Posts Tagged ‘2009: Historical Fiction’


Writers Recommend

09/10/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

With more than 40 writers scheduled to speak during our Seminar this January, it can be difficult for a reader to know where to start. Sure, there are the classics and prize-winners, like William Kennedy’s Ironweed and David Levering Lewis’s two-volume biography of W.E.B. DuBois; and recent books like Joyce Carol Oates’s Wild Nights! and Gore Vidal’s Selected Essays. But what of the hundreds you won’t have time for? The exquisite pastime of reading can suddenly grow so stressful!

With this in mind, we’ve asked our panelists which books they would recommend from among their own works and those of their peers. We begin this recurring feature with historians Eric Foner and Jill Lepore, and novelist and critic Thomas Mallon.

• Eric Foner has been president of each of the three major professional historical organizations: the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, and Society of American Historians. He told us about two of his books:
“Number one: The Story of American Freedom (1999): The title is meant to imply that freedom is both an actual history and a mythology in this country (for what is a story anyway?), which links perhaps to the theme of history and fiction.
Number two: Forever Free (2006): Because no period of American history is more mythologized or fictionalized in popular imagination than the Civil War and Reconstruction.”

• Thomas Mallon is an Ingram Merrill Award winner, and a regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review. In our recent interview, he revealed his favorites by fellow Session 2 panelists William Kennedy and Gore Vidal:
“Politics is done very badly– and not all that often– in American historical fiction. But William Kennedy’s Roscoe (2002), all about long-ago municipal machinations in Albany, is a terrific novel, better and more layered than The Last Hurrah (written by Edwin O’Connor in 1956), which I suppose would be its closest cousin. And I think Lincoln (2000) is the most artful of all Gore Vidal’s novels, a brilliant exercise in multiple viewpoints and tonal control. Vidal’s contribution to this whole genre is quite crucial and under-credited. He brought wit into American historical fiction– a quality it had been devoid of throughout the first half of the 20th century, when most of it was elephantine costume drama.”

• From Jill Lepore, chair of Harvard’s History and Literature Program and a regular contributor to The New Yorker whose novel, Blindspot, written jointly with panelist Jane Kamensky, is due out in December, we learned about two of her history books:
The Name of War (1998) is a history of a seventeenth-century war that’s also a meditation on how we write about war, scrutinizing what’s at stake in how war stories are told, what truths those stories uncover, and what truths they mask.
New York Burning (2005) is an inquiry into the ‘Great Negro Plot’ of 1741, in which New York City’s slaves were tried, and burned at the stake. It looks at the asymmetry of the historical record. Can coerced slave ‘confessions’ be trusted?”

Joyce Carol Oates Joins Session 2

09/03/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post
Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates
Photo credits, top to bottom: Juliet Van Otteren, Graeme Gibson, Jerry Bauer, Mary Cross, Marion Ettlinger

We are honored to announce that Joyce Carol Oates will join us as a special guest this January 2009 for Session 2 of Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth, our 27th annual Seminar. Oates’s readings and discussions during our 2007 event are memorable for many of us, and we enthusiastically welcome one of the great talents of our time back to the Seminar.

To call Oates prolific is akin to calling water wet. She is the author of more than 50 novels or novellas, more than 30 short story collections, a dozen collections of essays and nonfiction, several poetry collections, and several more collections of plays. She has published stories, essays, poems, and reviews in nearly every major (and minor) publication of the last 40 years; she has written psychological thrillers under the pseudonyms "Rosamond Smith" and "Lauren Kelly;" and an Oates book has been on The New York Times Notable Books of the Year list for 35 of the last 40 years. Oates has written about such diverse American icons as Emily Dickinson, Bob Dylan, Stephen King, Sylvia Plath, and extensively on the enigmatic boxer Mike Tyson, whose precipitous rise and squalid fall she covered in the 1980s and 1990s for publications including Life, The Village Voice, and Newsweek. In addition, she founded and edits The Ontario Review, serves as the Roger S. Berlind Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. She is a recipient of the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and the Prix Femina.

