Information about all of our past Distinguished Writers Events, organized by month, can be found in our online archiveAll readings will take place in the drawing room of the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities and are free and open to the public.

Distinguished Writers Series: Zadie Smith

Monday, December 01, 2014, 4:30PM

Pendleton Atrium, Wellesley College/Free and Open to the Public

Novelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997. Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000) won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages.  Her tenure as Writer in Residence at the Institute of Contemporary Arts resulted in the publication of an anthology of erotic stories entitled Piece of Flesh (2001).  In 2013, Zadie Smith’s short story, The Embassy of Cambodia was published in the United Kingdom as a stand-alone story in book form, selling in excess of 40,000 copies in the first year of publication.  Zadie Smith’s second novel, The Autograph Man (2002), a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity, won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 and 2013 she was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’.  On Beauty, was published in 2005, and won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. She has also written a nonfiction book about writing entitled Fail Better (2006). Her book, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, came out in 2009. Her novel, NW (2012) was named as one of the New York Times' '10 Best Books of 2012.’
Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University. 


Distinguished Writers Series: Anne Carson

Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 4:30PM

Newhouse Center, Green Hall/Free and Open to the Public

A poet, classics scholar and winner of the MacArthur “Genius” award, Anne Carson as been called “the most exciting poet writing in English today” by Michael Ondaatje.  Carson’s most recent works include Decreation:  Poetry, Essays, Operas and The Beauty of the Husband.  She is also the author of Nox, Eros the Bittersweet and translator of If Not Writer:  Fragments of Sappho.  Her awards and honors include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry and a Guggenheim fellowship.


Distinguished Writers Series: Joshua Ferris and Helen Oyeyemi

Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 4:30PM

Newhouse Center for the Humanities, Green Hall/Free and Open to the Public

Joshua Ferris’s latest novel is To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed debut novel, Then We Came to the End, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and received the 2007 PEN/Hemingway Award, and The Unnamed, his second novel. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Guardian, The Iowa Review, and Best American Short Stories 2009. He attended the University of Iowa and the University of California, Irvine, and his nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies State by State and Heavy Rotation.

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, including White is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham award, Mr. Fox, which one a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and most recently Boy, Snow, Bird.  In 2013, Oyeyemi was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists.  She lives in Prague.


Distinguished Writers Series: Dorianne Laux and Kevin Young

Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 4:30PM

Newhouse Center for the Humanities, Green Hall/Free and Open to the Public

Dorianne Laux’s fifth collection, The Book of Men was the winner of The Paterson Prize.. Her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry (finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award) and Smoke, as well as The Book of Women, and Dark Charms.  Co-author of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, she’s the recipient of three Best American Poetry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She directs the Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty of Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program.

Kevin Young is the author of Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad RebelsDear DarknessFor the Confederate DeadBook of Hours and the film noir in verse Black Maria. Young was a 1993 Nation Poetry Series winner for Most Way Home, a finalist for the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets for To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Jelly Roll: A Blues. Young is also the author of a non-fiction book, The Grey Album, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the 2013 PEN Open Book Award. He is the editor of several collections, most recently The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink. Young is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English, and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.



Distinguished Writers Series: Salar Abdoh and Gina Nahai

Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 4:30PM

Newhouse Center for the Humanities, Green Hall/Free and Open to the Public

Salar Abdoh was born in Iran, and splits his time between Tehran and New York City, where he is codirector of the Creative Writing MFA Program at the City College of New York. He is the author of The Poet Game and Opium. His essays and short stories have appeared in various publications, including the New York Times, BOMB, Callaloo, Guernica, and on the BBC. He is the recipient of the NYFA Prize and the National Endowment for the Arts award. He is the editor of Tehran Noir and the author of Tehran at Twilight, his latest novel.


Gina B. Nahai is a best-selling author, and a professor of Creative Writing atUSC. Her novels have been translated into eighteen languages, and have been selected as “One of the Best Books of the Year” by the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.  Nahai’s books include Cry of the Peacock (1992), Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith (1999), Sunday’s Silence (2001) and Caspian Rain (2007),. Her new novel, The Luminous Heart of Jonah S., was published by Akashic Books in October, 2014.