JHUMPA LAHIRI awarded National Humanities Medal

PHOTO BY MARCO DELOGU

PHOTO BY MARCO DELOGU

Jhumpa Lahiri, whose novels and short stories explore the immigrant experience, family, love, language and cultural identity, was named a recipient of the 2014 National Humanities Medal. The medal was conferred by President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 10, 2015.

The citation for the award honored Lahiri, who joined the faculty in 2015 as a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, “for enlarging the human story. In her works of fiction, Dr. Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging.”

Her 1999 debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, which probes issues of love and identity among immigrants and cultural transplants, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year Award. Her 2013 novel The Lowland was a National Book Award and Man Booker Prize finalist. Her 2003 novel The Namesake was released as a film in 2007.

Lahiri’s most recent book of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, received the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the Story Prize. Her forthcoming book, In Other Words, explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language.

–By Jamie Saxon

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A. M. Homes wins Women’s Prize for Fiction

A. M. Homes

A. M. Homes (Photo by Marion Ettinger)

The 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction was awarded to A.M. Homes, a lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, for her novel May We Be Forgiven. The £30,000 ($46,000) prize rewards excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing worldwide. Homes received the prize in London.

A contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Homes has written the novels This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers and Jack. Her short-story collections include Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects. Homes has also written for television: she helped write and produce the television show The L Word, and adapted her first novel, Jack, for Showtime

 

Three win Guggenheim Fellowships

D. Graham Burnett

D. Graham Burnett (Photo by D. Hong)

Three professors have received 2013 Guggenheim Fellowships for demonstrated excellence in scholarship or creative work.

D. Graham Burnett, professor of history; Deana Lawson, lecturer in visual arts and the Lewis Center for the Arts; and Colson Whitehead, lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, were selected by a network of former Guggenheim Fellows to receive grants that would provide them with the ability to work with significant creative freedom for six months to one year.

Deana Lawson

Deana Lawson, D. Graham Burnett, and Colson Whitehead win Guggenheim Fellowships (Photo by Dru Donovan)

Burnett focuses on the history of earth and oceanic science from the 17th through the 20th centuries. He has written about changing human conceptions of nature, art and technology, and serves as an editor at the Brooklyn-based art magazine Cabinet.

Lawson’s work uses photography to approach personal and social histories, particularly in black culture. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta, including the Museum of Modern Art, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Print Center and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. She has also displayed her photographs in the Helene Bailly Gallery in Paris and the KIT Museum in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead (Photo courtesy of Colson Whitehead)

Whitehead’s novel John Henry Days was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and his collection of essays The Colossus of New York was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award.

Meme by Susan Wheeler

Meme by Susan Wheeler

Poet Susan Wheeler explores the absence or loss of love.

Acclaimed poet Susan Wheeler, professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, whose last individual collection predicted the spiritual losses of the economic collapse, turns her attention to the most intimate of subjects: the absence or loss of love.

A meme is a unit of thought replicated by imitation; examples of memes, Richard Dawkins wrote, “are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.” Occupy Wall Street is a meme, as are Internet ideas and images that go viral. What could be more potent memes than those passed down by parents to their children?

Wheeler reconstructs her mother’s voice— down to its cynicism and its mid-20th-century Midwestern vernacular — in “The Maud Poems,” a voice that takes a more aggressive, vituperative turn in “The Devil — or — The Introjects.” In the book’s third long sequence, a generational inheritance feeds cultural transmission in “The Split.” A set of variations on losses and breakups — wildly, darkly funny throughout and, in places, devastatingly sad — “The Split” brings Wheeler’s lauded inventiveness, wit and insight to the profound loss of love. One read, and the meme “Should I stay or should I go?” will be altered in your head forever.

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012 (Cover image and text courtesy of the publisher.)