Oates’s most recent book, Wild Nights!, is a collection of short stories about the last days of five American writers. Based on letters, diaries, biographies, unpublished manuscripts, and their own canonical works, Oates creates haunting final chapters for Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. It is, wrote The New York Times, "a gem of a book … about creativity and age and the complicated, anxiety-ridden relationship between the two."

Oates joins William Kennedy, Marilynne Robinson, Barry Unsworth, Russell Banks, and others on the list of speakers scheduled for Session 2 this January 15-18 2009. Session 1 is already sold out, and we expect Session 2 will also sell out early. Click here to register or call 1-888-293-9291.

Plausible Presence:
a conversation with Thomas Mallon

09/02/2008  by Arlo Haskell  1 Comment

Thomas Mallon

Thomas Mallon is a novelist, essayist, critic, and former literary editor at GQ. He has received the Ingram Merrill Award for outstanding work as a writer, and is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. As the author of historical novels including Henry and Clara, Bandbox, and Dewey Defeats Truman, Mallon is known for richly imagined characters and situations set within crucial moments in United States history. As a critic, he regularly writes about new works of historical fiction; and a collection of his essays, In Fact: Essays on Writers and Writing, includes two important pieces on the genre, “Writing Historical Fiction” and “The Historical Novelist’s Burden of Truth.”

Mallon’s most recent novel is Fellow Travelers, an account of a Washington D.C. love affair between Hawkins Fuller, a handsome State Department official, and young Timothy Laughlin, a fervent anti-communist and Senate staffer. Through Laughlin and Fuller, we witness the so-called lavender scare of the 1950s, in which State Department employees suspected of homosexuality were fired as security risks; and are given a ringside seat for the sordid endgame of the Army-McCarthy hearings run by notorious Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In this installment of our ongoing interview series, Thomas Mallon talks about Fellow Travelers, the rumors of Senator McCarthy’s own homosexuality, the Obama-McCain election; and the current state of historical fiction, including works by Gore Vidal and William Kennedy, both of whom will join Mallon in January 2009 during our 27th annual Seminar, Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth.


Littoral: Are Hawkins Fuller and Tim Laughlin based on real people in any way? Why did you choose to cast these characters in a well-documented era in Washington?

Thomas Mallon: Fuller and Laughlin aren’t based on any particular historical figures. Both contain bits and pieces of people I’ve known in my own life, which makes them like the characters one finds being created by just about any novelist of the “non-historical” sort.

In this regard, though, one thing in particular interested me about Laughlin. When I started to make notes on him, the first thing I put down was “Date of birth: November 2, 1931″– exactly twenty years earlier than mine. I realized that in some ways I was going to be writing about what my own life might have been like had I been born two decades earlier.


As for putting him and Fuller into this well-documented era: in this respect, they fit in with a lot of the people in my novels– minor figures, invented or real (take Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris, from Henry and Clara), who get caught up in major historical dramas. The roles that Fuller and Laughlin play in actual events are sufficiently small that I don’t think their presence on the scene disconcerts well-informed students of the period, the kind of readers who actually know, say, Charles Potter and the other members of the McCarthy committee. Even to such readers the presence of a staffer like Tim would seem believable.

In any case, this has become my preferred avenue into history– the plausible presence of a small person who’s seeing big things.

L: How is Fellow Travelers different from your other work? Are the rumors of McCarthy’s homosexuality given more credence in your novel than in the historical record?

TM: Fellow Travelers is different mostly, I guess, in terms of subject matter. (The basic method and techniques are pretty much the same.) My novels had often contained a lot of politics, but homosexuality hadn’t before this one been more than a leitmotif (a couple of minor characters, like Frank Sherwood in Dewey Defeats Truman).

As for the McCarthy rumors: I suppose my book does give them more credence– or at least attention– than the historical record does, but there were certainly whisperings at the time about gay experiences McCarthy may have had from Wisconsin to the Wardman Park Hotel. His rather sudden marriage in middle age struck his detractors as suspicious.


It’s often been suggested that Roy Cohn had some sort of hold of McCarthy, whereas Fellow Travelers invents a situation in which it’s David Schine who has something on the senator. I don’t, of course, know the true nature of McCarthy’s sexuality. In the novel I portray him as somebody with a sloppy libido that’s governed by alcohol. He’s mostly homosexual but likely to grope anyone when he’s had too much to drink.

