Events are free and open to the public and take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, unless otherwise noted.

Books are available in advance of events and at the events, from the following bookstores:
The University Bookstore at the University at Albany and The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Luminous Airplanes Crazy Brave In the Plex Blood of the Sun

Alison Lurie
Photo: Cornell University
Media Collection

Maire Howe

Photo: Brad Fowler

Alison Lurie, New York State Author 2012-2014 and Marie Howe, New York State Poet 2012-2014

September 20 (Thursday)
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Alison Lurie
is celebrated for witty novels that examine middle class American life, particularly in small college towns inspired by Ithaca, New York. For her nuanced understanding and lifelike portrayal of social customs and relationships between the sexes, Lurie is widely regarded as the Jane Austen of contemporary American letters. Over the course of ten novels and half a century she has held a mirror up to people of her own generation as they navigate romance, marriage, parenthood, divorce, reconciliation, and advancing age. Her major novels include Truth and Consequences (2005), Foreign Affairs (1984), which received the Pulitzer Prize, The War Between the Tates (1974), and Love and Friendship (1962).

Marie Howe’s prize-winning poetry seeks answers to perplexing questions about life and death in ordinary moments and day-to-day experiences. As a teacher and poet, she searches for meaning and redemption in suffering and loss. She helped many come to terms with grief during the AIDS epidemic by writing compassionately about the loss of her brother to that disease, and by encouraging those impacted by AIDS to find their voices and be published. Her poetry collections include The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008), What the Living Do (1997), and The Good Thief (1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the National Poetry Series. She also has received the Lavan Younger Poets Prize of the American Academy of Poets.

Paul La Farge
Photo: Carol Shadford


Paul La Farge, novelist, essayist, and short story writer
September 27 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Paul La Farge
is the author of a much-talked-about new work of fiction and electronic media, Luminous Airplanes (2012), the story of a young man who returns to his family home in the Catskills after his grandfather’s death in order to purge the house of “five generations of junk.” This highly original work is published both as a conventional print novel and as an ever-expanding, electronic “immersive text.” Bestselling humorist Gary Shteyngart calls it, “one of the best works of fiction to come my way in a long time…. a quiet triumph of a book.” La Farge’s earlier novels include Haussmann, or the Distinction (2001), and The Artist of the Missing (1999).

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Center for Jewish Studies

Salgado Maranhao

Alexis Levitin

Salgado Maranhão, Brazilian poet, lyricist, and composer, and Alexis Levitin, translator
October 2 (Tuesday)
Reading — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

A native of Brazil’s dry, impoverished northeast, Salgado Maranhão is a leading contemporary Afro-Brazilian poet, as well as a songwriter for some of Brazil’s most prominent musicians. The son of a black fieldworker (mother) and a member of the white plantocracy (father), Maranhão describes himself as “born both to slavery and the manor house.” He received Brazil’s highest literary award, the Brazilian Academy of Letters Prize, for his collection, The Color of the Word (2011).

Alexis Levitin, Professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, has published more than twenty-five books of translation from Portuguese. His translations have appeared in Partisan Review, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, and hundreds of other literary journals. His translation of Maranhão’s first collection in English, Blood of the Sun, appears in September 2012. Eminent translator of Latin American fiction Gregory Rabassa called it, “a perfect English rendering of Salgado Maranhão’s deft expression of the tonality of this people and land.”

Junot Diaz
Photo: Nina Subin

Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer
October 4 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

A major voice of Latino literature, Junot Díaz is the author of the new short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her (2012), an exploration of love, passion, and heartbreak. Publishers Weekly said, “Raw and honest, these stories pulsate with raspy ghetto hip-hop and the subtler yet more vital echo of the human heart.” Díaz received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), the story of a self-described “ghetto nerd,” growing up in a Dominican-American enclave in New Jersey. Oscar Wao achieved international acclaim and has become a standard text in university literature courses nationwide. Lev Grossman of Time called it, “Astoundingly great.... an immigrant-family saga for people who don’t read immigrant-family sagas.”

