|Pulitzer Prize Winning Novelist
Edward P. Jones
April 18, 2007
4:00 p.m. Informal Seminar
Heffner Alumni House, RPI
1301 Peoples Avenue, Troy NY
8:00 p.m. Reading & Ceremony
(Honoring McKinney Writing Contest Winners)
Darrin Communications Ctr 308, RPI
15th Street, Troy NY
Edward P. Jones received the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel "The Known World" (2003), a national bestseller. Set in the American South before the Civil War, it tells the morally complex tale of a free Black farming family that owns Black slaves. Hailed by critics as a new American classic, the novel also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. "TIME" magazine called it, "a masterpiece that deserves a place in the American literary canon."
Jones's will read from his newest book, "All Aunt Hagar's Children" (2006), which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, is a collection of tales about Blacks from the South who have migrated to Washington, D.C., the author's home city, in search of a better life. Jones presents an engaging variety of characters caught between the old ways of the South and the big city temptations that await them further north. Several of the stories were published previously in "The New Yorker."
"Now there can be no doubt about it: Edward P. Jones belongs in the first rank of American letters. With the publication of 'All Aunt Hagar's Children,'... Jones has established himself as one of the most important writers of his own generation." - Jonathan Yardley, "Washington Post"
"Edward P. Jones's prose is so richly textured and assured that he makes other good writers seem merely clever by comparison." - "Christian Science Monitor"
In the same way that critics and readers lauded the characters in Jones's first book, they have also been drawn to the individuals that populate The Known World. The QBRL: The Black Book Review called The Known World "complex, beautifully written, and breathtaking…the book will knock the wind out of you with the depth of its compassion" for the characters that it describes. When asked about his particularly strong female roles, Jones explained, "When you are raised by a woman who had it hard and you are sensitive to how hard a life she had, you don't necessarily look around and think of women as fragile creatures, slave or otherwise. You develop the belief that they can 'make a way out of no way.'" In addition to Caldonia, these women include Fern Elston who educates the illiterate, and Alice Night who creates art that transcends the difficult life of slavery.
Lost in the City is a collection of stories that take place in Washington D.C. and follow the lives of average people who are literally or figuratively lost. The stories take place during the 50s, 60s, and 70s and trace the struggles and difficulties of our nation's capital during that time period. Though the characters are black, Washington Post Book World reviewer Jonathan Yardley explains that "it is more accurate to say that he writes about people who happen to be black. For that reason his stories will touch chords of empathy and recognition in all readers, which is exactly what fiction is supposed to do." Critics and readers alike have "empathized" with Jones's characters and Lost in the City won the Ernest Hemingway/PEN award and was nominated for the National Book Award in 1992. The first printing of the book sold out.
Jones was born in 1950 and raised in Washington D.C. He was educated at Holy Cross College and the University of Virginia. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Essence, and Ploughshares among other publications. He was recently awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" in 2004.
Edward P. Jones was also a guest of the NYS Writers Institute on February 8, 2005.