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 Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Great Soul Physics of the Future Open City Hope A Tragedy

Alan Lightman
Photo: Jean Lightman

Alan Lightman, novelist and science writer
February 2 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Alan Lightman,
theoretical physicist, bestselling author, and leading explorer of the intersection between the sciences and the humanities, is renowned for accessible works of fiction and nonfiction that explain the “grand ideas” of physics. His most recent book is Mr. g: A Novel About the Creation (2012), which Publishers Weekly called, “a touching, imaginative rendition of God’s creation of the Universe.” Lightman is also the author of the novels The Diagnosis (2000), a National Book Award finalist, and Einstein’s Dreams (1993), an international bestseller, as well as many works of nonfiction. He is Senior Lecturer in Physics and Burchard Professor of Humanities at MIT.

Douglas Blackmon
Photo: Michael A. Schwarz

Sheila Bernard

February 3 (Friday)
Film screening and commentary — 7:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center [Note location]

Slvaey by another NameDirected by Samuel Pollard
(United States, 2012, 90 minutes, color and b/w)
Due to air on PBS in prime time on February 13 and selected for competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME is based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the abuse of black laborers in the United States from the end of the Civil War through the middle of the 20th century. Douglas A. Blackmon and Sheila Curran Bernard, who wrote the film, will answer questions immediately following the screening.

Douglas A. Blackmon,
an acclaimed journalist and independent historian, received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008). He is a Senior National Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

Sheila Curran Bernard, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, is Assistant Professor of History and Documentary Studies at UAlbany, and the author of Documentary Storytelling (2010).

NOTE: On Friday, February 3 at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus, Blackmon will hold an informal seminar on his current project, a memoir of growing up in the racially tense South.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s History Department and Documentary Studies Program

Teju Cole


Teju Cole, novelist and street photographer
February 10 (Friday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Teju Cole
is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Open City (2011), the story of a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist who wanders the streets of Manhattan exploring the city’s landscapes, people, and his own feelings of isolation. The New York Times named it a “2011 Notable Book” and described it as “An indelible novel [that] does precisely what literature should do: it brings together thoughts and beliefs, and blurs borders…A compassionate and masterly work.” Cole, who is also a street photographer, was born in the U.S., raised in Nigeria, and returned to the U.S. in 1992 at the age of 17.

Adam Johnson
Photo: Tamara Beckwith

Adam Johnson, novelist
February 14 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Adam Johnson is the author most recently of The Orphan Master’s Son (2012), a novel set in North Korea that brings to life its prison camps, orphanages, economic misery, routine corruption, and palaces of the bureaucratic elite. In advance praise, novelist David Mitchell called it, “An addictive novel of daring ingenuity; a study of sacrifice and freedom in a citizen-eating dynasty; and a timely reminder that anonymous victims of oppression are also human beings who love. A brave and impressive book.” Johnson’s award-winning fiction includes the story collection, Emporium (2002), and the novel, Parasites Like Us (2003). A creative writing professor at Stanford University, Johnson received the prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award and was named 2002 “Debut Writer of the Year” by Amazon.com.

Michio Kaku
Photo: Andrea Brizzi

Michio Kaku, physicist and author
February 21 (Tuesday)
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Ballroom, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Michio Kaku,
cutting-edge theoretical physicist, cofounder of “string field theory,” bestselling writer and influential futurist, is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (2011). Scientific American called it, “Epic in its scope and heroic in its inspiration.” Of particular interest to Capital Region audiences, Kaku devotes a large portion of the book to anticipated developments in the field of nanotechnology. Kaku’s earlier bestsellers include Physics of the Impossible (2008), Parallel Worlds (2004), and Einstein’s Cosmos (2004). Kaku appears frequently on the Discovery and Science Channels.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

John Sayles
Photo: Mary Cybulski

The Burian Lecture, Funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment
John Sayles, film director, screenwriter, and novelist

February 27 (Monday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

John Sayles, Schenectady native, award-winning director and screenwriter, and one of America’s most influential independent filmmakers, is the author of a new novel, A Moment in the Sun (2011)—a vast and brilliant American epic. Set in 1897, and covering many of the events of that pivotal year, the novel portrays the bloody dawn of U.S. interventionism in world affairs. NPR’s Morning Edition said, “If you only read one book this summer, make it A Moment in the Sun.” Sayles’s previous novel, Union Dues (1977), a story of Boston in 1969, was a finalist for the National Book Award. His twenty award-winning films as writer and director include SILVER CITY (2004), MEN WITH GUNS (1997), LONE STAR (1996), EIGHT MEN OUT (1988), MATEWAN (1987), and RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN (1979).

