Nationally Acclaimed Fiction Writer Charles Bock to Open Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series

Issue Date: 
September 16, 2013

Entering its 14th year at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series will launch its 2013-14 season with a reading by Pitt’s Fred R. Brown Literary Award winner Charles Bock at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. All sessions in the series are free and open to the public.

The 2013-14 season features eight nationally acclaimed poets and writers, sharing their unique perspectives on art and literature. Speakers will include 2013 Guggenheim Fellow Anne Waldman, Pitt’s 2013-14 William Block Senior Writer Jeff Sharlet, and Walter Mosley, author of the best selling Easy Rawlins crime-fiction novel series.

Charles Bock is Pitt’s seventh Fred R. Brown Literary Award winner. The Brown Literary Award, a staple of the Writers Series since 2007, recognizes fiction writers in the early stages of their literary careers. The award carries an honorarium and is underwritten by Pitt alumni Fred R. (A&S ’71) and Melanie Brown (CGS ’86, BUS ’90G, ’93G). Past recipients include novelists Don Lee, Sabina Murray, and Justin Torres.

Described by the Los Angeles Times as “rich and compelling,” Bock’s debut novel Beautiful Children (Random House, 2008) focuses on the interwoven stories of troubled young people in Las Vegas. The book was designated a 2008 Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and won the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2009. Beautiful Children was both a national and a New York Times bestseller.

Bock served as a contributing essayist for the anthology State by State: A Panoramic Guide to America (Harper Collins Publishers, 2008). His works of fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Harper’s Magazine, Iowa Review, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.

A native of Las Vegas, Bock earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Bennington College in Bennington, Vt. His honors and distinctions include the 2009 Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame as well as a writing fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and a literature fellowship from the Ucross Foundation. Bock lives in New York City.

All events in the 2013-14 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series will be held at 8:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. A complete schedule, with speaker bios, follows:

Sept. 19

Charles Bock, fiction writer and Pitt’s 2013 Fred R. Brown Literary Award winner, opens the 2013-14 season with a reading from his debut novel, Beautiful Children, and other critically acclaimed works.

Oct. 10

Anne Waldman, poet, is the author of more than 40 poetry collections, including her most recent book Gossamurmur (Penguin Books, 2013). She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts and a winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award. Waldman is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Nov. 7

Emily Raboteau, nonfiction writer, is the author of Searching for Zion: The Quest For Home in the African Diaspora (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013) and The Professor’s Daughter (Macmillan Publishing, 2005). She is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize as well as the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Short Story Award. 

Jan. 27

Hilton Als, nonfiction writer, serves as a theater critic for The New Yorker and was a former editor at VIBE Magazine as well as a staff writer for The Village Voice. He served as a contributing author for the book Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (Twin Palms Publishers, 2000).

Feb. 6

Walter Mosley, fiction writer, is the author of more than 40 books, including Devil in a Blue Dress (W.W. Norton & Company, 1990), which was adapted into a major motion picture of the same name in 1995. Mosley is a recipient of PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award as well as an O. Henry Award.

April 3     

Jeff Sharlet, nonfiction writer, is the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithlessness, and the Country in Between (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011) and a coauthor of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible (Free Press, 2004).  Sharlet is a recipient of the Molly National Journalism Prize, Thomas Jefferson Award, and the Outspoken Award. Sharlet is Pitt’s 2013-14 William Block Senior Writer, which recognizes the career accomplishments of fiction and nonfiction writers as well as poets. The award is named for William Block Sr., the late publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

April 10

Dana Ward, poet, is the author of the poetry collections The Crisis of Infinite Worlds (Futurepoem Books, 2013) and This Can’t Be Life (Edge Books, 2012). Ward serves as the editor of CyPress Books.

Anne Boyer, poet, is the author of the poetry collections My Common Heart (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2011) and The Romance of Happy Workers (Coffee House, 2008). Boyer is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Kansas City Art Institute.

The University of Pittsburgh Writing Program and University Store on Fifth cosponsor the 2013-14 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series season. For more information, visit or contact 412-624-6508.