James Mann
Photo: Caroline Dexter

James Mann, journalist and nonfiction writer
October 9 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Born and raised in Albany, NY, journalist James Mann is a sought-after authority on the behind-the-scenes deliberations over foreign policy within recent American presidential administrations. His newest book is The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power (2012), an insider’s guide to the events, ideas, personalities, and conflicts that have defined Barack Obama’s foreign policy. In a New York Times review Michiko Kakutani said, “Drawing upon some 125 interviews…Mr. Mann writes with shrewdness and insight about the evolution of the president’s thinking, tensions among his staff…and contrasts and continuities between his conduct of foreign policy and that of the previous two presidents.” Mann achieved international renown with Rise of the Vulcans (2004), a revelatory and much-cited study of George W. Bush’s war cabinet. A former Beijing Bureau Chief for the L. A. Times, Mann is also the author of three award-winning books on America’s evolving relationship with China.

Dorothy Driver

Dorothy Driver, African literature scholar
October 11 (Thursday)
"The Work of Dreaming: Race, Feminism, and New South African Nationhood” — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Dorothy Driver, “The Work of Dreaming: Race, Feminism, and New South African Nationhood.”
 This lecture will examine literary texts as sites of dreaming in which unrealized visions of social harmony and individual autonomy—primarily in women’s writing—serve as antidotes to the historical forces that have produced South Africa’s nexus of race-class-gender oppressions.  In considering the work of Olive Schreiner, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, and Zoë Wicomb, Prof. Driver will examine how South African feminist thinking sometimes reproduces a Western feminism but sometimes also inscribes into the South African imaginary new forms of social interaction, thereby opening a route into Julia Kristeva’s revolutionary ‘women’s time’. Dreaming and writing thus become a powerful basis for change.

An eminent scholar of South African literature before and after Apartheid, Dorothy Driver holds a professorship at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and has taught at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Stanford University.The editor of books on Nadine Gordimer and Pauline Smith, Driver also served as a co-editor of the historical anthology Women Writing Africa: The Southern Region (2003), and co-editor for many years of the Southern African Review of Books.

J. M. Coetzee


Paul Auster
Photo: Lotte Hansen


J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, and Paul Auster, novelist
October 12 (Friday)
Seminar on the short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville— 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Conversation — 8:00 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

In the afternoon seminar, J. M. Coetzee and Paul Auster will discuss Herman Melville’s classic tale of a 19th century office worker who refuses to conform to the demands of corporate culture in the financial district of lower Manhattan. To read “Bartleby, the Scrivener” in advance of the seminar click here.

At the evening event, Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J. M. Coetzee, and major American novelist Paul Auster will talk about their friendship and their soon-to-be-published body of letters to each other. The correspondence began in 2008 when Auster proposed an ongoing dialogue on any subject — “Let’s strike sparks off each other.” A collaborative meditation on a myriad of topics, the letters will be published as Here and Now in 2013. Coetzee, the first to win the Booker Prize twice, is the author of a number of novels regarded as classics of contemporary world literature, including Summertime (2009), Slow Man (2005), Elizabeth Costello (2003), Disgrace (1999), The Master of Petersburg (1994), Life & Times of Michael K (1983), and Waiting for the Barbarians (1980).

Paul Auster is known for his dark, intellectual, bestselling novels, including Sunset Park (2010), Oracle Nights (2003), The Book of Illusions (2002), The Music of Chance (1990), and The New York Trilogy (1987). His most recent book is Winter Journal (2012), a reflection on life and death and the events that shook and shaped him.

Cosponsored by UAlbany Departments of Africana Studies; English; History; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Philosophy; Political Science; Women’s Studies; Institute for Research on Women; College of Arts & Sciences; Honors College; Rockefeller College; Offices of the Provost, and Vice President for Research; Alumni Association; and Student Association

Ghassan Zaqtan

Ghassan Zaqtan, Palestinian poet, with Fady Joudah, Palestinian-American poet and translator
October 16 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
Reading — 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time], Campus Center Room 375, 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). A past participant in numerous panels and colloquia with leading Israeli writers on peaceful coexistence and mutual concerns, Zaqtan is also the co-founder and director of the House of Poetry in Ramallah and is currently the Director General of the Literature and Publishing Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture.

