Visiting Writers William Kennedy & Russell Banks – photo by Emma Dodge Hanson '93
2015 VISITING WRITERS & WRITERS-IN-RESIDENCE
Russell Banks is the author of Cloudsplitter, Continental Drift, The Book of Jamaica, and many other works of fiction. Banks's novels Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter (three Cannes Film Festival awards) have been made into successful feature films. His novel Rule of the Bone was praised by Cornel West as the work of "a great writer wrestling with the hidden secrets and explosive realities of this country." The Darling is Banks' political novel. ("Russell Banks's twentieth-century Liberia is as hellish a place as Joseph Conrad's nineteenth century Congo. The only creatures that behave with humanity are the apes. A dark and disturbing book," writes Michael Ondaatje.) Banks' latest novel (2011) is Lost Memory of Skin. Janet Maslin in the New York Times: "Destined to be a canonical novel of our time...delivers another of Banks' wrenching, panoramic visions of American life."
Ann Beattie is the author of many books, including The New Yorker Stories, Park City, Love Always, Another You, Perfect Recall and Picturing Will. Michiko Kakutani writes of her in the NY Times: "To say that Ann Beattie is a good writer would be an understatement. Her ear is faultless, her eye ruthless as a hawk's." Lorrie Moore wrote of her, also in the NY Times, as follows: "One feels amazed at the confidence, steadiness, and quality of her writing." Among her many awards is the Rea Award for Short Fiction.
Rivka Galchen is the author of the novel Atmospheric Disturbances and of a recent book of short stories entitled American Innovations (2014). The New Yorker selected her as one of its notable "20 Under 40" writers in 2010, and in recent years she has appeared frequently in such publications as The New Yorker, Harper's and the NY Times Book Review. Of her novel James Wood wrote in the New Yorker: "A relentless exploration of how a man could fail to see clearly the woman he loves...A novel that knows how to move from the comic to the painful." Laura Miller wrote of the novel in Salon: "At once mournful and playful...a droll, exquisite first novel."
Jorie Graham won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for her book Dream of the Unified Field. Other volumes of her poetry include Erosion, Materialism, The Errancy, Swarm and Place. She is the Boylston Professor at Harvard University and the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" Award, among many other awards. The US Poetry Foundation says that "She is perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation."
Tom Healy is Director of the Fulbright Foundation and a professor at New York University. He is the author of a volume of poems called What The Right Hand Knows. (Publishers Weekly: "Laconic yet passionate and sparely personal." Huffington Post, Carol Muske-Dukes: "a poet with a clear and urgent style in poems perfectly off-beam, asymmetrical and off-balance.") Healy's most recent volume is Animal Spirits. He is Chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and teaches at NYU.
William Kennedy is the author of Ironweed (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award), Quinn's Book, Legs, The Ink Truck, Very Old Bones, Roscoe, and The Flaming Corsage. Kennedy, who also wrote the film version of Ironweed (1987) and co-scripted The Cotton Club with Francis Ford Coppola (1986), is the winner of a MacArthur Award, a Brandeis Creative Arts Award, and a New York Arts Award. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute at Albany. His latest novel is Chango's Beads And 2-Tone Shoes. New York Times Book Review, front page: "Proves he can play with both hands and improvise on a theme without losing the beat...a masterwork."
Jamaica Kincaid is the author of many books, including Mr. Potter (described by Robert Boyers as "a perfect, perfectly heartbreaking novel"), Lucy, At The Bottom of the River, Annie John, My Brother, A Small Place, Autobiography of My Mother, and other books. Her most recent novel is See Now Then. Kincaid is described as follows in the New York Times: "She has the gift of endowing common experience with a mythic ferocity... She is one of our most scouringly vivid writers."
Joyce Carol Oates is a National Book Award winning novelist, short-story writer, poet, and critic, who has produced more than 30 novels and many books of stories, among them Blonde, We Were the Mulvaneys, Zombie, Foxfire, American Appetites, Bellefleur, The Wheel of Love, and A Garden of Earthly Delights. Walter Clemons wrote of her in Newsweek, "Like the most important writers...she has an absolute identification with her material: the spirit of a society at a crucial point in its history." Oates, who has had two national bestsellers (Blonde and We Were the Mulvaneys), now teaches creative writing at NYU after many years as the Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. Her recent books include A Widow's Story: A Memoir, Missing Mom and High Lonesome.
