Writer Deni Béchard Kicks off Spring Series on February 11

February 11, 2014

The Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities opens its popular Distinguished Writers Series and welcomes acclaimed author Deni Béchard on February 11.

The other events in the series take place on March 3, March 17, and April 1. All readings are held at 4:30 p.m. at the Newhouse Center, Green Hall second floor, and are free and open to the public. Readings are followed by a Q&A with the authors.

The Distinguished Writers Series reminds us that reading, writing, conversation, and laughter are related arts. The venue is intimate and the format is simple: The writers read, have a conversation with a faculty member, and then engage in an open dialogue with the audience.

February 11, 2014: Deni Béchard

Deni Béchard was born in British Columbia to Québécois and American parents and grew up in both Canada and the United States. His first novel, Vandal Love (2007), was published in both French and Arabic, and won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, both for best first book in Canada and for the best overall first book in the British Commonwealth. Vandal Love was also a 2012 Oprah’s Book Club pick. Béchard’s recent memoir, Cures for Hunger, describes growing up with his father who was a bank robber, and was both an IndieNext pick and Amazon Canada’s editor’s pick as one of the best memoir/biography of 2012. His latest book, Empty Hands, Open Arms, about conservation efforts in the Congo rainforest, was published in 2013.

Béchard has been a fellow at MacDowell, Jentel, Ledig House, the Anderson Center, Vermont Studio Center, and the Edward Albee Foundation. He has done freelance reporting from Northern Iraq as well as from Afghanistan, and has written for a number of magazines and newspapers, among them the Los Angeles Times, Outside, Salon, VQR, the National Post, Maisonneuve, Le Devoir, Harvard Review, and Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

March 3, 2014: Claire Messud

Claire Messud has taught at various colleges and universities, and was deputy editor of the Guardian newspaper's Women's Page. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, and the Straus Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, and her book of novellas, The Hunters, were finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; her second novel, The Last Life, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Editor's Choice at The Village Voice; all three books were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her novel The Emperor's Children was on several best books of the year lists. Her most recent book, The Woman Upstairs, was published in April 2013.

March 17, 2014: Elizabeth Kolbert

rowing out of Elizabeth Kolbert's groundbreaking three-part series in The New Yorker magazine, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change brings the environment into the consciousness of the American people. The book was one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year (2006) by The New York Times Book Review. Her latest work, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, will be published this month.

Kolbert received the prestigious Heinz Award, as well as a 2010 National Magazine Award, and the Sierra Club's 2011 David R. Brower Award.

April 1, 2014: Chris Abani and Cristina García

Chris Abani's prose includes Song for Night, the Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail, GraceLand, and Masters of the Board. His poetry collections are Santificum, There Are No Names for Red, Feed Me the Sun--Collected Long Poems, Hands Washing Water, Dog Woman, Daphne's Lot, and Kalakuta Republic.  He is a professor at the University of California, Riverside, and the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize, and a Guggenheim Award.

Cristina García is the author of six novels: King of Cuba, The Lady Matador's Hotel, A Handbook to Luck, Monkey Hunting, The Agüero Sisters, and Dreaming in Cuban. Garcia has edited two anthologies. She is also the author of three works for young readers, and a  collection of poetry. Her work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into 14 languages. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers' Award, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and an NEA grant, among others.