Note: This event has been rescheduled from April 10, 2012.

David Quammen
Photo:Lynn Donaldson
David Quammen, nature writer and author
October 18 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

David Quammenis one of America’s leading nature writers. His new book is Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012), about his travels in the remote corners of the globe with field researchers investigating disease outbreaks in rats, monkeys, bats, pigs, and other species, with the potential to “spillover” to humans. Walter Isaacson described the book as “a frightening and fascinating masterpiece of science reporting that reads like a detective story.” A widely-travelled contributing writer for National Geographic, and the author of the column, “Natural Acts,” for Outside magazine for 15 years, Quammen has written several nonfiction bestsellers, including The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (2006), Monster of God (2003), The Boilerplate Rhino (2001), and The Song of the Dodo (1996).

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s School of Public Health

Giannina Braschi

Magdalena Gomez

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes

Jesus Papoleto Melendez
Photo: George Malave

Edwin Torres

Performing Voices of the Puerto Rican Diaspora
October 26 (Friday)
Conversations with Diasporican Writers — 2:15 – 3:45 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Moderator: Tomás Urayoán Noel, University at Albany
Guest Writers: Magdalena Gómez, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Edwin Torres

Diasporican Café: Performing Voices of the Puerto Rican Diaspora — 5:30 – 7:45 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Guest Writers: Giannina Braschi, Magdalena Gómez, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Edwin Torres

Five internationally known U.S. Puerto Rican writer-performers will discuss their work in an afternoon panel discussion and present readings/performances in the evening. Both events are part of the 20th Anniversary Conference of the Puerto Rican Studies Association, which is being held at UAlbany October 24 – 27. For more information on the Conference go to: http://www.puertoricanstudies.org.

Giannina Braschi
is the author of the collection of poetry and fiction El imperio de los sueños (1988; Empire of Dreams, 1994) and the novels Yo-Yo Boing (1998) and United States of Banana (2011).

Magdalena Gómez, poet, playwright, and actor, is the co-founder and artistic director of Teatro V!da, a performing arts collective that explores multicultural and multigenerational issues.

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes is a poet, fiction writer, playwright, and performer. His publications include the story collection Uñas pintadas de azul (2009, Blue Fingernails), and the play Escándalo! (2003).

Jesús Papoleto Meléndez is one of the founders of New York’s Nuyorican Poets Café. An award-winning poet, his forthcoming book Hey Yo/Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry, is the first volume of his collected work.

Edwin Torres is known internationally for his experimentalist performance poetry that incorporates sound, visual theatre, and audience participation. He is the author of the poetry collection In the Function of External Circumstances (2010).

Sponsored by the Center for Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies; the Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latino Studies; and the College of Arts and Sciences at UAlbany

Joy Harjo
Photo: Karen Kuetin


Joy Harjo, Native American poet and musician
November 1 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Joy Harjo
is an award-winning poet and musician of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. The author of seven collections of poetry, she was praised by the late Adrienne Rich for her “breathtaking complex witness and world-remaking language.” Her poetry collections include How We Became Human (2002), The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received the American Book Award and the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. Her new book is the memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), about her journey from a troubled childhood and teenage motherhood to her accomplishments in the arts.

Cosponsored by SUNY Press in conjunction with the annual John G. Neihardt Lecture

Bill Lyons

American Place Theatre performance of The Things They Carried
November 7 (Wednesday)
Pre-Performance discussion at 7 p.m.
Performance — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

$15 general public / $12 seniors & faculty-staff / $10 students Box Office: (518) 442-3997

Tim O’Brien’s masterwork of contemporary literature about the Vietnam War is taken from book to stage by American Place Theatre, the award-winning New York City based company. The verbatim adaptation of this compassionate tale of the American soldier includes five of the short stories from the book including “The Rainy River” and “The Man I Killed.” With original cello music as underscoring, the audience plays witness to the complex issues of war and the universal struggle of the soldier.

Presented by the Performing Arts Center as part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Support also provided by University Auxiliary Services and Holiday Inn Express.

This performance is part of The Big Read program led by the Albany City School District through the Albany Fund for Education and the Albany Public Library. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest.

