James Lasdun

James Ladun - Spring 2016


Search The New York State Writers Institute:




Community Writers Workshop

Reaching out - Spring 2016
Each semester the Writers Institute sponsors residencies of varying lengths by authors who have distinguished themselves both for their writing and their teaching. In tandem with these residencies free writing workshops are offered on a competitive basis to members of the community.

Fiction Writing Workshop Offered by
Writers Institute Fellow James Lasdun

New York State Writers Institute Fellow James Lasdun will conduct a writing workshop in spring 2016 for writers interested in all aspects of fiction. The focus will be on detailed discussion of students’ work but there will also be readings from published novels, novellas, and short stories. These will range from the classic to the contemporary, and will be selected with a view to broadening the discussion of topics such as character, plot, style, and form, as they arise. Participants will be expected to be strongly self-motivated and to submit two works of up to twenty pages each over the course of the semester. These may be short stories or excerpts from longer works.

The workshop is scheduled for eight Thursday nights (March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12) from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, individual student conferences will be scheduled. The workshop will take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus and is offered for non-credit, free of charge for non-University students. Enrollment will be limited to ten to twelve students. To be considered, submit manuscripts to the Writers Institute according to the guidelines listed below. Students who participated in a Lasdun workshop during spring 2015 are not eligible to apply. Due to the volume of manuscripts received from previous workshops, we must insist that you follow the guidelines exactly.

Guidelines for Fiction Master Class Workshop

  1. All manuscripts must be typewritten and double-spaced.

  2. All submissions must include a separate cover sheet with name, home address, work/home/cell telephone numbers, and e-mail address.

  3. Submit 5–20 pages of fiction writing—a short story, part of a short story, or part of a novel. Include a brief statement (50–100 words) describing your interest in fiction writing and what you hope to learn by participating in this workshop. To insure a blind selection process, do not put your name on any of these pages.

  4. Be sure to keep a copy of your work as your manuscript will not be returned to you.

  5. Manuscripts delivered in person will be accepted up until 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, 2016. Mailed manuscripts must be postmarked no later than Monday, February 29, 2016. No faxes or e-mails.

  6. Notification of acceptance will be by Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Please do not call regarding the status of your manuscript. We regret that neither Mr. Lasdun nor the Institute can comment on manuscripts by writers not selected.

    Mail manuscripts to: Lasdun Fiction Fiction Writing Workshop
    New York State Writers Institute
    , University at Albany, SL 320
    1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY  12222

James Lasdun
James Lasdun is a fiction and nonfiction writer, poet, and screenwriter. Born and raised in England, he has received awards and critical praise for his work on both sides of the Atlantic. Literary critic James Wood has said, “James Lasdun seems to me to be one of the secret gardens of English writing . . . When we read him we know what language is for.”

Lasdun’s newest publication is Bluestone: New and Selected Poems (2015). J. D. McClatchy described the poems as “…heady with astonishing details and exhilarating language, yet in the core of each is a steel rod of precision and moral depth. … Here is the rare book—essential on every shelf, in every soul.”

Lasdun’s first novel, The Horned Man (2002), was a New York Times Notable Book and an Economist Best Book of the Year. Comic and terrifying at once, the novel tells the story of a professor persecuted by a secret enemy—or perhaps by his own paranoid delusions. The London Sunday Times called it an “enormously inventive, superbly written novel [that] puts more seasoned authors in the shade.” The Washington Post called it, “unputdownable… a masterpiece of chilling mesmerizing control.”

A political thriller, Lasdun’s second novel, Seven Lies (2005), tells the tale of a former East German who, by a series of blackly comic maneuvers, attempts to invent a perfect life for himself in the United States. The Guardian reviewer called it, “a marvel—exciting, atmospheric and the best summation to date of what it felt like to grow up on the other side of the wall.” It was long-listed for the Man-Booker Prize.

Lasdun’s most recent story collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt (2009), was listed by The Atlantic Monthly as one of its top five books of 2009. In sharply evoked settings that range from the wilds of Northern Greece to the beaches of Cape Cod, these intensely dramatic tales chart the metamorphoses of their characters as they fall prey to the full range of human passions. One of the stories, “An Anxious Man,” was the inaugural winner of the United Kingdom National Short Story Prize in 2006.

The nonfiction book, Give Me Everything You Have (2013), is an account of Lasdun’s experience of being cyberstalked. In a starred review Publishers Weekly said “This subtle, compassionate take on the subject is rife with insights into the current cyberculture’s cult of anonymity, as well as the power, failure, and magic of writing.”

Lasdun first came to public attention with the publication of his story collection Delirium Eclipse and Other Stories (1986), winner of the Dylan Thomas Award. The Washington Post Book World called Lasdun’s stories “the most auspicious first collection of stories to come out of England” since the mid-1970s. Lasdun is also the author of Besieged: Selected Stories (1999). The title story provided the basis of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1998 film, Besieged.

Landscape with Chainsaw, Lasdun’s 2001 poetry collection, was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the LA Times Book Prize. It was described by The New Yorker as “An extraordinary deconstruction and reconstruction of landscapes, both natural and interior.”

Lasdun is also the author of two travel guides with his wife, Pia Davis, Walking and Eating in Provence (2008) and Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria (1997).

Lasdun’s screenwriting credits also deserve mention. With director Jonathan Nossiter, he shared the Screenwriting Award for Sunday at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival (Sunday also received the Grand Jury Prize). Again with director Jonathan Nossiter, Lasdun co-wrote the screenplay of Signs and Wonders (2002), a psychological thriller starring Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgaard.

A Writing Fellow at the New York State Writers Institute, Lasdun has taught at a number of American universities, including the University at Albany, Columbia, Princeton, and The New School.

UAlbany logo


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