Rachel Kushner, Chantel Acevedo Added

08/31/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

We’re happy to announce the addition of two authors with new historical novels about Cuba to Session 2 of our Seminar this January 15-18. Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, is a portrait of the American colonies in pre-Revolutionary Cuba and their collapse in the face of revolutionary change, partly inspired by the experiences of her mother’s family, who lived in Oriente Province in the 1950s. It received the cover review in The New York Times Book Review and raves from Carolyn See in the Washington Post ("a pure treat from the cover to the very last page.") Kushner is a former editor at Grand Street and Bomb, a coeditor at Soft Targets, and has written for Artforum, The Believer, Fence, Cabinet, and Modern Painters, among other publications. (Also– the website for Telex, though Flash-heavy and therefore finicky, is an elegant confection of faded Cuban snapshots, snatches of text, a map, and a beautiful loop of piano music.

Chantel Acevedo’s first novel, Love and Ghost Letters, is set in Cuba from 1938 to the 1960s, and chronicles the haunted relationship between a daughter and her exiled father. Of it, Oscar Hijuelos has written "Love and Ghost Letters is enchanting; a heartfelt story. It tells volumes about the intimate life and loves of a family in pre-Castro Cuba. Along the way, it captures beautifully the atmosphere and emotions of a time which both Cuban-Americans and many an American reader will find both reminiscent and fulfilling. A great debut." Acevedo is a professor of English at Auburn University, and has had fiction published in American Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, and Cimarron Review, among others.

To register for Session 2 of the 27th annual Key West Literary Seminar, Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth, click here.

Curt Richter to Return with “Still and All”

08/27/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

If you attended the Seminar in January, you may remember Curt Richter, the Helsinki-based American photographer who seemed to be everywhere each night. He was in town through the generosity of The Studios of Key West, which made Richter their first ever artist-in-residence and hosted an exhibit at the Armory of his show, Faces and Stories: A Portrait of Southern Writers. In laudable Key West style, Richter managed to attend much of the Seminar and most of the parties while also working diligently each day on a new series of portraits.

In January 2009, we’ve just learned, Richter will return to TSKW to debut Still and All, the result of those Key West portrait sessions. The details are, as yet, hushed. However, you can see a few of the portraits here and rest assured that we’ll be collaborating in some way with the good people at TSKW for this second Richter-go-round. I spoke with Richter on the phone the other day, and asked him where he got the idea for the title:

"Still and All" came to me while re-reading a Walker Percy novel this summer– The Moviegoer. The protagonist begins a sentence with that superfluous preface, which I hadn’t heard anyone say for years. It’s out of fashion now, an old dialect. As a title, it worked perfectly. Why? I don’t know– I’m a moviegoer, I’ve always been a moviegoer, and these are still photographs. A lot of people begin a sentence with ‘uhh…’ or "like…" "Still and all" sounded a lot better.

Session 1, Workshops Full. #2 Still Open.

08/21/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

We are pleased to announce that Session 1 of our upcoming Seminar, Historical Fiction and the Search for Truth, is now full. With the list of speakers we’ve assembled, an early sellout comes as no surprise. Indeed, it is the reason we decided to make this January’s event a doubleheader. Tickets remain for Session 2, which will open on January 15 at the San Carlos Institute with a keynote address by Booker Prize winner Barry Unsworth. (Read our interview with Unsworth on Littoral.) Featured speakers include Pulitzer Prize winners Marilynne Robinson and William Kennedy; Andrew Carnegie biographer David Nasaw; Toussaint Louverture biographer Madison Smartt Bell; and a number of critically acclaimed, bestselling authors of historical fiction including Anchee Min, Thomas Mallon, Andrea Barrett, Russell Banks, and Francisco Goldman.

Three of our Writers’ Workshops are also sold out: Alan Cheuse; Alison Lurie and Edward Hower; and Mary Morris. Spaces are available for Writers’ Workshops with Billy Collins, Bich Minh Nguyen, Patricia O’Toole, Timothy Seldes, Porter Shreve, and Dara Wier.

