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Events are free and open to the public and take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, unless otherwise noted.

Books are available in advance of events and at the events, from the following bookstores:
Barnes & Noble College Bookstore and The Bookhouse of Stuyvesant Plaza

Jayne Anne Phillips

Jayne Anne Phillips
January 27 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Jayne Anne Phillips, author of fiction rooted in her West Virginia girlhood, has been called one of the most gifted writers of her generation (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). 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 an intricate inner life. In advance praise, novelist Junot Díaz called it, “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.” Phillips’ earlier books include MotherKind (2000), Shelter (1994), Machine Dreams (1984), and Black Tickets (1979).

Sue Miller

Sue Miller
February 2 (Monday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Bestselling fiction writer Sue Miller's latest book is The Senator’s Wife (2008), which explores the private troubles of a political marriage between a hero of progressive causes (and serial philanderer) and his shy, retiring wife. The New York Times reviewer said, “Miller plays her hand in a masterly fashion.” Miller first commanded national attention with the publication of her 1986 novel, The Good Mother, about a single mother threatened suddenly with losing custody of her child. The book was inspired in part by Miller’s own challenges as a single parent. Works by Miller that have been adapted for film or television include While I Was Gone (1999), Family Pictures (1990), and The Good Mother (1988), starring Diane Keaton.

Bernadine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo
February 5 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Bernardine Evaristo, prize-winning Anglo-Nigerian poet and novelist, is celebrated for imaginative, humorous, and occasionally ribald explorations of the cultural intercourse between African and Western civilizations. Her newest book is Blonde Roots (2009), a perceptive, unflinching, and often brutal counter-historical novel that poses the question, “What if black Africans had enslaved white Europeans?” In a starred review Publishers Weekly said, “British novelist Evaristo delivers an astonishing, uncomfortable and beautiful alternative history … [her] intellectually rigorous narrative constantly surprises …” Evaristo’s earlier works include two novels in verse: Lara (1997), which traces the roots of a mixed race family over 150 years, and The Emperor’s Babe (2001), the story of a Sudanese girl living in London during Roman times.

Frank Delaney

Frank Delaney
February 11 (Wednesday)
Reading — 5:30 p.m., New York State Museum, Carole Huxley Auditorium, Albany

Frank Delaney, veteran Irish radio and television broadcaster, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Ireland: A Novel (2005), a fictionalized retelling of the myths and historical traditions of his native land. Publishers Weekly said, “A sprawling, riveting read, the stories utterly captivate ... in this rich and satisfying book.” Set in the 1920s, Delaney’s newest book is Shannon (2009), the story of a troubled American priest who returns to the Ireland of his ancestors to heal his wounded spirit, only to be caught up in a bloody civil war. His earlier books include the novel Tipperary (2007), the true life sea saga, Simple Courage (2006), which was selected as one of the American Library Association Books of the Year, and the bestselling nonfiction book, James Joyce’s Odyssey: A Guide to the Dublin of Ulysses (1981).
Cosponsored by Friends of the New York State Library

John Kelly

John Kelly
February 26 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

John Kelly, is the author of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time (2005), a history for the general reader. Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes called it, “Powerful, rich, moving, humane, and full of important lessons…” Bestselling author Simon Winchester said, “There has never been a better researched, better written, or more engaging account of the worst epidemic the world has known….” Kelly is the author of more than ten books on science, including Three on the Edge (1999), three riveting stories of families coping with clinical drug trials. He is at work on the forthcoming The Graves Were Walking (2009) about the Irish Famine.
Presented in association with the academic conference “Rhetorics of Plague: Early/Modern Trajectories of Biohazard,” sponsored by the University at Albany Department of English and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Annette Gordon-Reed


Annette Gordon-Reed
March 4 (Wednesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus

Annette Gordon-Reed
has been called, “one of the most astute, insightful, and forthright historians of this generation” (Edmund Morgan, New York Review of Books). A Professor of History at Rutgers and Professor of Law at New York Law School, Gordon-Reed is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello, winner of the 2008 National Book Award. The book tells the stories of multiple generations of Thomas Jefferson’s secret slave family. Her earlier works include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997), which historian and critic Jill Lepore called, “[A] tour de force. . . . a devastating brief on standards of evidence in historical research.”

