MAJOR AMERICAN NOVELIST, TO DISCUSS NEW BOOK BASED ON THE LIFE OF FORGOTTEN AMERICAN INVENTOR, COUNT RUMFORD
NYS Writers Institute, May 6, 2008
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Science Library 340
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assmebly Hall, Campus Center
Nicholas Delbanco, major novelist, will discuss his new novel based on the life of the Colonial American inventor Count Rumford, a fascinating figure nearly forgotten by history, on Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. in Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in Science Library 340 on the uptown campus. The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.
Nicholas Delbanco, author of more than twenty books, has been called “...as fine a pure prose stylist as any writer living” (“Chicago Tribune Book World”). John Updike has said that Delbanco, “wrestles with the abundance of his gifts as a novelist the way other men wrestle with their deficiencies.”
Delbanco’s newest book is “The Count of Concord” (2008), a fictionalized biography of the real-life Count Rumford, born Benjamin Thompson in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1753. A boy genius and inventor, Rumford declared himself a British loyalist during the American Revolution, fled the newborn United States, and eventually became a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. A pioneer of the science of thermodynamics, Rumford invented, among other things, more efficient fireplaces, ovens, roasters and coffee pots. Now nearly forgotten, Rumford has been ranked by his admirers with such better known figures of American history as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin Delano Roosevelt included Rumford on a list of history’s “five most interesting people.”
Andrea Barrett praised Delbanco’s novel saying, “. . . this brilliantly written novel—by turns wrenching, antic, and deep—marvelously illuminates a complicated scientist’s life and times.” The “Library Journal” reviewer said, “Delbanco writes beautifully.... he skillfully depicts the count’s loneliness and deteriorating mind as he catalogs his contributions to humanity, justifies his transgressions, and lashes out at his second wife. Highly recommended....”
Delbanco’s previous novels include “Spring and Fall” (2006), “The Vagabonds” (2004), “What Remains” (2000), “The Sherbrooke Trilogy” (1977-1980), and “The Martlet’s Tale” (1966). The story of two college lovers reunited by accident four decades later on a cruise vacation, “Spring and Fall” (2006) juxtaposes the infatuations of youth with the pleasures of mature love. Writing in the “Washington Post,” Susan Coll said, “Delbanco’s wise and poignant take on these matters of the heart is sure to have broad resonance....” “What Remains” (2000) tells the story of three generations of a German-Jewish family displaced by the Holocaust. Writing in the “Washington Post,” Neil Gordon said, “Delbanco’s musical and wise novel—a tapestry of memory, missing art, love and a lifelong awareness of vulnerability—is as fine as will be found anywhere.”
Delbanco’s recent nonfiction includes “Anywhere Out of the World: Essays on Travel, Writing, and Death” (2005) and “The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction by Imitation” (2004).
A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Delbanco served as director of the creative writing program at the University of Michigan for nearly 20 years. On the occasion of his retirement in 2002, Stephen Kinzer of the “New York Times” noted that Delbanco “has had more than 1,000 students and through them has helped shape modern American literature.”