Thursday, March 5, 2015

University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop Brings Three Top Novelists to Campus

The Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans brings three leading contemporary novelists to campus on Thursday.

Join Us!

This highly anticipated event featuring three of today's absolute best contemporary novelists -  Michael Pitre, Hannah Pittard and Katy Simpson-Smith -- will begin at 5:30 p.m. in room 140 LA on UNO's campus.

There will be a reading, book signing and Q&A.

The Creative Writing Workshop hosts fiction writers Michael Pitre, Hannah Pittard and Katy Simpson Smith, “three of today’s absolute best contemporary novelists, if you believe the reviewers for rags like The New York Times,” said director M.O. Walsh.

Walsh, an assistant English professor at UNO last month saw his own novel, My Sunshine Away, debut on The New York Times best-seller list. Since becoming director of the Creative Writing Workshop, he has made a concerted effort to bring leading writers and poets to UNO, where the Creative Writing Workshop serves as a living laboratory in which students learn their crafts from professional poets and writers.

Michael Pitre

Michael Pitre, author of Fives and Twenty Fives, was a history and creative writing student at LSU when he signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps after Sept. 11. He served two tours of duty in the War in Iraq, working as a logistics and communications officers in Iraq's Anbar Province.

Pitre, a New Orleans resident, served for a total of eight years, ultimately rising to the level of captain during the course of his two deployments. His 2014 novel, Fives and Twenty-Fives, follows an American road repair crew and bomb disposal team in Iraq.

"Fives and Twenty-Fives refers to a tactic to maintain safe distances from possible roadside bombs," he told NPR in an interview. "But it also became a metaphor for protecting yourself. I heard it more than once in a Southern California bar. Two young Marines — very obviously young Marines by their haircuts — one of them's too drunk and his buddy says to him, "Hey man, watch your five and twenty-fives"; meaning, you know, stay safe."

Hannah Pittard

Hannah Pittard is the author of two critically acclaimed best-selling novels -- The Fates Will Find Their Way, and Reunion, published in August -- and is about to publish a third novel, entitled Listen to Me, in 2016.

"Her books are the sort that leave you reading the blurbs, scanning the small print, and prolonging the reading experience as long as possible," wrote Arianna Rebolini for Buzz Feed. "She’s the kind of writer who gets in your head and makes you evangelize to all of your friends — wide eyes, quick gasp: “Do you know about Hannah Pittard?” If she’s not on your radar yet, she should be."

The recently released Reunion has been named a Millions' Most Anticipated Book, a Chicago Tribune Editor's Choice, a BuzzFeed Top-5 Great Book, a Best New Book by People Magazine, a Top-10 Read by Bustle Magazine and LibraryReads, a Must-Read by TimeOut Chicago, and a Hot New Novel by Good Housekeeping.

Pittard's first novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, was an Oprah Magazine selection, an Indie Next pick, a Powell's Indiespendible Book Club Pick, and a "best of" selection by The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, Details Magazine, The Kansas City Star, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Reader, and Hudson Booksellers.

Pittard is the winner of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a consulting editor for Narrative Magazine. She divides her time between Chicago and Lexington, Kentucky, where she lives with her husband, W. Andrew Ewell.

Katy Simpson Smith

Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Story of Land and Sea, is a native of Jackson, Miss. who now lives in New Orleans, where she works as an adjunct professor at Tulane University.

Her debut historical novel, The Story of Land and Sea, follows three generations of a family living in a North Carolina coastal town during the final years of the American Revolution. Simspon Smith says her characters "yearn for redemption amidst a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery and love." 

Her book was named one of the best books of 2014 by Vogue and The Huffington Post and has received critical acclaim from literary reviewers, newspapers and magazines from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus to The New Yorker, New York Times Book Review and Washington Post.

"In this début historical novel, set on the coast of North Carolina during and just after the American Revolution, Tabitha grows up romanticizing the sea, thanks to her father’s tales of happy times aboard ship with her mother, who died in childbirth," reads a summary in The New Yorker. "When Tabitha is stricken with yellow fever, her father, hoping that salt air can cure her, takes her on a sloop headed for Bermuda. Left on land is her mother’s father, who blames the loss of his only daughter on her husband and on the sea, and who now fears for his granddaughter. In patient prose, Smith tells the story of two men, both widowed early, and two daughters who grew up motherless."

Simpson Smith is also the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835.

Learn More

Hannah Pittard
Michael Pitre
Katy Simpson Smith

Read More

Marine Turned Novelist Brings Brutal, Everyday Work Of War Into Focus, NPR
Fives and Twenty-Fives review – Michael Pitre's riveting Iraq war novel, The Guardian
Review: ‘Fives and Twenty-fives,’ by Michael Pitre, a tale of dangerous duty in Iraq, The Washington Post
New Orleans writer Michael Pitre wins New York Times rave for Iraq War novel, The Times Picayune
In Iraq, Dread Is in the Air: ‘Fives and Twenty-Fives’ by Michael Pitre Shows Wartime Iraq, The New York Times

Hannah Pittard Is The Writer You Won’t Be Able To Stop Talking About, Buzz Feed
Editor's choice: 'Reunion' by Hannah Pittard, The Chicago-Tribune
Review: ‘The Story of Land and Sea,’ by Katy Simpson Smith, The Washington Post

The Book We're Talking About: 'The Story of Land and Sea' By Katy Simpson Smith, The Huffington Post
Editor's choice: 'The Story of Land and Sea' by Katy Simpson Smith, The Chicago-Tribune