Rodrigo Toscano

Rodrigo Toscano
March 10 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading/Performance — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Rodrigo Toscano’s Collapsible Poetics Theater is one of five winners of the 2007 National Poetry Series (NPS). The first of this series to be published by Fence Books, it is a genre-expanding force to be reckoned with: a set of polyvocal pieces meant to be read on stage by multiple players. NPS competition judge Marjorie Welish said, “The art of play has found a very talented proponent. Part carnivalesque rap, part sleight-of-hand hustle, Collapsible Poetics Theater maneuvers its way through public language of several sorts to give theater a Realpolitik poetic voice....” Toscano’s earlier collections include To Leveling Swerve (2005), Platform (2003), The Disparities (2002) and the book-length poem Partisans (1999), a widely admired treatise-in-verse on the relationship between labor and language.

Stacey D'Erasmo

Ira Sher

Stacey D'Erasmo and Ira Sher
March 12 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Stacey D'Erasmo, widely-praised novelist and past editor of the Voice Literary Supplement, explores the complexities of love, conflict, and identity among gay characters and within gay families. Her newest novel, inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, is The Sky Below (2009), the story of a troubled New York City artist, Gabriel, and his daily creative struggles. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the book, “A luminous novel crafted in meticulous detail with shimmering language.” D’Erasmo’s other novels include A Seahorse Year (2004) and the New York Times Notable Book, Tea (2000).

Ira Sher is the author of the new novel, Singer (2009), the tale of a travelling sewing machine salesman implicated in a series of motel fires. The Publishers Weekly reviewer said, “In this gorgeously written yet elusive book, sophomore novelist Sher chronicles a surreal road trip and uses the Singer Sewing Company as a metaphor for the erosion of America.” Sher’s first novel was Gentlemen of Space (2004), the story of a boy whose father is chosen to be the first civilian on the moon. His short fiction has been featured on the public radio program, “This American Life.”

Etgar Keret

Etgar Keret
March 16 (Monday)
Seminar and Reading — 4:00 p.m., Campus Center 375
JELLYFISH film screening and commentary — 6:45 p.m., Spectrum Theatre, 290 Delaware Avenue, Albany
(Spectrum tickets: $8.50 general public; $6.75 UAlbany faculty/students)

Etgar Keret, Israeli author of short fiction, graphic novels, and screenplays, is the leading literary figure and cultural spokesperson for younger Israelis. Best-known for highly compressed, comic, absurdist short stories that avoid explicit political commentary, Keret nonetheless insists that all of his work is ideological. Writing in Tikkun, Michael Lukas said, “In short, uncanny, and often hilarious bursts, Etgar Keret taps into the profound existential absurdity of being Israeli.” The People magazine reviewer said Keret “can do more with six strange and funny paragraphs than most writers can with 600 pages.” Keret’s work in English translation includes Missing Kissinger (2007), The Nimrod Flipout (2006), Jetlag: Five Graphic Novellas (2006), and Gaza Blues (with Samir El-Youssef, 2004).

Etgar Keret codirected the film JELLYFISH with his wife Shira Geffen. Winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes, the film is the magical tale of three women whose lives are changed after a mysterious little girl washes up on a Tel Aviv beach.
Sponsored by the University at Albany’s Judaic Studies Department

Elaine Showalter


Elaine Showalter
March 26 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Campus Center 375
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Campus Center 375

Elaine Showalter, critic, feminist, and leading scholar of women’s literature, is celebrated for her witty analysis of English and American literary and popular culture. She is the author most recently of A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (2009). Hailed as a landmark in its field, the book represents the first comprehensive history of American women writers from the 17th to 21st centuries. In advance praise, Joyce Carol Oates called it, “a work of astonishing vision, breadth, intelligence, and audacity…. one that is sure to be required reading for all who have an interest in American literary history.” Showalter’s earlier works include Faculty Towers: The Academic Novel and Its Discontents (2005), Inventing Herself (2001); Hystories (1997); The Female Malady (1985); and the groundbreaking, A Literature of Their Own (1978).

