Rachel Kushner Next in Raymond Carver Reading Series
Rachel Kushner, a two-time finalist for the National Book Award and a finalist for Great Britain’s inaugural Folio Prize, is the next writer in the spring 2014 Raymond Carver Reading Series at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, in Gifford Auditorium. A question-and-answer session will precede the reading from 3:45-4:30 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in SU’s paid lots.
Kushner’s most recent novel, “The Flamethrowers” (Scribner, 2013) is about Reno, a young artist, and her life in New York and Rome in the mid-1970s, and drew numerous enthusiastic reviews. The New Yorker praised the novel as “scintillatingly alive, and also alive to artifice.” It “manifests itself as a pure explosion of now,” while Kushner also “constantly entwines the invented with the real, and she often uses the power of invention to give her fiction the authenticity of the reportorial, the solidity of the historical …”
She “can really write,” The New York Times said in a review. “Her prose has a poise and wariness and moral graininess that puts you in mind of … Robert Stone and Joan Didion.” Booklist called the novel “astringent social critique” and said Kushner “has forged an incandescently detailed, cosmopolitan and propulsively dramatic tale of creativity and destruction.”
“The Flamethrowers” was also named a Top Ten Book of 2013 by the New York Times Book Review and one of Time magazine’s top 10 fiction books. It was also named one of eight titles on the inaugural shortlist for the Folio Prize, open to English-language fiction writers who published a book last year in Great Britain.
Kushner’s debut novel, “Telex from Cuba,” (Scribner, 2008) was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the California Book Award and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book.
“Telex from Cuba” draws on Kushner’s family history as it takes on big themes of race, class, colonialism and human relationships. The story is set amid Cuba’s 1950s sugarcane fields and the comfortable homes of the expatriates who run the United Fruit Company. “Multilayered and absorbing … Studded with illuminating images …. Kushner has fashioned a story that will linger like a whiff of decadent Colony perfume,” said a cover review in The New York Times Book Review.
In a 2013 interview with The National Book Foundation, Kushner describes the difference between writing novels and nonfiction. The novel “employs the unconscious, perhaps as fully as is possible, given our lack of access to that subterranean world of ourselves,” she said. “The novel takes instinct and knowledge and sensibility and makes of it something new, newly visible.” Nonfiction, on the other hand, “doesn’t leave the terrain of what can be inferred from research materials.”
Kushner’s fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Believer, Artforum and Bookforum. She is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow. Kushner taught a graduate course on Proust at Syracuse University as a visiting writer in the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program in fall 2013.
SU’s reading series is named for Raymond Carver, the great short story writer and poet who taught at SU in the 1980s and died in 1988, and is presented by the Creative Writing Program in The College of Arts and Sciences.
The series will continue with the following authors. Further information is available by calling 315-443-2174.
March 27: Jim Shepard is the author of six novels, including “Project X” (Knopf, 2004) and four story collections, including “You Think That’s Bad” (Knopf, 2011) and “Like You’d Understand, Anyway” (Knopf, 2007). His short stories have appeared in outlets that include Harper’s, McSweeney’s, the Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker and Granta. He teaches at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.
Shepard will visit campus as the Richard Elman Visiting Writer. The Richard Elman Visiting Writer is supported by a gift from Leonard Elman in honor of his late brother Richard. In addition to the Raymond Carver event, Shepard will conduct a seminar for M.F.A. students and critique their work.
April 16: Brooks Haxton G’81 is the author of eight books of original poems and translations from the French and ancient Greek. His books include “They Lift Their Wings to Cry” (Knopf, 2008) and “Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms” (Knopf, 2004). He is translator for “Selected Poems” by Victor Hugo (Penguin Classics, 2002). His forthcoming book, “Fading Hearts on the River” (Counterpoint, May 13, 2014), follows his son Isaac’s unlikely career as a poker player. Haxton teaches English in The College of Arts and Sciences.
April 23: Ellen Bryant Voigt is the author of several poetry collections, including “Headwaters: Poems” (Norton, 2013), “Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006” (Norton, 2007) and “Shadow of Heaven” (Norton, 2002). Voigt served as the Vermont state poet from 1999 to 2003.