We expect Session 2 and our workshops will also sell out. If you would like to register, please contact us at your earliest convenience. Click here to register online or to print out a form. Or call us at 1-888-293-9291.

Scaffolding for the Imagination:
a conversation with Geraldine Brooks

07/10/2008  by Arlo Haskell  3 Comments

Geraldine Brooks

Australian-born writer Geraldine Brooks is the author, most recently, of People of the Book (2008), a novel about the stories uncovered during the conservation of the sacred Hebrew text known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. Her previous novel, March (2005), was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. As a journalist for The Wall Street Journal in the 1980s and ’90s, she covered crises in the the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. Her husband of twenty-four years is fellow Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Horwitz. Both Brooks and Horwitz will join us in January 2009 for our twenty-seventh annual Seminar, Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth. Brooks will deliver the keynote address to open our first session.

Our conversation with Brooks begins with March, which tells the story of Captain March, known to readers of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women as the character of the father and husband who has left the family to fight in the Civil War. Brooks based her Captain March upon Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s real-life father, whose surviving letters and diaries reveal a close friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The fictional character of Captain March therefore develops alongside two founding myths of American history- the abolitionist cause during the Civil War and the intellectual currents of Concord, Massachusetts- while also providing an imagined backstory to a classic of American literature. The literary risks of such an imaginative weaving of truth and fiction are great. The reward of the Pulitzer, America’s top literary honor, rarely given to a foreign-born writer, is proof of her exceptional talent. Brooks talks about this book and her love for books; about Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone; the “Tony Test,” reading in the bath, and ordinary, everyday Geraldine.


Littoral: When you had finished with March, did you imagine it would meet with such success?

Geraldine Brooks: Of course not! You’d have to be delusional.

L: How did you feel about it, in that interim before public reception?

GB: I think with any book, there’s an odd period when you’ve had to let it go. You’ve pushed the deadline and your editor’s patience to the end, and you have to stop revising and tinkering. Then, alarmingly, it’s out of your hands. There’s a kind of nervous uncertainty: could I have done better? Will someone, anyone, want to read it?

L: In an interview with Dave Weich, you said, “As a reporter, if you don’t know the truth, you can’t write it, but in fiction you can make it up.” I think that “make it up” part bothers some readers of historical fiction. Have readers been duped, who believe they know the history better after reading historical fiction? How does historical fiction contribute to our understanding of history?


GB: It’s nothing to do with duping. It is the novelist’s job to imagine, and my implicit contract with the reader is clear enough: This is a novel; I hope you enjoy the fruits of my imagination. I think if you call it a novel, you can do what you like, but you need to explain later what it is that you did. I believe the least one can do is offer an afterword, setting out where the facts end and the fiction takes over.
Through the vehicle of story, I think it is possible to lead reluctant minds to consider our earlier selves. People who would not pick up a narrative history book will perhaps pick up a novel and find their interest engaged by predicaments from the past. I really believe in following the line of fact as far as it leads, to make a good strong scaffolding for the imaginative enterprise. Then, when you come to the place where that line of fact frays and disappears, I let imagination take over.

L: Your husband is a fellow Pulitzer-winner, and is also an author of a well-received book on the Civil War. We’re looking forward to having you here together in January. To what extent do your literary interests and convictions overlap? To what extent do they differ?

GB: We started out as newspaper reporters together, united in the service of fact. Tony continues to write factual books; he says I’ve “gone over to the dark side,” as he puts it, “making stuff up.” He’s an enthusiastic reader of fiction, though, so that makes him a great first reader for me. He’s very impatient– if a novel doesn’t grab him he won’t keep reading. That’s helpful to me: to see if my early drafts can pass the “Tony Test.” (more…)

William Kennedy’s Ironweed

07/04/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

Francis’s hands, as he looked at them now, seemed to be messengers from some outlaw corner of his psyche, artificers of some involuntary doom element in his life. He seemed now to have always been the family killer; for no one else he knew of in the family had ever lived as violently as he. And yet he had never sought that kind of life.

