Famed authors visit campus for Story Week
Columbia’s Fiction Writing Department kicked off its 13th annual Story Week on March 14, featuring readings by acclaimed international authors and college students alike and honoring literary legends at venues throughout the city until March 20.
The event has become popular not only among Columbia students, but Chicago as well during its 13-year run.
Sheryl Johnston, artistic director and publicist of Story Week, said the tribute events are an unusual addition to the its roster.
“The reason we decided to do this is because both authors have really shaped the Chicago writing scene,” Johnston said. ”Algren wrote about the underdogs-the drug addicts, the homeless-and Terkel wrote about everyone. Both of them gave so many different people in this city a voice.”
Joe Meno, Fiction Writing Department faculty member and author of Hairstyles of the Damned, will host the tribute event for Nelson Algren in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St., on March 17 at 6 p.m.
There will be readings by Chicago authors, a discussion with Nelson Algren photographer Art Shay and a clip shown from Michael Caplan’s upcoming documentary, Algren.
The Terkel tribute will take place on March 16 at 6 p.m. in the Feinberg Theater at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies building, 610 S. Michigan Ave. Terkel’s friends and fellow writers Alex Kotlowitz, Donna Seaman and Bill Young will have a discussion about Terkel’s works prior to the scheduled readings.
“The Fiction Writing Department is always trying to help students from diverse backgrounds find a way to tell their stories,” said Randall Albers, chair of the Fiction Writing Department. “So it seemed particularly appropriate that we would pay tribute to these two authors who didn’t just tell one kind of story.”
This year’s literary festival, Story Week: Writing On the Edge, will also feature readings, panels and performances from acclaimed authors, students, faculty and artists.
The theme “Writing on the Edge” was inspired by the featured artists chosen for this year’s festival.
“We started thinking about writers who would be good for the festival-people like Francine Prose and Richard Price,” Albers said. “All wonderful writers, but we had to think, ‘What do they suggest to us?’ And it just appeared to us they were kind of edgy and writing about these different topics.”
Featured readers for 2009 will include Francine Prose, Lydia Millet, Nami Mun, Richard Price and Etgar Keret.
Story Week will also feature its ninth annual Literary Rock and Roll event at 6 p.m. on March 16 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St. The evening will include readings from Mun, Price and Millet; a comedy performance; book signings; and a live set by JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.
“Literary Rock and Roll is always great. It’s fun and engaging; it has almost a carnival-like atmosphere. It’s not just boring readings, it’s performance,” Johnston said. “That is why Story Week is so different from other literary events-it’s exciting.”
Student readings, panel discussions and workshops will be happening around campus every day of the festival.
The festival will close with a conversation and reading by Keret on March 20. Keret is hailed as one of Israel’s most radical writers, and has penned the popular books The Girl on the Fridge and The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God.
He is also the screenwriter of critically acclaimed films Wristcutters: A Love Story and Jellyfish, which he also directed. Jellyfish was recently awarded the Camera d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Keret is one of Israel’s hottest writers, we’re really happy to have him here,” Albers said.
All events for Story Week: Writing on the Edge are free and open to the public. For more information on featured writers and a full calendar of events, visit Colum.edu/StoryWeek.