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Jonathan Franzen and James Richardson
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM
Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ)  Poet James Richardson and novelist/essayist Jonathan Franzen will read from their works in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton on Wednesday, February 8 at 4:30 p.m.  Princeton student Nina Bahadur will also read from her work.  The reading, part of the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series of the Program in Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts, is free and open to the public.

James Richardson Photo by Pryde Brown
Photo by Pryde Brown

Richardson, who graduated from Princeton in 1971, is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the university.  His books include By the Numbers: Poems and Aphorisms, which was a 2010 National Book Award finalist and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010;  Interglacial: New and Selected Poems and Aphorisms, which was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award; Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten Second Essays (e.g. "All work is the avoidance of harder work" and "You've never said anything as stupid as what people thought you said"); How Things Are; A Suite for Lucretians; As If; Second Guesses; Reservations; and two critical studies.

He received the 2011 Jackson Poetry Prize, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Robert H. Winner, Cecil Hemley and Emily Dickinson Awards of the Poetry Society of America.  Richardson has had recent poems and aphorisms published in Slate, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry Daily, Harold Blooms’ American Religious Poems, David Lehman’s Great American Prose Poems: Poe to the Present, the 2010 Pushcart Prize Anthology, Gearys Guide to the World's Great Aphorists, and five recent editions of The Best American Poetry.

Richardson will be introduced by fellow poet and Princeton Creative Writing faculty member C.K. Williams. 

Jonathan Franzen Photo by Greg Martin
Photo by Greg Martin

Franzen’s most recent novel, Freedom, is a national bestseller, winner of the John Gardner Fiction Award, and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize.  The New York Times dubbed Freedom as “a masterpiece of American fiction” and New York magazine called it “a work of total genius.”  Franzen’s other novels include The Corrections, which received the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for fiction; Strong Motion; and The Twenty-Seventh City, set in his hometown of St. Louis. 

Equally recognized for his non-fiction work, Franzen is known for his 1996 Harpers essay “Perchance to Dream,” lamenting the state of literature; for The Discomfort Zone, his widely praised, frank, personal history; and for his collection of essays, How to be Alone.  Franzen was the center of controversy when in 2001 Oprah Winfrey rescinded her selection of The Corrections for her book club, following Franzen’s comments on this distinction; subsequently in 2010 his novel Freedom was selected by the talk show host for her book club and Franzen appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss his work.

Franzen will be introduced by fellow writer Colson Whitehead, who is a Visiting Lecturer of Creative Writing at the Lewis Center.

Student reader Nina Bahadur is a senior majoring in Anthropology and pursuing certificates in Creative Writing and in Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She will read selections from her thesis in poetry.  Her thesis advisor is Tracy K. Smith.

The Lewis Center’s Program in Creative Writing is sponsoring this event as part of the ongoing Althea Ward Clark W’21 reading series, which provides an opportunity for students, as well as all in the greater Princeton region, to hear and meet the best writers of contemporary poetry and fiction.  All readings are free and open to the public and take place in venues on the University campus. Other upcoming readings include:

  • James Tate and Zadie Smith on March 28, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50
  • Mary Ruefle and Jane Smiley on April 11, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50
  • Student Reading on May 2 at 5:15 p.m. in Chancellor Green Rotunda
  • Senior Thesis Reading in Poetry at 4:30 p.m. on May 8 at the Nassau Club
  • Senior Thesis Reading in Fiction at 4:30 p.m. on May 9 at the Palmer House

Photos Link:
Photo Caption:  Jonathan Franzen
Photo Credit: Photo by Greg Martin
Photo Caption:  James Richardson
Photo Credit: Photo by Pryde Brown

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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