University of Pittsburgh
August 18, 2009

Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series Commemorates a Decade of Celebrating Literature With Reading by Internationally Acclaimed Writer Aleksandar Hemon Sept. 17

Pitt's annual literary series launches 2009-10 season with a focus on the future of the literary world
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series will be celebrating a decade of activism, critical thought, and literature as it opens its 2009-10 season with a reading by the 2009 Fred R. Brown Literary Award winner Aleksandar Hemon, at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in the J.W. Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

The 2009-10 Writers Series season will feature a number of interviews and discussions focused on the future of book publishing and the literary world. Notable speakers will include Maud Newtown, whose embracing of blogging and other Internet-based innovations have led her to be a contributor for major media outlets, and Sven Birkerts, whose book "The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age" (Faber & Faber, 1994) examined the decline in the reading of books as a result of overwhelming advances of the Internet and other technologies.

The season will commence with a reading by Hemon, a critically acclaimed journalist and writer. A native of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Hemon graduated from the University of Sarajevo with a degree in literature in 1990. While Hemon was visiting the United States in 1992, war broke out in his country, forcing him to seek political asylum in Chicago. He began writing about the immigration experience-stories that eventually became his first book, "The Question of Bruno" (Doubleday, 2000).

Hemon is also the author of "The Lazarus Project" (Riverhead Books, 2008), which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, as well as "Love and Obstacles" (Riverhead Books, 2009) and "Nowhere Man," (Doubleday, 2002). His work has appeared in such publications as "The New Yorker," "Esquire," and "The Paris Review." Among Hemon's many awards and distinctions are a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly referred to as a "Genius Grant;" a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2008 Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in Fiction.

The most recent addition to the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, the Fred R. Brown Literary Award recognizes fiction writers in the early stages of their careers. It carries a financial honorarium and is underwritten by Pitt alumni Fred R. (CAS '71) and Melanie Brown (CGS '86, KGSB '90 and KGSB '93) of Bethel Park, Pa.

The complete schedule for the 2009-10 Pittsburgh Writers Series follows:

Sept. 17

Fred R. Brown Literary Award Reading and Interview

8:30 p.m., J.W. Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall

Aleksandar Hemon will give a reading of his work and will be featured in a live interview titled "The Future of Fiction," which will be conducted by Pitt English professor Irina Reyn, author of "What Happened to Anna K." (Touchstone, 2008).

Oct. 14

Drue Heinz Literature Prize Reading and Award Ceremony

7:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland

Anne Sanow, 2009 Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner, is the author of the short story collection "Triple Time" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).

Ann Patchett, 2009 Drue Heinz Literature Prize Judge, is the author of the novels "The Patron Saint of Liars" (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992), "Taft" ( Houghton Mifflin, 1994 ), "The Magician's Assistant" (Harvest Books, 1997), "Bel Canto" ( Harper Collins, 2001), and Run (Harper Collins, 2007).

Nov. 5

C.D. Wright, 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Wright is the author of 12 books of poetry, including her latest, Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon Press, 2008). She will give a reading of her work and will be featured in a live interview titled "The Future of Poetry," which will be conducted by Pitt English professor Dawn Lundy Martin, author of A Gathering of Matter/A Matter of Gathering: Poems (University of Georgia Press, 2003).

Feb. 11

2009-10 William Block Senior Writer Conversation,

8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Sven Birkerts, 2009-10 William Block Senior Writer, is the author of several collections of essays, including The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber & Faber, 1994).

Maud Newton, blogger and essayist, has had her book reviews and opinions published in such newspapers as the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, and The Washington Post Book World.

The two writers will participate in a discussion titled "The Future of the Book," which will be moderated by Pitt English professor Cathy Day, author of "The Circus in Winter" (Harcourt, 2004).

March 25

Nathaniel Mackey, 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium Mackey is the author of five chapbooks and four books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed "Splay Anthem" (New Directions, 2006), which won the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry. He will give a reading of his work and will be featured in a live interview titled "The Future of Poetry II," conducted by Pitt English professor Ben Lerner.

The 2009-10 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series season is cosponsored by Pitt's Writing Program, Book Center, University Library System, and University of Pittsburgh Press.

All events in the Writers Series are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jeff Oaks at oaks@pitt.edu or visit www.english.pitt.edu.

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