Francis Phelan is a man who believes his own hands have betrayed and destroyed him. He lives in an Albany peopled by ghosts, notably his son, Gerald’s, dead 13 days after birth from the broken neck sustained in falling from his father’s hands to the floor. And yet Phelan, the eloquent, violent, dissembling bum hero of William Kennedy’s great novel Ironweed (1983), is the master of these hands. His entire body, though rundown from decades of sleeping in the weeds and on the streets, retains the devastating grace which brought him the accolades of sportswriters and fans as a ballplayer alongside the likes of Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson. His first murder weapon is a stone the size and heft of a baseball, and he hurls it through the window of a trolley to impact its strikebreaking driver’s head with uncanny accuracy. His final victim’s death is delivered by the ash barrel of a baseball bat, "with a stroke that would have sent any pitch over any center-field fence in any ball park anywhere."

It is Kennedy’s distinct accomplishment in this book to have created Phelan as a sympathetic character, despite the murders committed by his hand, the willful abandonment of a wife and children, and the drunken cruelties which precipitate the deaths of his closest friends. Phelan is a thinker and a dreamer, and this is part of his allure; the Ptolomaic aside which concludes the book is the final instance of a life of deep and endearing reflection, a state of consciousness in which the dead live, board buses and trains, erect bleachers on the lawn to stare on Phelan and debate with him his acts against them. He considers his mistakes to be his greatest sins, and his premeditated sins to be the acts of a just "warrior, protecting a belief that no man could ever articulate, especially himself; but somehow it involved protecting saints from sinners, protecting the living from the dead." He is a man, finally, who has been failed by something more elemental than hands– by fate, and by fact.

Francis was now certain only that he could never arrive at any conclusions about himself that had their origin in reason. But neither did he believe himself incapable of thought. He believed he was a creature of unknown and unknowable quantities, a man in whom there would never be an equanimity of both impulsive and premeditated action.

William Kennedy’s Ironweed won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, a PEN-Faulkner Award, and was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. He join us this January, 2009, for the 27th Annual Key West Literary Seminar: Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth.

These hands belong to Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown. He lost the finger in an accident with farming-machinery as a child, and went on to an extraordinarily successful major league career from 1903-1916, winning more than twenty games six times and recording a 2.06 ERA, third best in history, over 481 games.

Rosenberg Heirs to Appear at Seminar

07/01/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

Michael and Ivy Meeropol have been added to the first session of our 2009 Seminar, Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth. The Meeropols are the son and granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the United States in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage in passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Their personal relationship to this controversial episode in American history has informed their professional work with an acute sense of what is at stake in the writing of histories and historical fictions.

Michael Meeropol edited The Rosenberg Letters (the complete prison correspondence of his parents), and co-wrote We Are Your Sons, The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg with his brother Robert. Michael Meeropol’s interest in how fiction illuminates "the truth" about historical events and figures has brought him into dialogue with writers of historical fiction including E.L. Doctorow, whose The Book of Daniel is a fictionalized account of the Rosenberg family. Meeropol is also the author of Surrender, How the Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution, and a regular commentator on economic and political issues for WAMC, the NPR affiliate in Albany, NY.

Ivy Meeropol is a producer and director of documentary films and television series, a screenwriter, a journalist, and a writer of fiction. She directed and produced Heir to An Execution (2003), a documentary film about the legacy of her grandparents, which premiered in the Documentary Competition of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. She also directed and produced The Hill (2007), a six-part series about Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) and his staff; and directed the feature-length documentary All About Abe, the story of Abe Pollin.

Click here for a complete list of this year’s speakers, with links to full biographical and media information.
Click here to register.

Intensity of Illusion:
a conversation with Barry Unsworth

06/28/2008  by Arlo Haskell  2 Comments

Barry Unsworth

Barry Unsworth was born in 1930 in Durham, England. He is the author of fifteen published novels and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Three of his books– Pascali’s Island (1980), Morality Play (1995), and Sacred Hunger (1992)– were shortlisted for Britain’s premier literary honor, the Man Booker Prize; Sacred Hunger won the Booker in 1993. Unsworth’s sixteenth book, Land of Marvels, a historical novel set in Mesopotamia on the eve of World War I, will be published in January, 2009. He will deliver the John Hersey Memorial Address at the Seminar on January 15. Unsworth lives today in rural Italy with Aira, his wife. In this installment of our ongoing interview series, Barry Unsworth talks about the effects of expatriate life, of aging, and the role historical fiction plays in understanding our past and our present.