Denis Johnson
Photo: Cindy Lee Johnson
Denis Johnson, playwright, poet, and fiction writer

November 12 (Monday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Staged Reading — 7:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Center

The Writers Institute and Fence magazine will present a staged reading of Denis Johnson’s new play “Des Moines,” followed by commentary and Q&A with the playwright. Set in a seedy apartment on the edge of Des Moines, Iowa, the play features an unlikely assortment of people who come together for an impromptu party that takes them on a dam-bursting ride down a stream-of-consciousness deluge. Johnson received the National Book Award for his 2007 novel, Tree of Smoke, about the experiences of a CIA agent based in Vietnam. His 1992 collection of interconnected short stories, Jesus’ Son, about a young man addicted to heroin, was adapted as a same-titled movie which was named a “Top Ten” film of 1999 by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. His 2011 novella Train Dreams was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.
David Blight David W. Blight, historian, scholar, and author
November 15 (Thursday)
Presentation — 7:30 p.m., Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

The featured speaker for the 2012 Researching New York Conference, David W. Blight will present a lecture, “America Divided, Then and Now: The Civil War in our National and Local Imagination.” One of the foremost authorities on the U.S. Civil War, Blight is Professor of American History and Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition at Yale University. He has authored numerous works including, most recently, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (2011) and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001).

Sponsored by UAlbany’s Department of History, the NYS Archives Partnership Trust, the NYS Museum, and the NYS Writers Institute. For additional information on all Researching New York conference events go to: http://nystatehistory.org/researchny
Steven Levy
Photo: Wired Magazine

Steven Levy, technology writer
November 16 (Friday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Steven Levy, “America’s premier technology journalist” (Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Washington Post), is the author most recently of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (2011). Writing in the New York Review of Books, James Gleick called it, “the most authoritative [history of Google] to date and in many ways the most entertaining.” Levy achieved international renown for his now-classic 1984 book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, which was republished in a 25th Anniversary edition in 2009, and which PC Magazine, in a recent issue, named the “Best Sci-Tech Book of the last 20 years.” Currently a Senior Writer for Wired, Levy formerly served as Senior Editor and Chief Technology Correspondent for Newsweek.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s College of Computing and Information

Trita Parsi Trita Parsi, international affairs scholar and author
November 19 (Monday)
Talk/Discussion — 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Trita Parsi, scholar and advocate of diplomatic approaches to conflicts in the Middle East, will deliver a talk entitled “U.S. and Iran: Between War and Diplomacy.” His most recent book is Single Roll of the Dice—Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (2012). In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it, “A must-read for all those interested in the relationship between Washington and Tehran.” Jon Stewart of The Daily Show said, “You gotta get this…. it’s an amazing perspective on all the elements that go into even the smallest of diplomatic deals.” Born in Iran to a Zoroastrian family that fled the Islamic regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, Parsi is also the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (2007). Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami called it, “A brilliant interpretation of one of today’s most enigmatic conflicts.”

Cosponsored by Women Against War and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and UUP Peace and Justice Committee

J. Hoberman

J. Hoberman, film critic
December 7 (Friday)
Reading/Discussion — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

J. Hoberman, one of the most influential American film critics of recent decades, is admired for his wit, intellectual energy and incomparable knowledge of experimental, international, independent, and Hollywood cinema. His new book is Film After Film (2012), which argues among other things that the future of film is animation and digital-image-making, ending “the need for an actual world, let alone a camera.” Senior film critic at the Village Voice from 1988 to 2012, Hoberman started with the paper in the 1970s as a third stringer under critic Andrew Sarris. Jessica Winter of Time magazine praised his work as “elegant, erudite, ambitious, and wondrously droll arts and media criticism,” and credited him for teaching her generation of critics “how to think and write about popular culture.” A portion of the Writers Institute’s fall 2012 Classic Film Series is based on Hoberman’s list of his favorite 21st century films
(see Classic Film Series Listing).

Science Library, SL 320 | University at Albany, NY 12222 | Phone 518-442-5620 | Fax 518-442-5621 |
email: writers@albany.edu