Best-selling author to speak at Summers Memorial Lecture

October 16, 2013 | Events, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences
By Samantha Watson

A best-selling author known for his dark and funny short stories, who also happens to be one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, will speak Monday, Oct. 21, at The University of Toledo.



George Saunders, whose most recent collection of short stories Tenth of December was published earlier this year, will give the 24th annual Richard M. Summers Memorial Lecture at 5 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

Saunders, who was a field geophysicist, didn’t know writing was a possible livelihood until he discovered master of fine arts programs. He applied to the MFA program at Syracuse, got in, and began his new life as a writer. He still teaches there.

He is the author of the best-selling CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia, as well as numerous short stories in The New Yorker and travel pieces in GQ.

His book of essays, The Braindead Megaphone, landed him spots on “The Charlie Rose Show,” “Late Night With David Letterman” and “The Colbert Report.” This year, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He also has been recognized as a MacArther Genius Grant Fellow, which supports “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.”

“He’s a widely recognized writer,” said Dr. Tim Geiger, professor of English. “I think he’s going to be very entertaining, and I think he’s going to say some things to make people think about our contemporary society and where we’re going.”

Saunders’ work has been studied in the UT graduate seminar Creative Writing and 20th Century American Fiction taught by Dr. Ben Stroud, assistant professor of English. Stroud served on the committee that extended the invitation to speak on campus to benefit not only the graduate students that take the course, but the community as well. Geiger and Jane Bradley, professor of English, also served on the committee that planned the lecture.

“He’s a very compassionate writer,” Geiger said. “A lot of the themes and topics he addresses are about the human condition and what we’re doing here on this planet. The way he approaches that and the way he addresses it are very engaging to people.”

The Richard M. Summers Memorial Lecture honors the late Summers, a respected member of the Department of English who served as director of freshman English and as both a graduate and undergraduate adviser from 1966 until his death in 1988.

The lecture will be followed by a reception and a book signing in Libbey Hall, with some of Saunders’ books for sale courtesy of the Barnes & Noble University Bookstore.

For more information on the free, public event, call the Department of English Language and Literature at 419.530.2318.

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