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Bates alumna among authors to read for Language Arts Live

EDITOR’S NOTE: The appearance by novelist Paul LaFarge described below has been rescheduled for May 13.

Three established novelists, including the Bates alumna who wrote the acclaimed debut The Convalescent, read from their work in March and April in Bates College’s Skelton Lounge, Chase Hall, 56 Campus Ave.

The readings are part of Bates’ Language Arts Live series of literary events. Sponsored by the Bates English department, the programs in environmental studies and Spanish, the Humanities Fund, the Learning Associates Program and the John Tagliabue Poetry Fund, they are open to the public at no cost. For more information, please contact this eosucha@bates.edu.

James Hannaham, author of God Says No (McSweeney’s, 2009), reads from and discusses his work at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 4. “God Says No” follows gay African-American protagonist Gary Gray in his return to his home state of Florida as he struggles to define his own identity. In a review of the novel, the Austin Chronicle wrote that Hannaham’s prose, characterized by its “impressive discipline,” was what allowed for “such a thorough inhabitation of his character … There is no outsider salvation here, merely the small, funny tribulations of an American life.”

Hannaham’s short stories have appeared in the journals The Literary Review, Open City, One Story and Nerve. A recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center, Hannaham teaches creative writing at Pratt Institute.

Bates alumna Jessica Anthony reads from her work at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 18. Her debut novel, The Convalescent (McSweeney’s, 2009), was selected as an Editor’s Choice by the San Francisco Chronicle and appears on the American Library Association’s 2010 Notable Book List of Outstanding Fiction.

The Convalescent focuses on Rovar Pfliegman, a Hungarian meatseller in Virginia who lives in his portable meatselling shop: a bus. Integrating the stories of his Hungarian ancestors into Pfliegman’s own, the tale brings together past and present.

The San Francisco Chronicle called her work a dance “between then and now, painting history’s and Rovar’s unusual tragedies with traces of sympathy, shock and sadness, but mostly humor and resignation. . . . He belongs in the bus the same way his ancestors belonged on the sidelines of history, numbers dwindling … until there is only one Pfliegman left, Rovar, who, faced with extinction, instead finds himself reborn in the most awkwardly beautiful of ways.”

Anthony’s stories have appeared in anthologies such as Best New American Voices and McSweeney’s New American Writing. A member of the Bates class of 1996, she is a lecturer in English at the college.

Writer and critic Paul LaFarge discusses his work at 4:15 p.m., Monday, April 5. LaFarge is the author of The Facts of Winter (McSweeney’s, 2005), Haussman, or the Distinction (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001) and The Artist of the Missing (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999).

A recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Macdowell Colony, LaFarge is the 2005 winner of the Bard College Fiction Prize and the winner of the California Book Award for The Artist of the Missing. He has taught creative writing at Wesleyan and Columbia.

The Facts of Winter and Haussman place LaFarge on the perimeter of the tale, purporting that he acts as a mere translator for obscure French writer and minimalist “Paul Poissel.” In an interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, LaFarge said that Poissel “came into strange existence a long time ago. I don’t remember exactly how. But I thought, ‘God, it would be great to invent a minor French poet!’ “



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