Contemporary Writers Series

10th Anniversary Season 

Alice McDermott headshotAlice McDermott (6th Annual Hassett Reading)

Tuesday, April 7
7 p.m.; Montante Cultural Center

Alice McDermott was born in Brooklyn and grew up in suburban Long Island. She earned an undergraduate degree from SUNY-Oswego and an MA from the University of New Hampshire. She is the author of six novels, including That Night, a finalist for the National Book Award, the Pen/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize; At Weddings and Wakes, a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Child of My Heart, a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection, aNew York Times Notable Book, and a nominee for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award; and Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award. Her latest novel is After This. Her essays and stories have appeared in The New Yorker,Atlantic Monthly, Redbook, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ms, andCommonweal. She is the recipient of a Giles Whiting Writer’s Award and the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence. She is a Richard A. Macksey Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University and currently lives with her family outside Washington, DC. 

Web Resources

Reading from After This (Video)
Reading of McDermott’s short story “Enough” by Kathleen Chalfant as part of “The Lives of Women in Fact and Fiction,” an episode of “Selected Shorts” (Audio) 
Reviews of After This:
Reviews of Charming Billy:,,63830,00.html
Selected Shorts:

Uwem Akpan headshotUwem Akpan 

Thursday, September 18
7 p.m.; Grupp Fireside Lounge

Uwem Akpan was born in the village of Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. He joined the Jesuit order at nineteen and began writing about ten years later while still a seminarian. He studied English and philosophy at Creighton and Gonzaga universities and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 2003. In 2006, Akpan received his MFA in creative writing from the University in Michigan. His story “An Ex-Mas Feast” first appeared in the New Yorker Debut Fiction issue in 2005; “My Parent’s Bedroom,” was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Akpan’s first book, Say You’re One of Them, is a collection of five short stories, each set in a different country in Africa, each focused on the experience of children. Entertainment Weekly calls the book “stunning”; USA Today describes it as “brilliant”; in the Washington Post, novelist Susan Straight writes, “Uwem Akpan has given these children their voices, and for the compassion and art in his stories I am grateful, and changed.” Currently Akpan teaches at a seminary in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Web Resources

Official Website
An Ex-Mas Feast,” first published in the New Yorker, from Say You’re One of Them
Akpan Reading an Excerpt
Reviews for Say You’re One of Them:,,20204769,00.html
“Agbalagba” by Angélique Kidjo, a song inspired by Say You’re One of Them

Ann Patchett headshotAnn Patchett

Thursday, October 2
7 p.m.; Montante Cultural Center

Ann Patchett published her first story in The Paris Review while still a student at Sarah Lawrence College and went on to attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her nonfiction book Truth & Beauty, a New York Times bestseller and the winner of a Books for a Better Life Award, is a memoir of her close friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy. Patchett’s first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and adapted into a 1998 movie. Her other novels include Taft, the winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and The Magician’s Assistant, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, England’s Orange Prize, the Book Sense Book of the Year Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her latest publications are What Now?, an essay drawn from Patchett’s recent commencement address at her alma mater Sarah Lawrence, and the novel Run, a 2007 New York Times bestseller. Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was awarded the Nashville Banner Tennessee Writer of the year award in 1994, and also was the editor of the 2006 volume of The Best American Short Stories. 

Web Resources

Author’s Website
HarperCollins Trailer for Run
Book Excerpt
Short Essays by Patchett:
Reviews of Run:

Ann Patchett headshotCalvin Trillin

Tuesday, October 21
7 p.m.; Montante Cultural Center

Calvin Trillin was raised in Kansas City, Missouri and lives in New York City where he serves as a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker. He also writes a column for Time and a weekly poem as the “Deadline Poet” for The Nation. Over the years Trillin has written more pieces for The Nation than any other single person. He has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America,” “the Buster Keaton of performance humorists,” and “the Walt Whitman of American Eats.” He’s best known for his humorous writings for the New Yorker about food and eating, and his explorations of the fried slice of American life are collected in hisThe Tummy Trilogy. Trillin’s many nonfiction publications include serious journalism collections An Education in Georgia and Killings, and the autobiographical Travels with Alice, Remembering Denny, Messages from my Father, and Family Man. He has also published a book of short stories, Barnett Frummer is an Unbloomed Flower, and three humorous novels, Runestruck, Floater, and 2001’s Tepper Isn’t Going Out. His latest work,About Alice, is a memoir of his late wife Alice, Trillin’s companion in adventure and happy eating throughout his nonfiction chronicles. 

Web Resources

Calvin Trillin on The Daily Show
Verse Columns at The Nation
Borders Live Interview
New Yorker Articles by Trillin:
Reviews of About Alice:

Rishi Reddi headshot

Thursday, November 13
7 p.m.; Grupp Fireside Lounge

Rishi Reddi was born in Hyderabad, India, and grew up in Great Britain and the United States. She’s earned degrees from Swarthmore College and the Northeastern University School of Law. Her stories have been appeared in Harvard Review, Louisville Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Best American Short Stories 2005 and were featured on National Public Radio’s “Selected Shorts” program. Reddi also received an honorable mention in Pushcart Prize 2004. Her first book, Karma and Other Stories (2007), was named a finalist in Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Competition and was awarded the PEN/L.L. Winshap Award. which are set primarily among the Telegu-speaking Massachusetts Indian American community and explore the tenuous balance these immigrants strike between Western lifestyle and their traditional culture. The San Francisco Chronicle writes, “Among such time-tested topics of immigrant fiction, Reddi suddenly soars.” Rishi Reddi is a recipient of an Artist Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

Web Resources

Author’s Website
New York Times Magazine Article by Reddi
Daily Show Correspondent Aasif Mandvi reads Reddi’s “Justice Shiva Ram Murthy” on NPR
Reviews & Blog Response to Karma & Other Stories 
PEN Award