Coming up next on the Southwestern calendar is the annual Writer’s Voice Series which this year will be featuring award winning novelist and short story author Tobias Wolff. This lecture series is sponsored by the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center and is a great way to bring literature closer to Southwestern students.
Wolff will be giving a lecture titled “Saved by Stories: This Writer’s Life” at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, in the Alma Thomas Theater of the Sarofim Fine Arts Building. His lecture will be followed by a reception and book signing in the Caldwell Carvey Theater.
The Writer’s Voice Series was started by Lynne Brody, Dean of Library Services in 2000 in order “to give SU students the opportunity to meet and hear from renowned writers,” said Dana Hendrix, head of the Collection Development and Acquisition in the library.
In regards to who gets invited to come to Southwestern for the Writer’s Voice Series, Hendrix said, “We look for authors from a variety of literary genres so that writers of fiction, plays, poetry, memoir, short story, film, etc., are represented over time. We only bring authors who are interested in meeting with students, and they always stay on campus two to three days. They are always interviewed by a student, and they attend two classes and a student lunch or coffee in addition to giving the public lecture and the book signing.”
Wolff will be the tenth author to participate in the lecture series. Past guests have included such big-timers as Margaret Atwood and Michael Chabon. The other speakers include Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Carlos Fuentes, Robert Pinsky, Amy Tan and last year’s Azar Nafisi.
The program “works to enhance students’ reading and study of literary works both in and outside of classes,” according to the library’s website, and “brings together undergraduates and authors of national renown for intellectual exchange centered on the authors’ works and the issues they raise.”
Wolff has actually been on the “short list” of potential authors for quite a few years, but because the authors have such busy schedules and the program requires a few days time commitment, each year’s author must be contracted long before the actual date of their event.
According to Hendrix, Wolff “was chosen for his command over the short story format, his extensive body of work and for his interest in meeting with our students during his visit. We in the library also enjoyed the fact that Prof. Wolff’s novel ‘Old School’ focuses on authors’ visits to a particular school, and the effect those visits have on the students.”
Wolff’s resume includes three books, “This Boy’s Life,” which was turned in to a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro, “Old School,” and “In Pharaoh’s Army,” which is a memoir. He has also written several collections of stories, a short story entitled “The Barracks Thief” and has edited a few anthologies.
Most of Wolff’s childhood was spent in Pennsylvania before he joined the army and became a paratrooper in Vietnam. When he got back to the states, Wolff worked numerous jobs until he was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University in 1975. Wolff currently works at Stanford University as the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor in the Humanities.
Wolff’s work has won numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Awards for Excellence in the Short Story, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The lecture is free to Southwestern students, staff, and faculty as well as the general public, but you must reserve your ticket. Reservations can be made on the library’s website by filling out a quick information sheet and can be picked up at the Circulation Desk in the library.