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Theatre Department

Masha Gessen
Photo: Courtesy of
Snob Magazine

Masha Gessen, Russian-American journalist
March 8 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Masha Gessen, Moscow-based journalist, is the author of the new book, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). Drawing on previously untapped sources, she presents a portrait of a ruthless politician underestimated by friends and enemies alike, who has dismantled his nation’s democratic and free market reforms in order to establish himself as totalitarian leader of the “new Russia.” The book was the talk of the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair due to its provocative and closely guarded material. Publishers Weekly said, “A Putin biography secretly lights up Frankfurt…. It was the book that, as one insider put it, you had to ‘go into a closet to read.’” The author of six previous books on Russia, Gessen has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, New Republic, Granta, and Slate, among other publications.

Margot Livesey
Photo: Emma Hardy

Jo Page

Margot Livesey, fiction writer, and Jo Page, fiction and nonfiction writer
March 20 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 7:30 p.m., Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY

Margot Livesey,
celebrated Scottish-born fiction writer, is the author most recently of The Flight of Gemma Hardy (2012), a modern-day retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The novel follows the fortunes of a young woman who accepts a position as an au pair for a wealthy family in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. In advance praise, author Amy Bloom said, “Livesey’s prose is a garden of pleasures: precision here, lyricism there, wit and compassionate insight throughout.” Livesey’s earlier books include The House on Fortune Street (2008), winner of the PEN New England Award; Banishing Verona (2004); and Eva Moves the Furniture (2001), a finalist for the PEN New England Award.

Jo Page has published fiction and nonfiction in Quarterly West, New Millennium Writings, The South Carolina Review, and other print and online journals. She was a finalist for the 2009 Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction prize. Page has taught at the University of Virginia, Hudson Valley Community College, the New York State Writers Institute, and The Albany Academy and has led seminars on the spirituality of writing/reading poetry. Page received her MFA from the University of Virginia and has written a memoir, Going Out, and a novel, Weddings at Lakeview.

Cosponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library

John Matteson
Photo: Amy T. Zielinski

John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer
March 22 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Huxley Theatre, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center

John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, is the author of the new book, The Lives of Margaret Fuller (2012), a portrait of the fiery 19th century social critic who was the most famous American woman of her time. Author of the first great work of American feminism, and a celebrated columnist for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, Fuller was a leading Transcendentalist, a war columnist in Italy, and a free spirit who conceived a child out of wedlock with an Italian nobleman. Matteson received the Pulitzer Prize for his previous book, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (2007), a dual biography that explores a rich father-daughter relationship and intellectual partnership.

Cosponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library

Robert Nickas
Photo: Slava Mogutin
Robert Nickas, art critic and curator
March 26 (Monday)
Reading — 7:00 p.m., University Art Museum, Fine Arts Building, Uptown Campus

Robert Nickas is a prolific curator of contemporary art, a critic celebrated for his bold, independent and dissenting views on art, and a central figure of the New York City art world for more than a quarter century. He has organized more than eighty major shows, including a section of the 1993 Venice Biennale and he was on the team that organized the 2003 Biennale de Lyon. Nickas is the author most recently of Catalog of the Exhibition (2011), a retrospective of his exhibitions from 1985 to 2011. Founding editor of the art magazine, index, Nickas is also the author of the books Painting Abstraction (2009), the first definitive survey of the new wave of innovation in abstract painting, Theft is Vision (2007), and Live Free or Die (2000).

Cosponsored by the University Art Museum
Lauren Groff
Photo: Sarah McKune
Lauren Groff, novelist and short story writer
March 27 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Lauren Groff’s
first novel was the surprise bestseller, The Monsters of Templeton (2008), the story of a graduate student of archaeology who digs up dark secrets in Templeton, a stand-in for her hometown—Cooperstown, New York. A New York Times and Booksense bestseller, the novel was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. Groff’s new novel is Arcadia (2012), the story of an upstate New York Utopian community that falls apart. In advance praise, novelist Richard Russo said, “Arcadia is one of the most moving and satisfying novels I’ve read in a long time. It is not possible to write any better without showing off.” The prize-winning author of numerous short stories, Groff also published the story collection Delicate Edible Birds in 2009.

Joseph Lelyveld
Photo: Janny Scott


Joseph Lelyveld, journalist, nonfiction author, and editor
April 3 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Joseph Lelyveld,
journalist and nonfiction author, worked at the New York Times from 1962 through 2001 serving as foreign correspondent in the Congo, South Africa, India and Pakistan, then as London bureau chief, foreign editor, managing editor, and finally executive editor from 1994 – 2001. Lelyveld’s most recent book is Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India (2011). The book reveals Gandhi’s “less palatable tendencies” as well as his vision for nonviolent revolution. Publishers Weekly described Great Soul as “A stirring evenhanded account that relates the failure of Gandhi’s politics of saintliness while attesting to its enduring power.” Lelyveld won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his nonfiction book Move Your Shadow: South Africa Black and White based on his reporting tours in that country.

