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Lewis Center for the Arts Program in Creative Writing Opens Fall Reading Series with Internationally Acclaimed Authors Breyten Breytenbach and Uzodinma Iweala

(Princeton, NJ) Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Program in Creative Writing, announces the fall Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series. The popular series, which has featured such esteemed writers as Mark Doty, Dave Eggers, Richard Ford, Louise Glück, Jhumpa Lahiri, Natasha Trethewey and Charles Wright, will continue its tradition of bringing a dazzling and diverse array of established and emerging novelists, short story writers, memoirists and poets to Princeton.

The fall series, which takes place on select Wednesdays, will begin on September 24 with a highly anticipated reading by internationally celebrated poet, author, artist and essayist Breyten Breytenbach, and the critically acclaimed young fiction writer Uzodinma Iweala. Both of these authors address issues surrounding African civil war and the complex public and private effects of such struggles.

A South African native, Mr. Breytenbach is a visual artist and the author of numerous novels, collections of short stories and poems, essays and dramatic works. He is also a committed opponent of apartheid, and a political activist who emigrated to Paris in the 1960s. In 1975, on a covert visit to South Africa, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for high treason. Mr. Breytenbach's memoir of this experience, The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist (1983), is widely recognized as a South
African classic and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Known for his powerful use of metaphor, evocative descriptions of the South African landscape, and ear for Afrikaans idiomatic speech, Mr. Breytenbach is considered to be the finest living poet of the Afrikaans language. His most recent work, Veil of Footsteps (Memoirs of a Fictional Nomadic Character) (2008), blurs the lines between reality and imagination. New York Times reviewer Caryn James has described him as a specialist “in seeing multiple sides of every issue.” Mr. Breytenbach has been honored with numerous literary and art awards, and has taught at the University of Natal, New York University, University of Cape Town and Princeton University.

Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala is a graduate of Harvard University, where he was a Mellon Mays Scholar and the recipient of a number of prizes for his writing. His first novel, Beasts of No Nation (2005), has received considerable critical attention and has been translated into eleven languages. In the novel, Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. The San Francisco Chronicle commented that Beasts of No Natiion, published when Iweala was just 23 years old, “captures Agu’s visceral, gut-wrenching emotions [and] introduces a powerful new voice in fiction.” Interested in health and human rights issues, Iweala has worked on development projects in Nigeria and New York, and is currently attending Columbia University medical school. In 2007, he was named one of Granta’s 20 Best Young American Novelists.

The coordinator of the reading series, Tracy K. Smith, an award winning poet and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton, describes the reading series as one of the Creative Writing Program’s most valued teaching tools. “This is an opportunity for students of writing to hear and engage with living writers and their up-to-the-minute projects,” says Smith. “Breytenbach and Iweala’s distinct personal perspectives and aesthetic approaches will remind listeners of the diversity that characterizes the African continent.”

For a full listing of fall reading series speakers please click here. All readings are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise indicated, all readings will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ‘32 Film Theater, located in the Lewis Center for the Arts at 185 Nassau Street. A reception and book signing will be held after each reading. All are welcome.

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.

Media Contact

Marguerite d’Aprile-Smith
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

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