The University kicked off its 15th Annual Literary Festival Thursday, Jan. 31.

Beginning the semester-long festival was the National Book Award finalist and Guggenheim Fellowship award winner, Salvatore Scibona.  Currently, Scibona administers the writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.  He and four other notable authors and poets comprise the spring semester event.

In union with the University’s English course titled “Authors On and Off the Page” for aspiring writers and publishers, the event includes lectures, readings and a book signing for each writer.  Students from the class meet the author in class and attend the event to gain advice and experiences from the distinguished literary figures.

Author of a novel titled “The End,” Scibona was named to the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of writers to watch and was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Also in his young career, he was named a winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library.

As a fiction writer and graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe and of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Scibona has appeared in multiple prominent sources including the New York Times, the New Yorker and Best New American Voices.  In addition, he won a Pushcart Prize and an O. Henry Award, thus allowing his work to appear in “The Pushcart Book of Short Stories: The Best Stories from a Quarter-Century of the Pushcart Prize.”

This spring, the University will host four other distinguished writers including the poet Diane Gilliam Fisher, fiction writer Claire Vaye Watkins, poet Mary O’Malley and fiction writer Junot Díaz.

On Feb. 13, notable poet Gilliam will appear on campus.  Writer of “Kettle Bottom,” Gilliam is the winner of the 2004 Intro Award Perugia Press and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council in 2003.  Additionally, she holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and a Ph. D. in romance languages and literature from the Ohio State University.

On Feb.  28, distinguished fiction writer Watkins, author of the recently published short story, Battleborn, will be on University turf.  An assistant professor at Bucknell University as well as the co-director of a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers called the Majave School, Watkins brings a plethora of stories and essays.  Appearing in Best of the Southwest 2013, Best of West 2011, Glimmer Train, One Story, Granta and The Paris Review, Watkins has received fellowships from the Writers’ Conference at Sewanee and Bread Loaf.  She holds an MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow.

On March 21, prominent poet and the visiting Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies, Mary O’Malley will appear at the University.  As a native to Ireland, O’Malley received her degree from the University College, Galway.  Her work “A Consideration of Silk” along with six other books have been translated into many languages.

Finally, the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle award recipient, Junot Díaz, will arrive at the University on April 16 to conclude the Literary Festival.  His critically acclaimed novels, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” “Drown” and “This is How You Lose Her” exhibit his force in fiction writing.  As a New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award Finalist, Díaz is the winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship and PEN/O. Henry Award. Additionally, he is the cofounder of Voices of Our Nation Workshop and the fiction editor at Boston Review.

Free and open to the public, the festival is hosted by the department of  English in the College of Arts and Sciences in Connelly Center.

The event is co-sponsored by Irish Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Africana Studies, Falvey Memorial Library,  The Honors Program, Villanova Writing Center and Modern Language and Literature.


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