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NYS Writers Institute, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
4:15 p.m. Seminar | University Hall Room 110, Collins Circle, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center,
Downtown Albany

Diane Ackerman will read from and discuss her 2007 bestseller The Zookeeper’s Wife, in anticipation of the soon-to-be-released major motion picture based on her book, at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7 in the Clark Auditorium, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day, at 4:15 p.m. Ackerman will hold a seminar in University Hall Room 110, adjacent to Collins Circle, on the UAlbany Uptown Campus.  Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and cosponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library.


Diane Ackerman,
naturalist and bestselling writer of both prose and poetry, is the author of the nonfiction bestseller The Zookeeper’s Wife (2007), which was adapted for film by Focus Features and is scheduled for release on March 31st. The book and film tell the little known true story of a Warsaw zookeeper’s family that saved 300 Jews during the Holocaust.  Donna Seaman of the LA Times explained the significance of the book saying “history is a loosely knotted net, through which many lives and stories are lost. Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, saved the lives of more than 300 imperiled Jews, but the zookeeper and his wife fell through gaps in the chronicles of Nazi-besieged Poland. They are now reclaimed by poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman in “The Zookeeper's Wife,” a stunning tale of war and sanctuary.”  Susie Linfield of The Washington Post credited Ackerman’s skill in untangling “a true story — of human empathy and its opposite — that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful,” adding that “Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully.”

The film is directed by Niki Caro and stars two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh. In advanced praise, Zack Sharf of IndieWire said that “while many of our World War II films take us to the front of the battlefield or into the horror of the Holocaust, THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE promises a more inspirational tale of courage and bravery.”

Ackerman was recently honored as recipient of the National Outdoor Book Award and PEN’s Henry Thoreau Prize for The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us (2015).  She is also author of the 2011 Pulitzer finalist memoir One Hundred Names for Love.  Her career has spanned decades, transcended genres, and is best described in her own words as told to January Magazine, where she says:  “I write about nature and human nature. And most often about that twilight zone where the two meet and have something they can teach each other.”  Rob Nixon of the New York Times calls Ackerman “one of our most adventurous, charismatic and engrossing public science writers” with “a rare versatility, a contagious curiosity and a gift for painting quick, memorable tableaus drawn from research across a panoply of disciplines.”

In The Human Age, Ackerman offers what Barbara J. King of The Washington Post calls “a cross-cultural tour of human ingenuity.”  In similar praise, Kirkus Review credits Ackerman for producing an “absorbing commentary on both the positive and negative effects of human consumption and innovation on the Earth.” 

Ackerman’s One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing was a 2011 finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in memoir.  Booklist called it “A gorgeously engrossing, affecting, sweetly funny, and mind-opening love story of crisis, determination, creativity, and repair.”  Emine Saner of The Guardian, credits the book for allowing an intimate glimpse into a “relationship…steeped in language – he was the brilliant academic, she the poet” and an honest account of recovery from a stroke that “left Paul West able to utter only a single syllable and his wife…to find a new way to keep their love alive.”

Ackerman’s other books include An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain (2004), A Natural History of Love (1994), The Moon by Whale Light (1991), and A Natural History of the Senses (1990), among many others.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst