Email to a friend
Four prize-winning authors taking
part in U. of I. series that begins Feb. 8
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
Four award-winning authors will visit the University of Illinois early
this year to read from their works, talk about their craft and meet
future writers and their professors in the university’s Creative
One of the authors is Dave Eggers, who attended Illinois in the late
1980s and early ’90s and earned his bachelor’s degree in
journalism in 2002.
Eggers has been well known in the literary world for more than a decade.
“A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” (2000), a memoir
with fictional elements, quickly became a best-seller and was a finalist
for a Pulitzer Prize in the general non-fiction category. The memoir
was praised for its originality, idiosyncratic self-referencing and
for several innovative stylistic elements.
Eggers also has written traditional non-fiction, novels, short stories
and children’s books, and has served as an editor or contributor
to scores of publishing outlets.
He will read from his work at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the Authors Corner
of the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St., Champaign, site of
all the talks, which are free and open to the public.
The four guests are taking part in the Creative Writing Program’s
Spring 2007 Carr Visiting Authors Series, held each semester to showcase
up-and-coming and established American writers.
Eggers’ first novel, “You Shall Know Our Velocity,”
was published in 2002; an expanded and revised version was released
as “Sacrament” the next year, and retitled “You Shall
Know Our Velocity!” for its Vintage imprint distribution.
He has since written a collection of short stories, “How We Are
Hungry,” and three politically themed serials for Salon.com.
In 2005, Eggers co-wrote “Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully
Convicted and Exonerated,” co-compiling interviews with people
who had been exonerated from their death sentences.
Eggers’ most recent novel, “What Is the What: The Autobiography
of Valentino Achak Deng,” was published by McSweeney’s,
Eggers’ own independent publishing house.
Eggers, who was born in Chicago and grew up in suburban Lake Forest,
began his writing career as a Salon.com editor; he also founded Might
magazine while at the same time writing a comic strip called “Smarter
Feller” for SF Weekly.
Eggers lives in Mill Valley, Calif., and teaches writing in San Francisco
at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit tutoring center and writing school for
children, which he co-founded in 2002. He has since recruited volunteers
to operate similar programs in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Chicago; Los Angeles;
New York City; and Seattle.
This semester’s other Carr authors:
• Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m., poet Camille Dungy, whose most recent work
is “What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison”
(Red Hen Press, 2006).
A graduate of Stanford University and the MFA program at the University
of North Carolina, Dungy lives in San Francisco, where she is a professor
of creative writing at San Francisco State University.
Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, The
Crab Orchard Review, Poetry Daily and other publications. She is assistant
editor of “Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s
Dungy has won fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for
the Arts, Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the
American Antiquarian Society.
• April 10, 5:30 p.m., Dunya Mikhail, a poet famous in her native
Iraq and known for her subversive, innovative and satirical poetry.
Mikhail now lives in Dearborn, Mich., and teaches Arabic. It was in
Michigan where she composed the poems in the first section of “The
War Works Hard,” which won PEN’s Translation Award and also
was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 25 best books
As a witness to atrocities in her homeland, Mikhail has written poems
that are “forceful and direct, with ironies that ring through
their blunt admonishments,” Publishers Weekly wrote. In “The
War Works Hard,” the poet wrote:
“Please don’t ask me, America. / I don’t remember
their names / or their birthplaces. / People are grass – / they
grow everywhere, America.”
The author of four collections of poetry in Arabic, she has had poems
published in many anthologies worldwide.
In 2001, Mikhail was awarded the U.N. Human Rights Award for Freedom
of Writing. Mikhail has a master’s degree in Near Eastern studies
from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree in English
literature from the University of Baghdad.
She was managing director at the Al-Mashreq Co. for Press in Amman,
Jordan, in the mid-1990s, and literary editor of the Baghdad Observer
from the late 1980s to 1995.
• Peter Orner, April 19, 4:30 p.m., a novelist and short-story
writer who teaches in the graduate writing program at San Francisco
State University. Born in Chicago, Orner is the author of the novel
“The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo,” a San Francisco
Chronicle best-seller that has been called a “staggering debut
novel” that allows Orner to join “the first rank of American
He also wrote a short-story collection, “Esther Stories,”
which won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
and the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, and he was a finalist for
the PEN Hemingway Award.
His fiction has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and the Paris Review,
as well as Pushcart Prize and Best American Stories anthologies.