Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spring 2009 Visiting Writers Series to feature Jayne Anne Phillips, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Alex Gibney

The Spring 2009 Visiting Writers series will feature an exciting line-up of writers distinguished in a variety of fields, including fiction, poetry, history, science writing, literary criticism, drama and screenwriting. Details will be announced shortly.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can look forward to in the coming months….

Jayne Anne Phillips, author of fiction rooted in her West Virginia girlhood, has been called one of the most gifted writers of her generation (Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times). Phillips is the author most recently of Lark and Termite (2009), a novel about the members of a West Virginia family struggling to survive during the 1950s at the time of the Korean War. The characters include Lark, a teenage girl forced by circumstances to assume the responsibilities of womanhood, and Termite, her profoundly disabled younger brother who, despite his impairments, enjoys an intricate inner life. In advance praise, novelist Junot Díaz called it, “extraordinary… luminous… It is an astounding feat of the imagination… the best novel I've read this year.” Alice Munro said, “This novel is cut like a diamond, with such sharp authenticity and bursts of light.” Phillips’ earlier books include Black Tickets (1979), Machine Dreams (1984), Shelter (1994) and MotherKind (2000).

Annette Gordon-Reed has been called, “one of the most astute, insightful, and forthright historians of this generation” (Edmund Morgan, The New York Review of Books). A Professor of History at Rutgers and Professor of Law at New York Law School, Gordon-Reed is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello (2008), winner of the 2008 National Book Award. The new book tells the story of multiple generations of Thomas Jefferson’s secret slave family. Earlier works include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997), which Jill Lepore called, “[A] tour de force. . . . a devastating brief on standards of evidence in historical research.” Gordon-Reed also coauthored Vernon Can Read! (2001), the autobiography of civil rights leader and Clinton confidant, Vernon Jordan.

Alex Gibney Documentary Film Series
We will host a visit by Alex Gibney, major documentary film director, in association with a screening of three of his major films: Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008), a finalist for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), which received the Academy Award for Best Documentary; Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005), which was nominated for the same Academy Award. Gibney also directed The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002), and is currently at work on Freakonomics (2009), based on the bestseller by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Gibney served as executive producer for the Iraqi war documentary No End in Sight (2007), an Academy Award contender, and served as series producer under Martin Scorcese for the 2003 PBS series “The Blues.”