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Bestselling satirist and oscar-nominated screenwriter, to read from his new novel about sex ed in the public schools

November 29, 2007



Tom Perrotta, author of the masterpieces of satirical fiction, “Election” (1998) and “Little Children” (2004), both of which were adapted as major motion pictures, will read from his hilarious new novel about sex education in the public schools on Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. in Campus Center 375 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 the same location. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center, and are free and open to the public.

In addition to his presentations on Thursday, November 29, Tom Perrotta will offer commentary and answer questions immediately following a film screening of “Little Children” on Friday, November 30, at 7:00 p.m. [note early start time] in Page Hall on the UAlbany downtown campus. Perrotta will also hold an informal seminar on screenwriting at 4:15 p.m. on Friday in Science Library 340 on the uptown campus.


Tom Perrotta writes biting satires about suburban life and adolescent experience. His newest novel is “The Abstinence Teacher” (2007), a foray into the world of sex education and the American culture wars. Ruth Ramsey is a sex education instructor in the middle school of an affluent American community. Her unguarded answer to a question about oral sex causes a scandal at the school, arouses the ire of the Christian Right, and eventually leads to her being saddled with a new “abstinence-only” curriculum. Meanwhile, hard-line evangelical Tom Mason, the middle school soccer coach who enjoys leading his team in prayer, is running into problems of his own, including a growing attraction to Ruth, his arch-enemy.

“Kirkus Reviews” called the book, “Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly; the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author.” The novel has already been optioned for a film to be directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team behind the indie hit “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006).

Perrotta’s previous novels include “Little Children” (2004), a “New York Times” and NPR “Best Book of 2004”; “Joe College” (2000), “Election” (1998) and “The Wishbones” (1997). Perrotta is also the author of a story collection, “Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies” (1994).

The tale of a bitterly fought election for High School Class President, “Election” (1998) became a hit 1999 movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, and earned both Perrotta and co-screenwriter Jim Taylor an Oscar nomination for “Best Screenplay.” “Publishers Weekly” called the book, “A convincing portrait of a time of life, illuminating all the profound cruelty and tenderness of adolescence.”

“Little Children” (2004) follows the course of an adulterous affair between a stay-at-home mom and a stay-at-home-dad who meet on the playground of a prosperous American suburb. Writing in the “New York Times Book Review,” Will Blythe said, “What a wicked joy it is to welcome ‘Little Children,’ Tom Perrotta’s extraordinary novel...a sterling comic contribution... at once suspenseful, ruefully funny and ultimately generous...What is Tom Perrotta but an American Chekov whose characters even at their most ridiculous seem blessed and ennobled by a luminous human aura?”

Perrotta shared a second Oscar nomination with director Todd Field for their 2006 screen adaptation of “Little Children.” The film version starred Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. Writing in the “Guardian” (UK), Philip French called it, “a sharply observed and brilliantly acted study of American suburban life.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at