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Edmund White
Edmund White


New York State Author and Poets Awards and Reading, February 11, 2016
8:00 p.m. — Page Hall, 135 Western, Avenue, Downtown Campus

When I’m writing, I find that my brain begins to store information in a different way than it usually does. … there’s a magic which any writer can tell you about: the world provides you with just the information you need, it seems, just when you need it. —  Edmund White, The Art of Fiction, No. 105, The Paris Review, Fall 1988, No. 108

A Boy's Own StoryEdmund White is the author of more than two dozen works of fiction, memoir, and criticism, including the classic novel A Boy’s Own Story (1982), which the New York Times called a cross between J.D. Salinger and Oscar Wilde, and Genet: A Biography (1994), for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lambda Literary Award. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award for Literature from the National Academy of Arts and Letters and was made Chevalier (and later GenetOfficier) de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1993. White is a member of the Violet Quill, an influential literary circle of post-Stonewall New York writers, and co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (now GMHC), the world’s first provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and advocacy, established in New York City in January 1982. He was the inaugural recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award, honoring lifetime achievement by writers within the LGBT community, in 1989. A member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, White lives in New York City and has been a Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University since 1998.

Edmund White was born in 1940 in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in both Cincinnati and Chicago. He attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan as a child and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Chinese in 1962. After graduation, he moved to New York City, where he worked as a staff writer for Time-Life Books from 1962 to 1970, as senior editor of The Saturday Review (1972-73), and as associate editor of Horizon (1974-75). White published two novels in the 1970s: Forgetting Elena (1973), an allegorical fantasia on Fire Island life which Vladimir Nabokov called “a marvelous book,” and Nocturnes for the King of Naples (1978), which Gore Vidal called “a baroque invention of quite startling brilliance and intensity.” In 1977, along with renowned psychiatrist Dr. Charles Silverstein, White co-authored The Joy of Gay Sex, a revolutionary book on male/male relationships that has remained a consistent bestseller since its initial publication, and in 1980, he published States of Desire: Travels in Gay America, a groundbreaking book of gay travel writing.

The Beautiful Room is EmptyAs a fiction writer, White is perhaps best known for his trilogy of autobiographical novels: A Boy’s Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988), and The Farewell Symphony (1997). His other novels include The Married Man (2000), about love in the AIDS era, Hotel de Dream: A New Farewell SymphonyYork Novel (2007), which imagines the final days of the poet and novelist Stephen Crane, and Jack Holmes and His Friend (2013), which charts the unconventional relationship between two men, one gay, one straight, from their arrival in New York in the 1950s through the first stirrings of gay liberation. Dave Eggers has called White “one of the three or four most virtuosic living writers of sentences in the English language,” while John Irving has named him “one of the best writers of my generation…the contemporary American writer I reread more than any other, and the one whose next book I look forward to reading most.”

The Double Life of a RebelWhite is equally accomplished as a biographer and a cultural critic. In addition to his award-winning biography of Jean Genet, he is the author of Marcel Proust: A Life (1999) and Rimbaud: The Double Life City Boyof a Rebel (2008). He has published several works of memoir, including My Lives: An Autobiography (2005) and City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 70s (2009), and was the editor of the 1992 anthology The Faber Book of Short Gay Fiction and the 2002 essay collection Loss Within Loss: Artists in the Age of AIDS. His latest novel is Our Young Man, which follows the life of a Frenchman, Guy, as he goes from the industrial city of Clermont-Ferrand to the top of the modeling profession in New York City’s fashion world, becoming the darling of Fire Island’s gay community. The novel is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in April 2016.

Previous Visit: November 28, 2000

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