Michael Ondaatje won the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient and has written many novels and books of poetry. Among his best known works are Anil's Ghost, In The Skin of a Lion, The Collected Works of Billy The Kid and the memoir Running In The Family. "The reader who travels with Ondaatje enters a truly magical world," writes Maxine Hong Kingston.
Joseph O'Neill is the author of six novels, the most recent of which is The Dog, described in the NY Times Book Review as a work of "nightmarish subtlety" which features "an Arab intuition of Western desire" written with "consummate elegance." O'Neill's previous novel, Netherland, was one of the most celebrated books of the past decade, described by Dwight Garner in the NY Times as follows: "The wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we've yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Center fell...On a macro level it's about nearly everything: family, politics, identity...O' Neill seems incapable of composing a boring sentence or thinking an uninteresting thought...The book has more life inside it than ten very good novels." O' Neill's non-fiction is collected in the volume Blood-Dark Track. He was born in Ireland and grew up in South Africa, Iran, Turkey and Holland.
Caryl Phillips teaches at Yale University and is the author of many books of fiction and non-fiction. Dancing In The Dark (2005) was a finalist for the National Book Award ("a devastating novel," wrote Donna Seaman in a starred review for Booklist: "Given the drama and beauty of his writing and the freshness of his insights into both personal and social conundrums regarding race and identity, Phillips is in a league with Toni Morrison and V.S. Naipaul"). Winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Phillips is the author of such works as Cambridge, The Nature of Blood, The Final Passage, A Distant Shore, and The Atlantic Sound.
Robert Pinsky was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997 to 2000. Among his many books are volumes of poetry, a best-selling translation of Dante and prose books that include The Sounds of Poetry and David. In a New York Times Book Review, Katha Pollitt wrote of Pinsky's collected poems (The Figured Wheel): "This is an extraordinarily accomplished and beautiful volume." The reviewer for The Nation wrote: "This is the most scrupulously intelligent body of work produced by an American poet in the past 25 years." And Louise Glück wrote of Pinsky's Gulf Music: "An art whose scope and complexity and grandeur are rarely equaled by any of his contemporaries."
Francine Prose is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction, including Guided Tours of Hell, Primitive People, and Bigfoot Dreams. Her novel, Blue Angel, was hailed in Publishers Weekly as "a peerlessly accomplished performance...timelessly funny," and in Mademoiselle as a "funny yet devastating novel that will rock literary and academic worlds alike." Prose is a contributing editor of Harper's and writes for the New Yorker, Gentleman's Quarterly, and Atlantic Monthly. Recent books include The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & The Artists They Inspired, Caravaggio, and A Changed Man. Other recent titles include the novels Goldengrove and Lovers At The Chameleon Club. Her recent non-fiction books include Reading Like A Writer, and Anne Frank.
Jane Shore is the author of many books of poetry, most recently The Said: New and Selected Poems (2012). W.S. Merwin describes her work as follows: "A poetry of etched clarity" with "a language of quiet directness, grace and exactness, clear and without affectation, but with a majestic readability." Shore's first volume Eye Level won the Juniper Prize, and her subsequent volumes include Music Minus One, Happy Family and A Yes Or No Answer.
Charles Simic, the recent Poet Laureate of the United States, won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for The World Doesn't End, and is the author of many books, including Jackstraws, Night Picnic, Hotel Insomnia, A Wedding in Hell, Walking The Black Cat, Unending Blues, and Dismantling The Silence. His non-fiction books include The Uncertain Certainty, Orphan Factory, and a memoir titled A Fly In The Soup. He writes regularly on poetry and other matters for the New York Review of Books.
Linda Spalding won the 2012 Canadian Governor General's Award for her novel The Purchase, described by Caryl Phillips as "a posed and moving novel about the indignities of slavery and the moral stain at the inception of the American republic." Spalding is co-founder and editor of the Canadian journal BRICK and the author of many books, including Who Named The Knife, A Dark Place In The Jungle and Riska.