Chestertown, MD — Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley will kick off the annual Sophie Kerr Weekend with a reading at Norman James Theatre on Friday, March 28, at 4 p.m.
Smiley, who holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, is the author of 11 novels, includingA Thousand Acres, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1992. She also is the author of four books of nonfiction, including Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (2005). Her essays have been published inVogue, The New Yorker, Harper's, the New York Times, The Nation and many other publications.
Smiley's latest novel, Ten Days in the Hills, was published in 2007 by Knopf/Random House. A re-imagining of Boccaccio's Decameron set among the Hollywood crowd in the opening days of the Iraq War in 2003, Ten Days in the Hills has enjoyed universal acclaim.
"The book is generating early buzz," observed The Wall Street Journal. In a starred review,Publishers Weekly hailed the hot new novel as a "scintillating tale... Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters ... with warmth and seriousness." The Philadelphia Inquirer praises the author for "delivering a Tinseltown classic." The Los Angeles Times Book Review declared the novel "a blazing farce, a fiery satire of contemporary celebrity culture and a rich, simmering meditation on the price of war and fame and desire." The Times U.K. called it a "highly entertaining yet thoughtful examination of postmillenial America."
Dubbed "the reigning master of social satire" by Elle magazine, Smiley received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006.
Held every March at Washington College, the Sophie Kerr Weekend gives a group of high school-age writers a chance to experience the College's renowned creative writing program through readings, seminars and small-group workshops with visiting authors and faculty members.
The Sophie Kerr Weekend also honors the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has enriched Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to Washington College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor"—the famed Sophie Kerr Prize—and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships and to help defray the costs of student publications.
Admission to Jane Smiley's March 28 presentation is free and open to the public.
March 11, 2008