2009 Pulitzer Prize winner Strout tells students sense of place is "huge"
April 16, 2010
Small towns and the people who populate them are the stock-in-trade of Elizabeth Strout's fiction. The author of Olive Kitteridge – which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction – and two other novels came to campus April 15 to give a reading and a Q&A.
"I've always had a low-boiling nostalgia for small towns," said Strout, who grew up in small New England towns but has lived in – and "loved" -- New York City for the past 25 years.
During the Q&A, Strout discussed her award-winning novel as well as her writing process for an audience made up primarily of Writing, Literature and Publishing students and faculty.
The main character, Olive Kitteridge, is a cantankerous retired high-school teacher living in the tiny fictitious town of Crosby, Maine. She figures in each of the stories that make up Olive Kitteridge, which is a novel told in stories.
"The sense of place was huge – almost as significant as Olive," said Strout. "The town became the petri dish out of which Olive sprung."
Audience members were curious about the unusual format of the book. Strout explained, "I always understood that Olive was too much to [treat] in a traditional, linear kind of way. She was more of an episodic type of fictional experience."
Strout performed guest-editor duties for the Spring 2010 issue of the Emerson-based literary journal Ploughshares.
The Atlantic Monthly praised Strout as "the possessor of an irresistibly companionable, peculiarly American voice: folksy, poetic, but always as precise as a shadow on a brilliant winter day." Her two previous novels, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were both New York Times bestsellers. She has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, Orange Prize, and National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Redbook, and other publications. Born and raised in New England, Strout now teaches in a low-residency writing program in Charlotte, N.C.
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Professor Steve Yarbrough has been elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and, in addition, will receive the 2015 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction this spring from the same organization.
Current MFA Jennifer Crystal recently signed a book deal with Belfort & Bastion for her memoir Et Voilà: One Traveler's Journey from Foreigner to Francophile. The publisher has a target launch date of Jan. 1.
WLP alum and writer Thomas Page McBee's memoir Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man was named on Publisher's Weekly's "Best Books of 2014."
Greg Nichols (MFA '11) released his first book, Striking Gridiron, A Town's Pride and a Team's Shot at Glory During the Biggest Strike in American History. The book was named a Junior Library Guild Fall 2014 Selection.
Lecturer Tamera Marko's writing collective with Emerson maintenance workers from Latin America and undergraduates presented a bilingual presentation: "Proyecto Carrito II: When the Student Receives an 'A' and the Worker Gets Fired: Driving our Own Narrative" at the Conference on Rhetoric and Composition.
Recent MA in Publishing & Writing alumni collaborated to launch a new literary genre journal called Strangelet. Alumni include Executive Editor Casey Brown (MA ’13), Managing Editor Leah Thompson (MA ’12), Production Editor Franco Alvarado (MA ’13), and Creative Director Chandra Asar (MA ’12).
WLP Professor Megan Marshall and the emersonWRITES program participate in the launch and unveiling of Boston as the country's first Literary Cultural District.
Michelle Bailat-Jones (MFA '05) won the inaugral Christopher Doheny award for her novel Fog Island Mountains. The award recognizes a book-lenth work exploring the experience of serious illness and includes a $10,000 prize and publication and promotion of the book.