Chestertown, MD — Award-winning novelist Nuruddin Farah, widely considered the most important living African writer, arrives in Chestertown, Maryland this week for an unprecedented four-week visit residency at the Rose O'Neill Literary House at Washington College.
Farah is the first-ever PEN World Voices Festival/Washington College Fellow in International Letters, a program created together by the PEN American Center, the premier literary and human rights organization, and Washington College's Rose O'Neill Literary House. The fellowship will be offered each year to a distinguished participant in the famed PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. The 2008 festival kicks off April 29 in New York City.
"It's rare that an international writer gets the chance to live and write in an idyllic 18th century American town," says Rose O'Neill Literary House director Joshua Wolf Shenk, explaining the appeal of the partnership with PEN. "And it's even more rare that the citizens of such a small town have the chance to engage intimately with such an eminent writer from abroad." Farah's residency is co-sponsored by Washington College's Cater Society of Junior Fellows and Goldstein Program in Public Affairs.
Born in Somalia in 1945, Farah was forced to flee his home region in 1963 and now lives in South Africa. Farah's acclaimed novels—including the trilogies Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship and Blood in the Sun—tell the stories of his homeland, of Diaspora, and of the struggle for dignity, identity and community. The New York Review of Books has praised Farah as "one of the most sophisticated voices in modern fiction." "Nuruddin Farah," says Leonard Lopate, "has not only been hailed at the most important African writer in the last 25 years. He is believed by many to be among the great writers of the world."
Farah's novels have been translated into 17 languages and have won numerous awards. He was named the 1998 Laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, described by the New York Times as "the most prestigious award after the Nobel."
Farah will share insights on the writer's craft, the writing life, and his life of engagement with the culture and politics of Africa. He will introduce himself to Washington College on Thursday April 3, at 7 p.m., in an event sponsored by the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, entitled "From Somalia to South Africa to the Eastern Shore: A Conversation With Nuruddin Farah," at Hynson Lounge.
On Thursday, April 10, at Hynson Lounge, the acclaimed author will lecture before the Goldstein Program in Public Affairs. And on April 17, the entire community is invited to share an evening with Farah at the Rose O'Neill Literary House. Coffee and dessert will be served at 7 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7:30 p.m. All Farah's presentations are free and open to the public.
Farah's residency comes amid two significant events at the venerable Rose O'Neill Literary House: the official re-unveiling of the newly restored and renovated writers' hub and salon; and the two-month long Shelter Festival of the Arts, a multi-disciplinary celebration being presented by the Literary House and the arts faculty of Washington College. Farah's April 17 presentation will close the Shelter Festival, which has brought a Russian-born video artist, a New York hip hop theater star, and a Cambodian arts ensemble to campus.
The Rose O'Neill Literary House is also a co-sponsor of Farah's appearances at the PEN World Voices Festival, which includes a presentation on "Writing Place, Finding Refuge," on May 1, at 7 p.m., at the Brooklyn Public Library.
March 25, 2008