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Spring 2018
Each semester the Writers Institute sponsors residencies of varying lengths by authors who have distinguished themselves both for their writing and their teaching. In tandem with these residencies free writing workshops are offered on a competitive basis to members of the community.

James LasdunMemoir and the Personal Essay Workshop
Offered by
Writers Institute Fellow James Lasdun

New York State Writers Institute Fellow James Lasdun will conduct a workshop in spring 2018 for writers interested in all aspects of fiction. The focus will be on detailed discussion of students' work but there will also be readings from published novels, novellas, and short stories. These will range from the classic to the contemporary, and will be selected with a view to broadening the discussion of topics such as character, plot, style, and form, as they arise. Participants will be expected to be strongly self-motivated and to submit two works of up to twenty pages each over the course of the semester. These may be short stories or excerpts from longer works.

The workshop is scheduled for eight Wednesday nights (March 28, April 4, 11, 18, 25, May 2, 9, 16) from 6 to 9 p.m. There will also be opportunities for individual student conferences. The class will take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus.

This workshop is offered for non-credit, free of charge for non-University students. Enrollment will be limited to twelve students. To be considered, submit manuscripts to the Writers Institute according to the guidelines listed below. Due to the volume of manuscripts received from previous workshops, we must insist that you follow the guidelines exactly.

Guidelines for Fiction Writing Workshop

  1. All manuscripts must be typewritten, double-spaced.
  2. All submissions must include a separate cover sheet with name, home address, work and home telephone numbers, and e-mail address.
  3. Submit 5–20 pages of fiction writing—a short story, part of a short story, or part of a novel. Include a brief statement (50–100 words) describing your interest in fiction writing and what you hope to learn by participating in this workshop. To insure a blind selection process, do not put your name on any of these pages.
  4. Be sure to keep a copy of your work as your manuscript will not be returned to you.
  5. Manuscripts delivered in person will be accepted up until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. Mailed manuscripts must be postmarked no later than Thursday, February 22, 2018. No faxes or e-mails.
  6. Notification of acceptance will be by Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Please do not call regarding the status of your manuscript. We regret that neither Mr. Lasdun nor the Institute can comment on manuscripts by writers not selected.

    Mail manuscripts to: 
    Lasdun Fiction Writing Workshop
    New York State Writers Institute
    , University at Albany, SL 320
    1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY  12222

James Lasdun
James Lasdun is a fiction and nonfiction writer, poet, and screenwriter. Born and raised in England, he has received awards and critical praise for his work on both sides of the Atlantic. Literary critic James Wood has said, “James Lasdun seems to me to be one of the secret gardens of English writing . . . When we read him we know what language is for.”

Lasdun’s newest publications are the psychological thriller The Fall Guy (2016), and the poetry volume Bluestone: New and Selected Poems (2015). The Wall Street Journal called The Fall Guy “Elegant and disturbing… This simple-seeming novel, so graceful in its unfolding, proves dense with psychological detail and sly social observations,” and the New York Times Book Review said “This is exactly what a literary thriller should be: intelligent, careful, swift, unsettling.” J. D. McClatchy described the poems in Bluestone as “…heady with astonishing details and exhilarating language, yet in the core of each is a steel rod of precision and moral depth. … Here is the rare book—essential on every shelf, in every soul.”

Lasdun’s first novel, The Horned Man (2002), was a New York Times Notable Book and an Economist Best Book of the Year. Comic and terrifying at once, the novel tells the story of a professor persecuted by a secret enemy—or perhaps by his own paranoid delusions. The London Sunday Times called it an “enormously inventive, superbly written novel [that] puts more seasoned authors in the shade.” The Washington Post called it, “unputdownable… a masterpiece of chilling mesmerizing control.”

A political thriller, Lasdun’s second novel, Seven Lies (2005), tells the tale of a former East German who, by a series of blackly comic maneuvers, attempts to invent a perfect life for himself in the United States. The Guardian reviewer called it, “a marvel—exciting, atmospheric and the best summation to date of what it felt like to grow up on the other side of the wall.” It was long-listed for the Man-Booker Prize.

Lasdun’s most recent story collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt (2009), was listed by The Atlantic Monthly as one of its top five books of 2009. One of the stories, “An Anxious Man,” was the inaugural winner of the United Kingdom National Short Story Prize in 2006.

The nonfiction book, Give Me Everything You Have (2013), is a memoir of Lasdun’s experience of being cyberstalked. The New York Times described it as ‘smart, rigorous and beautifully written’. Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker’s “Page Turner” called it “One of those books that made me grateful for subway delays, so much did I want the excuse to keep reading it. It begins as an account of Lasdun’s alarming experience of being stalked by a onetime student—a premise for a book that no writer would envy—and ends up a rigorous and moving and very elegantly wrought examination of obsession, relentlessness, power, envy, and ambition.”  

Lasdun first came to public attention with the publication of his story collection Delirium Eclipse and Other Stories (1986), winner of the Dylan Thomas Award. The Washington Post Book World called Lasdun’s stories “the most auspicious first collection of stories to come out of England” since the mid-1970s. Lasdun is also the author of Besieged: Selected Stories (1999). The title story provided the basis of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1998 film, Besieged.

Landscape with Chainsaw, Lasdun’s 2001 poetry collection, was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the LA Times Book Prize. It was described by The New Yorker as “An extraordinary deconstruction and reconstruction of landscapes, both natural and interior.”

Lasdun is also the author of two travel guides with his wife, Pia Davis, Walking and Eating in Provence (2008) and Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria (1997).

Lasdun’s screenwriting credits also deserve mention. With director Jonathan Nossiter, he shared the Screenwriting Award for Sunday at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival (Sunday also received the Grand Jury Prize). Again with director Jonathan Nossiter, Lasdun co-wrote the screenplay of Signs and Wonders (2002), a psychological thriller starring Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgaard.

A Writing Fellow at the New York State Writers Institute, Lasdun has taught at a number of American universities, including the University at Albany, Columbia, Princeton, and The New School.