Go to New York State Writers Institute
Inaugural UAlbany Reading Project
Featured AuthorTracy Kidder

March 23, 2006
2:00 p.m. Q&A on Mountains Beyond Mountains
Ballroom, Campus Center

7:30 p.m. Reading/Discussion
Ballroom, Campus Center
UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Mounts Beyond Mountains

Tracy Kidder is widely regarded by readers, writers, teachers, and critics as one of the living masters of the nonfiction form. Kidder's books, is the featured author in the University at Albany's inaugural "Reading Project." The Project's purpose is to engage the entire university community all students, faculty and staff in reading and reflecting on a common text. This undertaking is designed to bring the campus community together for reflection, analysis, and debate.

The featured book for the "Reading Project" is Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World" (2003), a biography of the infectious disease specialist, anthropologist, Harvard professor, medical reformer, gadfly, saint, and modern-day Robin Hood, who is best-known for founding a charity hospital in rural Haiti. In the book, Kidder recounts the six years he spent as Farmer's "travelling companion," documenting the doctor's journeys from Boston to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia, as Farmer attempts to marshal financial support, political will, and medical resources in an attempt to "cure the world."

This interdisciplinary work offers abundant opportunities for discussion from multiple perspectives--public health, epidemiology, anthropology, language and cultural studies, foreign policy, economics, medicine, and ethics.

"A masterpiece. . .Kidder will take you so deep into their journeys that you can almost feel the oppressive Haitian heat." - "USA Today"

"unfolds with the force of gathering revelation. Like all of Tracy Kidder's books, it is as hard to put down as any good and true story." - author Annie Dillard

Kidder received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his second book, "The Soul of a New Machine" (1981, updated and reissued 1997), a brilliant, pioneering study of a new "computer culture" that had just begun to emerge in the late 1970s. Widely regarded as a classic of the popular science genre, the book details the 18-month effort of a team of computer geeks at Data General Corporation to develop a new miniature super-computer. As recently as 1999, in a broad assessment of books for the general reader about the high-tech industry, the "Washington Post" asserted, "'The Soul of a New Machine,' written two decades ago about a computer company that is currently being merged out of existence, is still the high-tech story to beat."

Among Schoolchildren

Two of Kidder's books have been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award: "Among Schoolchildren" (1989), about the experiences of a fifth grade teacher, and "House" (1985), a story of one couple's adventures and misadventures building a first family home. More recent bestsellers have included "Home Town" (1999), a close study of everyday life and local history in Northampton, Massachusetts, and "Old Friends" (1993), about a year in the life of a nursing home.

[Kidder's books are] "full of the author's genuine love, delight and celebration of the human condition." - Phyllis Theroux, "New York Times," on "Among Schoolchildren"

"Kidder has mastered the art of being a fly on the wall-a generous-hearted fly, that is, and skilled in describing what he sees." - Adam Woog, "Seattle Times" on "Home Town"

"a masterpiece. . .Kidder will take you so deep into their journeys that you can almost feel the oppressive Haitian heat." -"USA Today"

Since his first article appeared in "The Atlantic" in July 1973, Tracy Kidder has written on railroads, energy, architecture, the environment, and more. He has been a contributing editor of "The Atlantic" since 1981.

Tracy Kidder was a panelist at the Writers Institute for the Telling the Truth Symposium in 1991 and was a previous guest on October 12, 2004.

Gazette Article
Sunday Times Union Article
The BookShow Transcript