Award-winning authors headline Syracuse series

Posted 9/11/19

SYRACUSE — The Friends of the Central Library (FOCL) presents the 2019-2020 season of the Rosamond Gifford Author Series. The event, now in its 25th year, features six renowned authors including a …

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Award-winning authors headline Syracuse series

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SYRACUSE — The Friends of the Central Library (FOCL) presents the 2019-2020 season of the Rosamond Gifford Author Series.

The event, now in its 25th year, features six renowned authors including a National Book Award winner, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in fiction, New York Times best-selling authors and a winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Rosamond Gifford Author Series is one of the largest library-related lecture series in the United States: At the conclusion of the series’ 25th season in 2020, FOCL will have brought 150 authors to Syracuse to entertain, inform and inspire our Central New York audience.

Past authors include John Updike, Alice Hoffman, David Sedaris, Anna Quindlen, Suzan-Lori Parks, Dave Barry, Joyce Carol Oates, and George Saunders.

This year’s featured authors are: 

Sept. 24: Jesmyn Ward, one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2018

Oct. 29: Amor Towles, New York Times Best-Selling Author

Nov. 12: Tommy Orange, Pulitzer Prize finalist in fiction

March 31: Tayari Jones, Hurston/Wright Award winner for debut fiction

April 14: Paula McLain, Best-selling novelist

May 5: Marlon James, Award-winning author

The first event will begin at 7:30 p.m., at the Crouse Hinds Theater, John H. Mulroy Civic Center at Oncenter, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse. Tickets range from $30-$55 per lecture. Student tickets are available for $10 with a valid student ID. For more information, go online to http://www.foclsyracuse.org.

Jesmyn Ward,
National Book Award winner

MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her “fearless and toughly lyrical” voice in novels, memoir, and nonfiction. Betsy Burton of the American Booksellers Association has called her “the new Toni Morrison.”

In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, and John Updike.

Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Ward was forced to evacuate her home. Her writing is deeply informed by Katrina and its social and economic repercussions.

Her novel “Salvage the Bones,” winner of the 2011 National Book Award, is a troubling but empowering tale of familial bonds set amid the chaos of the hurricane. Similarly, Ward’s debut novel, “Where the Line Bleeds,” depicts what Publishers Weekly calls “a world full of despair but not devoid of hope” in the aftermath of natural disaster.

Ward’s memoir, “Men We Reaped,” explores the five years of Ward’s life in which she lost five young men—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows poor people and people of color. Lauded by Kirkus Reviews as a “modern rejoinder to ‘Black Like Me’ [and] ‘Beloved’,”

“Men We Reaped” is a beautiful and painful homage to Ward’s ghosts and the haunted yet hopeful place she calls home. “Men We Reaped” won the Heartland Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

A Southern odyssey that strikes at the heart of life in the rural South, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” earned Ward a second National Book Award in 2017.

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” is a road novel through Mississippi’s past and present that explores the bonds of a family tested by racism and poverty. “Sing” was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times and Time. The Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly also called it one of the year’s best books.

In 2018, Ward was recognized among Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

She is working on two new books: a novel for adults set in New Orleans at the height of the American slave trade and a young adult novel about a Black girl from the South with supernatural powers.

Season subscriptions and tickets for individual lectures are available at the Solvay Bank Box Office at the War Memorial at Oncenter or online at Ticketmaster.com. Groups of 10+ qualify for 20% off regular ticket prices. For more information on group or student tickets, contact the Solvay Bank Box Office at the War Memorial at Oncenter, 315-435-2121, Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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