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Zell Visiting Writers Series pres.

Craft Lecture: Generosity in Fiction

Joan Silber, Zell Visiting Writers Series

Joan Silber Joan Silber
Joan Silber
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How can work be generous to its characters but not stupidly innocent, not ignorant of human nature? We’ll look at examples by Anton Chekhov, David Malouf, Colm Toibin, Edward P. Jones, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction, most recently the novel, Improvement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, Newsday, the Seattle Times, and Kirkus Reviews. She’s also the winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.

Her previous book, Fools, was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Other works include The Size of the World, finalist for the LA Times Fiction Prize, Ideas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize, and Household Words, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her short stories have appeared in O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, and Pushcart Prize collections. She’s also the author of The Art of Time in Fiction. Her new novel, Secrets of Happiness*, will be published in May 2021.

She grew up in Millburn, New Jersey, and attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied with Grace Paley. She holds an M.A. from New York University. She has recently retired after many years of teaching at Sarah Lawrence College and still teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. She lives in New York and travels as often as she can, with a special interest in Asia.

The Zell Visiting Writers Series brings outstanding writers to campus each semester. The Series is made possible through a generous gift from U-M alumna Helen Zell (BA ’64, LLDHon ’13). For more information, please visit the Zell Visiting Writers Program webpage:

For any questions about the event or to share accommodation needs, please email we are eager to help ensure that this event is inclusive to you. Copies of the readings and live, high quality auto-captions/transcriptions will be provided at all events.

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