Arts & Culture/Activists, Scholars, Publishers Part of Pitt’s 2007-08 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series

Issue Date: 
September 17, 2007

Inaugural Fred R. Brown Literary Award and a social responsibility panel discussion added to Pitt’s annual celebration of literature


The 2007-08 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series at the University of Pittsburgh will begin its 10th season with a reading by short story writer George Saunders at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

Saunders, an assistant professor of creative writing at Syracuse University, won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004. In 2006, he was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly called a “genius grant.” His fiction has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Esquire.

This year’s series marks the debut of the Fred R. Brown Literary Award, which will be presented to author Don Lee on Nov. 8. The award, named for Pitt alumni Fred R. Brown (CAS ’71) and Melanie Brown (CGS ’86, KGSB ’90, KGSB ’93), recognizes the accomplishments of fiction novelists early in their careers.

The series also will hold its first panel discussion on writing and social responsibility, featuring nonfiction writers Elmaz Abinader, Tim Bascom, Andrew Lam, and Sonia Nazario, on March 5.

The complete Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series 2007-08 schedule follows:

Oct. 1—George Saunders,
8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Author of Civil War Land in Bad Decline (Riverhead Books, 1996), Pastoralia (Riverhead Books, 2000), The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (Villard, 2000), The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (Riverhead Books, 2005), and In Persuasion Nation (Riverhead Books, 2006).

Oct. 17—Drue Heinz Literature Prize Reading and Award Ceremony, 
7:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Kirk Nesset
2007 Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner for Paradise Road (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007).
Hilary Masters
Drue Heinz judge; author of The Common Pasture (Macmillan, 1967), An American Marriage  (Macmillan, 1969), Palace of Strangers  (World Publishing, 1971), Notes from Memory (David Godine, 1982), Clemmons (David Godine, 1985), Cooper (St. Martin’s Press, 1987), Manuscript for Murder (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1987), Strickland (St. Martin’s Press, 1990), and Home Is the Exile (Permanent Press, 1996).

Oct. 23—Jan Freeman, 2 p.m., 501 Cathedral of Learning
A discussion of publishing poets with the author of Simon Says (Paris Press, 2000).

Allison Joseph, 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
A poetry reading from the author of What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand, 1992), Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997), In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997), Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2003), and Worldly Pleasures (Word Press, 2004).

Oct. 24— April Ossman, 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Poet and author of Anxious Music (Four Way Books, 2007).
Martha Rhodes
Poet and author of Mother Quiet (Zoo Press, 2004), Perfect Disappearance (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2000), and At the Gate (Provincetown Arts, 2000).

Nov. 8—Fred R. Brown Literary Award presentation, 8:30 p.m., 343 Alumni Hall
Don Lee
Author of Yellow (W.W. Norton & Co., 2001) and Country of Origin (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004).

Feb. 6—Ellen Bass,
8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Poet and author of the nonfiction books I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (Harper Collins, 1988) and Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth (Harper Collins, 1996).

Feb. 27—2007-08 William Block Sr. Writer, 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Philip Gourevitch
Editor of The Paris Review and author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (Picador, 1999) and A Cold Case (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001).

March 5—A Panel Discussion on Writing and Social Responsibility,
6 p.m., 501 Cathedral of Learning
Elmaz Abinader
Author of Children of the Roojme, A Family’s Journey From Lebanon  (University of Wisconsin, 1991) and In the Country of My Dreams: Poetry by Elmaz Abinader (Sufi Warrior Publishing Co., 1999).
Tim Bascom
Author of the novel Squatters Rites (New Day Press, 1990) and the memoir Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia (Mariner Books, 2006).
Andrew Lam
Editor with New America Media and author of Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora (Heyday Books, 2005).

April 2—Andrew Zawacki, 8:30 p.m., 501 Cathedral of Learning
Poet and author of By Reason of Breakings (University of Georgia Press, 2002).

The Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series is cosponsored by Pitt’s Book Center, Women’s Studies Program, and the University of Pittsburgh Press. All events in the Writers Series are free and open to the public.