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Visiting Writers Series to host Antrim

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(Courtesy flickr.com)

Acclaimed writer Donald Antrim, author of such noted works as “Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World” and 2000’s “The Verificationist,” will be the latest in a slew of celebrated novelists to visit the University of Massachusetts as part of the Visiting Writers Series. The event, which takes place tonight at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall, is open to the public.

Sponsored by the MFA Program for Poets and Writers and the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action, the Visiting Writers Series has brought established and emerging writers and poets to campus for almost 50 years. 

According to Lisa Olstein, associate director of the MFA Program for Poets and Writers, “Each year the MFA faculty invites guests who represent a diversity of aesthetic, form and experience, introducing a dynamic range of excellent contemporary literature and poetry to the university community and introducing the University’s vibrant literary tradition to writers from across the country.”

“Readers include some of the most celebrated authors in contemporary literature as well as some of its most exciting up-and-coming talents,” said Olstein.

In addition to Antrim and writers Jedediah Berry and Lily Hoang, the Visiting Writers Series will host Adrian Louis on April 1, and Rae Armantrout, recipient of the Fund for Poetry Grant, on May 4.

Antrim has contributed fiction and essays to “The New Yorker” since 1996, and in addition to his prior novels, has also published a memoir, “The Afterlife.” He has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and the American Academy in Berlin.  He currently teaches at Columbia University.

In his work “Bold Type,” Larry Weissman describes Antrim as “darkly comedic” and says, “When you first read of one of his novels, Donald Antrim might seem to be completely insane. But then, the best artists have always been called crazy.”

New York Times critic A. O. Scott has also spoken favorably of Antrim’s works. In a 2006 article he proclaimed “Donald Antrim’s three books of fiction – ‘Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World,’ ‘The Hundred Brothers’ and ‘The Verificationist’ – are sly exercises in unfettered fabulation, at once wildly inventive and meticulously controlled. They are witty, elegant and elusive constructions and, like much other work in the anti-realist, post-post-modernist mode, decidedly cool to the touch.”

At the Visiting Writers Series, Antrim will share new and selected works with the audience.

Lindsay Pierce can be reached at lcpierce@student.umass.edu.

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