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Chapman University announces lineup for annual author festival

January 10, 2011

Writer-in-residence Assaf Gavron among featured writers in upcoming series.

Chapman University’s John Fowles Literary Series, the university’s acclaimed annual festival of visiting, internationally recognized novelists, poets and playwrights, will focus on famous Italian writers this year, with a special talk by an Israeli-born novelist who is the university’s 2011 writer-in-residence.

The series is sponsored by Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Los Angeles, Associated Students of Chapman University, Citrus City Grille, and Chapman’s Department of English and Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Chapman’s John Fowles Literary Series, now in its 14th year, was named in honor of the late author of “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” who appeared in the first year of the series.  The series has presented talks by such well-known literary figures as Sir Salman Rushdie, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Elizabeth George, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Luisa Valenzuela, David Antin and many others.

The author talks – all free and open to the public – will be held in the Henley Reading Room on the second floor of Chapman’s Leatherby Libraries.  For more information, the public can call 714-532-6026.

Here’s the lineup:

Monday, March 7 at 7 p.m.

Dacia Maraini

Dacia Maraini, daughter of a Sicilian princess and the longtime companion of novelist Alberto Moravia, is a world-acclaimed author and playwright.  She has won many awards for her work, including the Formentor Prize for “L’età del malessere” (“The Age of Discontent,” 1963); the Premio Fregene for “Isolina” (1985); the Premio Campiello and Book of the Year Award for “La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa” (“The Silent Duchess,” 1990); and the Premio Strega for “Buio” (1999).  She co-founded the Teatro del Porcospino, devoted to producing new Italian works, and established Rome’s feminist experimental theatre La Maddalena.  Her play “Mary Stuart” has been performed in New York and on stages around the world, and her other plays continue to be translated and widely performed.

Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

Assaf Gavran – Chapman University’s Writer-in-Residence

The son of English immigrants to Israel, Assaf Gavron was born in a small village near Jerusalem in 1968, and currently lives in Berlin.  He is this year’s Shusterman Foundation Writer-in-Residence at Chapman University.  Gavron has published four novels (“Ice,” “Moving,” “Almost Dead” and “Hydromania”), a collection of short stories (“Sex in the Cemetery”), and a non-fiction collection of Jerusalem falafel-joint reviews (“Eating Standing Up”). His English translation of “Almost Dead” was published in 2010.  Among the prizes he has won are the Israeli Geffen award for the novel “Hydromania,” and the prestigious DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship in Germany.

Monday, April 4 at 7 p.m.

Erri De Luca

Erri De Luca, recently named “writer of the decade” by the influential newspaper Corriere della Sera, was born in Naples, Italy in 1950.  His first book, published in 1989, was “Non Ora, Non Qui” (“Not Now, Not Here”). Many more books have followed and have become best sellers throughout Europe and in the U.S.  Self-taught in several languages, including ancient Hebrew and Yiddish, De Luca has translated several books of the Bible into Italian and explored various aspects of Judaism as a non-believer.  He writes regularly for various Italian newspapers and magazines, lives in a remote cottage in the countryside outside Rome, and regularly pursues his passion for mountain climbing.

Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m.

Paolo Giordano

Paolo Giordano, born in Turin in 1982, is a professional physicist.  His first novel, “La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi” (“The Solitude of Prime Numbers”), took Italy by storm, sold more than a million copies, and won the nation’s most illustrious book award, the Premio Strega, in 2008.  The book, which has been translated into English and more than 30 other languages, tells the tale of a man and woman, Mattia and Alice, both traumatized in their youth in ways which leave them unable to relate normally to the world around them.  Though they are drawn to each other, timing and awkwardness keep their relationship on tenuous ground.  Giordano’s spare yet beautiful prose asks whether there are those among us who, like prime numbers, are destined always to be alone and apart.

Monday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

Giuseppe Conte

Italian poet, novelist and translator Giuseppe Conte published his debut book of poetry, “La Parola Innamorata” in 1978. His follow-up, 1988’s “La Stagione,” was awarded the Montale Prize.  His other poetry books include “L’Ultimo Aprile Bianco” (“The Last White April”), “Dialogo del Poeta e del Messaggero” (“Dialogue Between the Poet and the Messenger”) and “Canti d’Oriente e d’Occidente (“Songs of the East and the West”).  His novels include “Il Terzo Ufficiale” (“The Third Officer”) and “La Casa della Onde” (“The House of the Waves”). Conte has translated many English works into Italian, including those of Percy Shelley, D.H. Lawrence, Walt Whitman and William Blake.

Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m.

Giorgio Pressburger

Born in Budapest in 1937, Giorgio Pressburger does not write in his native Hungarian but in his adoptive Italian, and has often reflected in his talks and writings upon this choice of language. He left Hungary after the Russian invasion in 1956, and settled in Italy, where he studied biology in Rome and worked in theatre and film. His novel “The Law of White Spaces” won the Independent Foreign Fiction Award in 1992.  His other works include the novel “Teeth and Spies” and the short story collection “Snow and Guilt.”  His most recent novel, “Nel Regno Oscuro” (2008), inspired by Dante’s Inferno, describes a journey to hell which is also a meditation on the 20th century and Pressburger’s personal losses.

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