NYS Writers Institute, October 23, 2003
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Two rising contemporary authors, Jennifer Egan and Adam Johnson, will read and discuss their work in a joint reading. Both have been recognized in the American press for their imaginative boldness, elegant writing and believable characters. Though Johnson's work is typically set in the near-future, and Egan's in the recent past or present, both excel at depicting the fragility of human beings, modern society and civilization itself.
Jennifer Egan's most recent novel is Look at Me (2001, Anchor Books), a National Book Award Finalist, is the story of a New York fashion model whose face is destroyed in a car accident. Charlotte Swenson undergoes reconstructive surgery and, sporting a new unrecognizable face, embarks on a search for a former boyfriend who appears to have numerous secret identities.
Look at Me received unusual publicity in the media because it appeared to predict the tragic events of 9/11 and, coincidentally, was released the very same week as the terror attacks. The mysterious boyfriend, who is sometimes identified simply as "Z," may well be an Arab militant and a member of a terror cell that quietly conceals itself in American society until the time is ripe for an attack on New York City.
"Brilliantly unnerving…. A haunting, sharp, splendidly articulate novel." - New York Times
"Comic, richly imagined and stunningly written…. An energetic, unorthodox, quintessentially American vision of America." - New Yorker
Egan's first novel, The Invisible Circus (1995) was hailed as a remarkable debut. The novel tells the story of Phoebe O'Connor whose sister, Faith, a wild child of the 1960s, died mysteriously in Europe. Phoebe retraces her sister's itinerary through England, Holland, France and Germany in the hope of discovering the truth about her death. The Invisible Circus was made into a movie starring Cameron Diaz.
"Brilliant in its authenticity and overwhelming passion." - Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Boston Globe Book Review
Egan is also the author of a story collection, Emerald City and Other Stories (1996). Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Zoetrope, Harper's, GQ, Mademoiselle, and other major publications.
Adam Johnson's debut novel is Parasites Like Us (August 2003), the story of a good-natured anthropologist who is accidentally responsible for unleashing a deadly plague from a 12,000 year old grave.
Johnson's first book was the story collection, Emporium (2002), which was named one of the best books of that year by the San Francisco Chronicle. The stories take place in a dysfunctional future world, and most feature adolescents who long for love and connection. Teen Sniper stars an expert marksman, age 15, who is employed by the Los Angeles Police Department to hunt and kill renegade employees of Silicon Valley software companies. Trauma Plate tells the story of a heartsick teenage girl who runs a bulletproof-vest rental shop in a deserted strip mall. Several of the stories appeared previously in such magazines as Esquire, the Paris Review, and Harper's.
"a collection worth owning… a writer worth watching… stories worth reading." - New York Times Book Review on Emporium
Adam Johnson received a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University where he now teaches. Prior to that, he studied creative writing with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
"[Johnson is] the most exciting young writer I've ever read" . . . "Once you enter an Adam Johnson story, you believe everything, no matter how strange things get." - Robert Olen Butler
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.