Littoral: What are you working on now?

Barry Unsworth: I have a new novel in mind, but I haven’t started seriously working on it yet. I am at that very early– and very pleasant– stage, when the idea is exciting and the sense of potential very great, and there is none of that feeling of inadequacy that will come with the attempt to put the words down, an inadequacy in oneself and in the resources of language, experienced every time and always forgotten again. The novel will be set in contemporary Rome and will try to deal with some of the masks and mythologies of that extraordinary city in the course of its long life, and with the fortunes of a cosmopolitan group of Roman residents.
I have lived here in rural Italy for the last 16 years. It has affected me in certain ways– affected the way I write and what I write about, and the way I view the world. A beautiful country and likeable, highly gifted people, betrayed by their own history of disunity and the weakness of state institutions. Corruption, the abuse of power, intricate connections between politics, business and organized crime– I suppose you find these things everywhere, but you find them here in spectacular fashion.

L: As a novelist, you’ve often chosen historical settings over contemporary ones. Why do you choose to write historical fiction?


BU: I don’t think it has been so much a choice as a sort of gradual process determined by accidents of circumstance– like many things in life, I suppose. I spent most of the ’60s, when I was starting to try to write novels, living and working in Greece and Turkey. These are countries where the ancient past is interfused with the daily present, and I remember being struck with wonder at the constant sense of continuity and connection, the reminders that lie in wait for you at every turn. The seed was there, I think, but I didn’t start writing historical fiction until much later. Pascali’s Island (1980), which was my sixth novel, was the first to be set in the past.
Nowadays I go to Britain relatively rarely and for short periods; in effect, I have become an expatriate. The result has been a certain loss of interest in British life and society and a very definite loss of confidence in my ability to register the contemporary scene there– the kind of things people say, the styles of dress, the politics etc.– with sufficient subtlety and accuracy. So I have turned to the past. The great advantage of this, for a writer of my temperament at least, is that one is freed from a great deal of surface clutter. One is enabled to take a remote period and use it as a distant mirror (to borrow Barbara Tuchman’s phrase), and so try to say things about our human condition– then and now– which transcend the particular period and become timeless.

Announcing David Levering Lewis

06/26/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, David Levering Lewis, will join us for the 2009 Seminar: Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth. Lewis is the Julius Silver University Professor at New York University, specializing in 20th-century U.S. social history. He is the author of a two-volume life-and-times of W.E.B. DuBois, W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 (1993), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, the Bancroft Prize, and the Francis Parkman Prize; and W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963
(2000), which also won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. He is the first author to win two Pulitzer Prizes for biography for back-to-back volumes.

Professor Lewis has received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (twice), the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the American Academy in Berlin. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. He is a former trustee of the National Humanities Center, a former commissioner of the National Portrait Gallery, a former senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and was president of the Society of American Historians, 2002-’03.

Lewis joins fellow historians Eric Foner and Jill Lepore, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks, Booker Prize-winner Barry Unsworth, and iconoclast Gore Vidal for what promises to be an invigorating, weekend-long debate on the diverse contributions historians and novelists make to the writing of history. Click here to register.

Calvin Baker Confirmed for 2nd Session

06/20/2008  by Arlo Haskell  Comment on this Post

We are happy to announce the addition of Calvin Baker to the second session of our 2009 Seminar: Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth. Calvin Baker was born in Chicago, attended the University of Chicago Lab Schools, and graduated from Amherst College. At the age of twenty-three, he published Naming the New World, which Publishers Weekly called “brilliant,” saying Baker “proves himself a powerful new male voice in African American literature.” With his second novel, Once Two Heroes, and his third, Dominion, Baker has continued to garner acclaim from major media, including USA Today, The Village Voice, and GQ. Dominion was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Award, as well as one of New York Newsday‘s Best Books of the Year. In 2005, Esquire Magazine named Baker one of the best young writers in America.

Click here for our complete roster of panelists.
Click here to register.

Photograph of Calvin Baker © Henry Leutwyler

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