Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Salon: New York State Writers Institute

Confession: When I was offered a job to stay in Albany this semester, I was thrilled for many reasons, both personally and professionally. As a book nerd, however, there was one reason I was most excited to stay in Albany was to have another semester of New York State Writers Institute Visiting Writers events to attend. Then, they actually announced the slate of writers coming to Albany this spring: Julie Orringer, Karen Russell, Gary Shteyngart, Susan Choi and Maureen Dowd. Seriously.

The Invisible Bridge (Vintage Contemporaries)Swamplandia!
Thursday, February 10, 2011: Julie Orringer and Karen Russell
I've been intending to read Julie Orringer's debut novel (she had a collection of short stories, How to Breathe Underwater, published in 2004) since it was published last May. I even pre-ordered it on my Kindle. Karen Russell's debut novel, Swamplandia! is one of the most anticipated releases of spring (she also has a short story collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves). She's also one of The New Yorker's 20 Under 40. In what I hope won't be a repeat of The Invisible Bridge, I have pre-ordered Swamplandia! for my Kindle too (it will be published February 1, 2011.) To see either of these women is amazing, but to see both together is even more fantastic.

Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel
Thursday, February 17, 2011: Gary Shteyngart
Gary Shteyngart is also one of The New Yorker's 20 Under 40. Mr. Nomadreader read Absurdistan when it first came out and really enjoyed it. Like The Invisible Bridge, I bought Super Sad True Love Story for my Kindle shortly after it came out (thanks to birthday Amazon giftcards from my brother.) I confess, I may be more interested in Shteyngart as a person than in reading his books. He's an author I think I should read because people I think are cool enjoy his work. He's an intriguing writer, and I'm looking forward to this novel (I really enjoyed its excerpt in The New Yorker), but I'm most looking forward to hearing him speak.

BushworldAre Men Necessary?: When Sexes CollideThursday, March 10, 2011: Maureen Dowd
Although Maureen Dowd is only my third most favorite New York Times columnist (Gail Collins and Paul Krugman, who came to campus last year, edge her out), I absolutely adored her 2005 collection of essays, Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide, and thoroughly adore her column. Her appearance is billed as a reading/discussion, and I'm curious as to what she will read and what we will discuss, but it's sure to be entertaining. Could she have a new book coming out?

American Woman: A NovelA Person of Interest: A NovelThe Foreign Student: A Novel
Thursday, April 14, 2011: Susan Choi
I've never read any of Susan Choi's work, but I believe I owned both American Woman (a Pulitzer Prize finalist) and The Foreign Student for years (yes, these authors share a trend of me owning their novels without reading them.) Choi's appearance will be at RPI in conjunction with their McKinney Writing Contest, but it is still a welcome excuse to finally read at least one of her novels.

Check out the full schedule for the spring 2011 Visiting Writers Series. Their video archive is pretty impressive too.

Also this spring at UAlbany: Post Secret! The exhibit opened January 19th and will be open through February 11. Post Secret creator Frank Warren is doing a presentation and book signing on February  too.

Today I'm reading: The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I'm hoping to finish this expansive, lovely novel tonight in preparation for her February 10th appearance.

Coming up on the blog this week:

  • a review of True Grit, the Coen Brothers version
  • a review of A History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  • a new novel from one of my favorite authors as my Waiting on Wednesday pick
  • a review of Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, the 1997 Orange Prize winner
  • a review of the new British film, Made in Dagenham, about the 1968 strike for equal rights
  • a review of Hamlet as part of my quest to read 12 Shakespeare plays in 2011
  • my predictions for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 30, 2011
Now tell me: which New York State Writers Institute excites you the most?

As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you!


  1. Wow this sounds like a great event - such fun!

  2. I used to work those events selling books for the Book House! This is one of the best lineups I've seen for the series. Makes me sad I'm no longer in the Albany area. Enjoy!!

  3. This is one amazing lineup. I would love to see Karen Russell and John Crowley and V.S. Ramachandran and all those poets!

  4. so many of these books look good. i am especially looking forward to the Invisible Bridge. This sounds like a fabulous event.

  5. OMG I wish I could get to these events! I'd love to see Julie Orringer- I LOVED the invisible bridge. lucky you! :-)

  6. I am looking forward to your review of Fugitive Pieces - it has been on my bookshelf for years!

  7. Oh how cool!!!

    I've been hearing all this good stuff about Swamplandia ... it sounds like the "it" book of 2011. I'm very curious to read it.

  8. I've never read Susan Choi's books either and have two of her books on my TBR, haha!

  9. That is a wonderful slate of author events :)
    You have me curious about your Waiting on Wednesday pick!

  10. Oh, what a fantastic selection: I would attend them all. But I'd be especially intrigued by Karen Russell; I loved her short story in The New Yorker 20/40 lineup.

  11. Have you started Super Sad True Love Story yet? I was thinkng of pitching it to my book club tonight but they are so darn picky.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!