Habib Tengour

Habib Tengour
March 31 (Tuesday)
Reading — 4:15 p.m., Science Library 340

Habib Tengour is a leading poet and ethnologist of the North African Maghreb region. Born in Algeria, Tengour grew up in a working class household in France. His work draws upon many sources in Algerian culture, including history, mythology, religion, popular culture, traditional music, and the experience of exile. UAlbany English Professor, translator of Tengour, and 2005 winner of the PEN Poetry in Translation prize Pierre Joris has called Tengour, “one of the Maghreb’s most forceful and visionary poetic voices of the post-colonial era.” Tengour’s works available in English translation include the poetry collection Empedokles’s Sandal (1999), and the narrative poem “The Old Man of the Mountain,” contained in the collection 4X1 (2003).

The Secret Life Of Bees American Place Theatre Performance of "The Secret Life of Bees"
April 2 (Thursday)
Live Performance — 7:30 p.m.
[NOTE EARLY START TIME], Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

$15 general public; $12 seniors & faculty/staff; $10 students, Box Office: (518) 442-3997; [email protected]

The Secret Life of Bees is a new adaptation for the stage that is based on Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling novel of the same name. Set during the Civil Rights movement, a young girl’s search for the truth about her mother leads her to three beekeeping sisters and the discovery of the real meaning of family. The play was adapted and directed by Wynn Handman, and Denise Wilbanks plays 14-year old Lila Owen. It is a production of American Place Theatre’s “Literature to Life” series, a literacy program that presents professionally staged adaptations of American literary works.
Sponsored by UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center

Peter Carey

Peter Carey
April 7 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:00 p.m., Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy
Reading and McKinney Award Ceremony — 8:00 p.m., Darrin Communication Center 308, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy

Peter Carey, author of outrageous and imaginative historical fiction, has been called “Australia’s finest fiction writer.” Over a career spanning twelve novels that have invited comparisons to the work of Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, Carey has received numerous major awards, including the Booker Prize (twice), and the Commonwealth Prize (twice). His newest novel is His Illegal Self (2008). Set in the 1970s, it follows the adventures of seven-year-old Che Selkirk, the child of on-the-run Weather Underground-style hippies, who is whisked away from his Manhattan grandmother to live in the Australian outback. The Boston Globe called it, “Magnificent . . . a novel of narrative complexity and blindingly direct emotion.” Carey’s other recent works include the novels, Theft: A Love Story (2006), The True History of the Kelly Gang (2002), and Oscar and Lucinda (1988).
Cosponsored in conjunction with Rensselaer’s 68th McKinney Writing Contest and Reading

A.R. Gurney

13th Annual Burian Lecture
A. R. Gurney

April 15 (Wednesday)
Questions & Answers — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Burian Lecture — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

A. R. Gurney, who has been writing for the American stage since the 1950s, is one of the few major playwrights whose past and new work continues to be performed widely four decades later. Gurney is best-known for trenchant and comic work that examines the manners and mores of the upper middle-class. Frank Rich of the New York Times said Gurney has “claimed John Cheever’s territory for the stage.” Classic works by Gurney include “Screen Play” (2005), “Mrs. Farnsworth” (2004), “O Jerusalem” (2003), the Pulitzer-nominated “Love Letters” (1990), “The Perfect Party” (1986), and “The Dining Room” (1982). Gurney’s newest play, “A Light Lunch” (2008), is a political satire about life under the presidency of George W. Bush.
Cosponsored by the Department of Theatre and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment

Pen World Voices

PEN World Voices: Festival of International Literature

April 28 (Tuesday)
Writers in Conversation — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

The Institute will host a selection of writers who will participate in the 2009 PEN World Voices: The New York Festival of International Literature, sponsored by the PEN American Center. Dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding, tolerance, and freedom of expression, the PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest human rights and international literary arts organization. This year’s festival theme is Evolution/Revolution which will explore issues of global change.

Anne Waldman


Anne Waldman
April 30 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Reading — 7:30 p.m., [NOTE EARLY START TIME], Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Anne Waldman, pioneering performance artist, political activist, and author of more than forty books of poetry, is often called “the youngest poet of the Beat generation.” Her latest poetry collection is Manatee/Humanity (2009). Forrest Gander of the Poetry Foundation described the title piece as “a cri de coeur for the non-human world.” A major force in the New York poetry scene throughout the 1960s, Waldman cofounded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado with Allen Ginsberg in 1974. An energetic reader and performer, Waldman is also credited with helping to invent a crazed, exuberant, highly physical style of oratory that attracted the “MTV Generation” back to the art of poetry during the 1980s and 1990s.

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