Ghassan Zaqtan

Ghassan Zaqtan, Palestinian poet, with Fady Joudah, poet and translator

April 10 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
, Uptown Campus

Ghassan Zaqtan, poet, novelist, journalist, screenwriter and playwright, is a major Palestinian poet and a leading representative of the avant-garde in Arabic literature. His most recent collection—the first to appear in English—is Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012), which was translated by Fady Joudah, a Palestinian-American poet and winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition for his own collection, The Earth in the Attic (2008). A past participant in numerous panels and colloquia with leading Israeli writers on peaceful coexistence and mutual concerns, Zaqtan is also the co-founder and director of the House of Poetry in Ramallah and is currently the Director General of the Literature and Publishing Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture.

Cosponsored by International Poets in Conversation, part of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute’s consortium tour.

Anne Enright
Photo: Domnick Walsh
Anne Enright, Irish fiction writer
April 18 (Wednesday)
Reading and McKinney Award Ceremony — 8:00 p.m., Biotech Auditorium, Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Building, Rensselaer, (RPI), Troy, NY

Anne Enright,
award-winning Irish fiction writer, is the author most recently of the novel The Forgotten Waltz (2011), a story of desire, the sudden drama of everyday life, and the volatile connection between people. Publishers Weekly called the book a “masterful and deeply satisfying novel,” and in a starred review Booklist said, “This stunning novel…offers up its brilliance by way of astonishingly effective storytelling.” Enight’s international bestseller The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. Her other works include the collected stories Yesterday’s Weather (2008) and the novels The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2003), and What Are You Like? (2000).

Cosponsored in conjunction with Rensselaer’s 71st McKinney Writing Contest and Reading
For map and directions see: http://rpi.edu/tour/directions.html

The Kite Runner American Place Theatre performance of The Kite Runner
April 18 (Wednesday)
Performance — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m.

$15 general public / $12 seniors & faculty-staff / $10 students Box Office: (518) 442-3997
The “Literature to Life” program of American Place Theatre presents a one-man theatrical adaptation of the first half of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel, The Kite Runner (2003). It portrays the doomed relationship between two boys growing up in Afghanistan—one a privileged Pashtun, the other a Hazara servant—in a society of severe class division and political turmoil.

Presented by the Performing Arts Center in conjunction with the New York State Writers Institute.
Shalom Auslander
Photo: Franco Vogt

Resheduled Event from March 1
Shalom Auslander, fiction writer and memoirist

April 24 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Shalom Auslander, ex-Orthodox Jew, humorist, cultural renegade, and contributor to NPR’s This American Life, received both notoriety and praise for his story collection, Beware of God (2005), and the memoir, Foreskin’s Lament (2007). Hope: A Tragedy (2012), his first novel, tells the story of a troubled man who discovers—living in the attic of his upstate New York home—a decrepit old woman who claims to be Anne Frank. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Cultural anthropologists trying to figure out if there really is a recognizably Jewish voice and sense of humor ... should consider Auslander’s debut novel.”

Martha Rozette Martha Rozett, Shakespearean scholar and author
April 25 (Wednesday)
Reading — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Martha Rozett, University at Albany English professor and Shakespearian scholar, is the author of the family memoir When People Wrote Letters: A Family Chronicle (2011). The book’s central characters are Betty and Edith Stedman, the author’s mother and great-aunt. Their lives are recounted through wonderfully witty and moving letters, photographs, clippings, and excerpts from an unpublished autobiography and family history. The narrative follows the two women, and other family members, from nineteenth and early twentieth century New England, to Key West in the 1830s, to the Minnesota Territories in the 1860s, to France during World War I, to small towns in Texas and to China in the 1920s, to Spain in the 1930s, and across America during World War II. When People Wrote Letters is also an account of Edith Stedman’s extraordinary career during the early years of medical social work, and a love story in which the religious and cultural differences between New England Episcopalians and New York Jews threaten to disrupt a romance in the 1940s.

Harry Staley

George Drew

Harry Staley and George Drew
May 2 (Wednesday)
Reading — 4:15 p.m., Room 340, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Harry C. Staley is a noted Joyce scholar and Professor Emeritus of English at the University at Albany, where he taught from 1956 until his retirement in 1993. His poetry has been published in Groundswell, Psycho-poetry, The Little Magazine, Pennsylvania Literary Review, Arizona Quarterly, and elsewhere.

George Drew, poet and former student of Harry Staley at the University at Albany,is the author most recently of The View from Jackass Hill (2010), a collection that mourns, eulogizes, and celebrates deceased friends, family members, and favorite poets.

Science Library, SL 320 | University at Albany, NY 12222 | Phone 518-442-5620 | Fax 518-442-5621 |
email [email protected]