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Jayne Anne Phillips
Jayne Anne Phillips

Major American Fiction Writer, Author of Fiction Rooted in her West Virginia Girlhood, to open the Writers Institute’s Spring Series

NYS Writers Institute, January 27, 2009
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center


Jayne Anne Phillips,
major American novelist and short story writer, author of fiction rooted in her West Virginia girlhood,  will discuss her work on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the uptown campus. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and are free and open to the public.


Jayne Anne Phillips,
author of fiction rooted in her West Virginia girlhood, “stepped out of the ranks of her generation as one of its most gifted writers,” averred Michiko Kakutani in the “New York Times,” adding that “Her quick, piercing tales of love and loss [show] a keen love of language, and a rare talent of illuminating the secret core of ordinary lives with clearsighted unsentimentality.”

Phillips is the author most recently of “Lark and Termite” (2009), a novel about the members of a West Virginia family struggling to survive during the 1950s at the time of the Korean War. The characters include Lark, a teenage girl forced by circumstances to assume the responsibilities of womanhood, and Termite, her profoundly disabled younger brother who, despite his impairments, enjoys a vivid inner life. The novel also follows the experiences of Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, amid the carnage and turmoil on the Korean peninsula.

Lark And TermiteIn advance praise, novelist Junot Díaz called the new book,  “extraordinary… luminous… It is an astounding feat of the imagination… the best novel I've read this year.” Alice Munro said,

“This novel is cut like a diamond, with such sharp authenticity and bursts of light.” “New York Times” reviewer Michiko Kakutani called the novel “intricate” and “deeply felt” and described the characters as “so indelible, so intimately drawn, that they threaten to move in and take up permanent residence in the reader’s mind.”

Phillips’ earlier books include the short story collection “Black Tickets” (1979), and the novels “Machine Dreams” (1984), “Shelter” (1994) and “MotherKind” (2000).

Phillips’ first novel, “Machine Dreams,” tells the story of how a West Virginia family weathers the major events of the 20th century, from the Great Depression to the Vietnam War. Novelist Robert Stone said, “‘Machine Dreams’, in its wisdom and its compassionate, utterly unsentimental rendering of the American condition, will rank as one of the great books of [the] decade.”

“MotherKind” explores the spiritual education of a woman who must become the caretaker of her terminally ill mother during the early months of a young marriage and after the birth of her first child. The “Time” magazine reviewer said, “A passionate but indirect evocation of loss . . . Phillips concentrates on the day-to-day details of ordinary existence suddenly afflicted with extraordinary pressures and the conflicting tugs of joy and grief.”

Jayne Anne Phillips is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Bunting Fellowship, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and both the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Previous Visit: May 3, 2000

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