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Kaye Gibbons

December 8, 1998 (Tuesday) at 8:00 p.m.
Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
University at Albany, Uptown Campus

4:00 p.m. Afternoon Seminar, Recital Hall

Kaye Gibbons is known primarily for her novels about self-reliant women in the rural south. Her first novel, Ellen Foster (1987), a semi-autobiographical account of an 11 year old girl raised by relatives after her mother's suicide, was characterized by the London Sunday Times as "fresh, instant and enchanting. . .a first novel that does not put a foot wrong in its sureness of style, tone and characterization." The novel won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Her second novel, A Virtuous Woman (1989) which earned her an NEA fellowship, also received high praise in the United States and abroad. The San Francisco Chronicle called the book "a perfect little gem." Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman were recent selections of Oprah's Book Club.

Gibbons's third novel, A Cure for Dreams (1991), received the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Heartland award for fiction and the PEN Revson Award for the best work of fiction published by a writer under 35. It tells the story of three generations of women in Kentucky and North Carolina, and their problems with remote and abusive men. The San Francisco Review of Books called it, "a celebration of the spoken word, of family history verbally constructed and passed on. Gibbons creates from the very start a sense of both languor and immediacy." Both her fourth book, Charms for the Easy Life (1993), and fifth book, Sights Unseen (1995), were best-sellers. In 1996 Gibbons became the youngest writer ever to receive the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, recognizing her contribution to French literature. Her latest book On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon was published in the summer of 1998.

Kaye Gibbons grew up in Nash County, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

". . .a haunting story that begs to be read in one sitting."
- Publishers Weekly on Sights Unseen

"A terrific book. . .The story of a redoubtable girl who overcomes adversity with humor, spunk, and determination."
- Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World on Ellen Foster

"A small masterpiece. . .Explores the depth and breath of love with compassion and without sentimentality."
- San Francisco Chronicle on A Virtuous Woman

"A Virtuous Woman dares to do the ordinary thing, to transfigure the commonplace into a plain language that speaks with as much complexity as the rococo might, but with more appropriateness." - Roz Kavaney, The Times Literary Supplement

"Among Ms. Gibbons's triumphs in the novel is her ability to disappear into her narrator so completely that the story seems to come straight from Ellen's mouth without authorial intervention." - Stephen McCauley, The New York Times Book Review on Ellen Foster

"Full of unforgettable scenes and observations, characters drawn surely and sharply, and writing that is both lyrical lightning-keen, this is a novel of vision and grace. It shines." - Josephine Humpreys, Los Angeles Times Book Review on A Cure for Dreams