer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Teju Cole is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Open City (2011), the story of a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist who wanders the streets of Manhattan exploring the city's landscapes, people, and his own feelings of isolation. The New York Times named it a "2011 Notable Book" and described it as "an indelible novel [that] does precisely what literature should do: it brings together thoughts and beliefs, and blurs borders...A compassionate and masterly work."

February 14 (Tuesday): Adam Johnson, novelist
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Adam Johnson is the author most recently of The Orphan Master's Son (2012), a novel set in North Korea that brings to life its prison camps, orphanages, economic misery, routine corruption, and palaces of the bureaucratic elite. Johnson's award-winning fiction includes the story collection, Emporium (2002), and the novel, Parasites Like Us (2003).

February 21 (Tuesday): Michio Kaku, physicist and author
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Ballroom, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Michio Kaku, cutting-edge theoretical physicist, cofounder of "string field theory," bestselling writer and influential futurist, is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (2011). Of particular interest to Capital Region audiences, Kaku devotes a large portion of the book to anticipated developments in the field of nanotechnology.

February 27 (Monday): The Burian Lecture presented by John Sayles, filmmaker and novelist
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown campus
Reading and The Burian Lecture - 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

John Sayles, Schenectady native, award-winning director and screenwriter, and one of America's most influential independent filmmakers, is the author of a new novel, A Moment in the Sun (2011) -- a vast and brilliant American epic. Sayles's previous novel, Union Dues (2005), was a finalist for the National Book Award. His twenty award-winning films as writer and director include SILVER CITY (2004), MEN WITH GUNS (1997), LONE STAR (1996), EIGHT MEN OUT (1988), MATEWAN (1987), and RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN (1979). Cosponsored by UAlbany's Theatre Department and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment

March 1 (Thursday): Shalom Auslander, fiction writer and memoirist
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Shalom Auslander, ex-Orthodox Jew, humorist, cultural renegade, and contributor to NPR's This American Life, received both notoriety and praise for his story collection, Beware of God (2005), and the memoir, Foreskin's Lament (2007). Hope: A Tragedy (2012), his first novel, tells the story of a troubled man who discovers - living in the attic of his upstate New York home - a decrepit old woman who claims to be Anne Frank.

March 8 (Thursday): Masha Gessen, Russian-American journalist
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Masha Gessen, Moscow-based journalist, is the author of the new book, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). Drawing on previously untapped sources, she presents a portrait of a ruthless politician underestimated by friends and enemies alike. The author of six previous books on Russia, Gessen has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, New Republic, Granta, and Slate, among other publications.

March 20 (Tuesday): Margot Livesey, fiction writer, and Jo Page, fiction and nonfiction writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 7:30 p.m., Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY

Margot Livesey, celebrated Scottish-born fiction writer, is the author most recently of The Flight of Gemma Hardy (2012), a modern-day retelling of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Livesey's earlier books include The House on Fortune Street (2008), winner of the PEN New England Award; Banishing Verona (2004); and Eva Moves the Furniture (2001), a finalist for the PEN New England Award. Jo Page has published fiction and nonfiction in Quarterly West, New Millennium Writings, The South Carolina Review, and other print and online journals. She was a finalist for the 2009 Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction prize. Page received her MFA from the University of Virginia and has written a memoir, Going Out, and a novel, Weddings at Lakeview.

March 22 (Thursday): John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Huxley Theatre, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, is the author of the new book, The Lives of Margaret Fuller (2012), a portrait of the fiery 19th century social critic who was the most famous American woman of her time. Matteson received the Pulitzer Prize for his previous book, Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (2007). Cosponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library

March 26 (Monday): Robert Nickas, art critic and curator
Reading - 7:00 p.m., University Art Museum, Fine Arts Building, Uptown Campus
Robert Nickas is a prolific curator of contemporary art, a critic celebrated for his bold, independent and dissenting views on art, and a central figure of the New York City art world for more than a quarter century. He is the author of Painting Abstraction (2009), the first definitive survey of the new wave of innovation in abstract painting, and Catalog of the Exhibition (2011), a retrospective of his exhibitions from 1985 to 2011. Cosponsored by the University Art Museum

March 27 (Tuesday): Lauren Groff, novelist and short story writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Lauren Groff's first novel was the surprise bestseller, The Monsters of Templeton (2008), the story of a graduate student of archaeology who digs up dark secrets in Templeton, a stand-in for her hometown - Cooperstown, New York. Groff's new novel is Arcadia (2012), the story of an upstate New York Utopian community that falls apart. In advance praise, novelist Richard Russo said, "Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I've read in a long time. It is not possible to write any better without showing off."

April 3 (Tuesday): Joseph Lelyveld, journalist, nonfiction author, and editor
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Joseph Lelyveld, journalist and nonfiction author, worked at the New York Times from 1962 through 2001 serving as foreign correspondent in the Congo, South Africa, India, and Pakistan, then as London bureau chief, foreign editor, managing editor, and finally executive editor. Lelyveld's most recent book is Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India (2011). Lelyveld won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his nonfiction book Move Your Shadow: South Africa Black and White based on his reporting tours in that country.

April 10 (Tuesday): Ghassan Zaqtan, Palestinian poet, with Fady Joudah, poet and translator
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Ghassan Zaqtan, poet, novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and playwright, is a major Palestinian poet and a leading representative of the avant-garde in Arabic literature. His most recent collection - the first to appear in English - is Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012), which was translated by Fady Joudah, a Palestinian-American poet and winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition for his own collection, The Earth in the Attic (2008). Zaqtan is currently the Director General of the Literature and Publishing Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture. Cosponsored by International Poets in Conversation, part of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute's Consortium Tour

April 18 (Wednesday): Anne Enright, Irish fiction writer
Reading and McKinney Award Ceremony - 8:00 p.m., Biotech Auditorium, Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Building, Rensselaer, (RPI), Troy, NY
Anne Enright, award-winning Irish fiction writer, is the author most recently of the novel The Forgotten Waltz (2011), a story of desire, the sudden drama of everyday life, and the volatile connection between people. Enright's international bestseller The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize.

Cosponsored in conjunction with Rensselaer's 71st McKinney Writing Contest and Reading

April 18 (Wednesday): American Place Theatre Performance of The Kite Runner
Performance - 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m.

$15 general public / $12 faculty-staff & seniors / $10 students Box Office: (518) 442-3997
The "Literature to Life" program of American Place Theatre presents a one-man theatrical adaptation of the first half of Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel, The Kite Runner (2003). It portrays the doomed relationship between two boys growing up in Afghanistan-one a privileged Pashtun, the other a Hazara servant-in a society of severe class division and political turmoil. Presented by the Performing Arts Center in conjunction with the New York State Writers Institute.

photo: Sarah McKune via Lauren Groff's website


Its a shame the seminars aren't later in the day, because it looks like an interesting line up.

Also check out the classic film series. This spring's series is unusual in that there are 5 silent films scheduled. (There usually is just one.) I wonder if this is riding the wave of the highly acclaimed new "silent" film "The Artist."

Anne Enright is the standout as far as I am concerned. She is a major talent and an interesting and fluent speaker (not a characteristic of all authors, IMHO).

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