Join KRON 4 at San Jose State University and The Center for Literary Arts. The Center for Literary Arts (CLA) provides readings, lectures, conversations and seminars that allow the San José community to interact with writers of contemporary literature who have demonstrated exceptional voice and vision. Its mission is to spread the influence of, and interest in, literature throughout the South Bay and to facilitate cross-cultural understanding in the region’s ethnically diverse population through the appreciation of works of literature. Since 1986 the CLA’s Major Authors Series has been the most significant literary series in the region, and has included five winners of the Nobel Prize, sixteen winners of the National Book Award and twenty-nine winners of the Pulitzer Prize.
Bosnian-American author Aleksandar Hemon has spent close to half his life in the United States, writing in English. But in all that time, his primary landscape, the map inside his head, has remained a fine-grained, street-by-street, multi-sensory memory of Sarajevo, the city of his birth.
In his short stories, novels and memoir pieces, Hemon restlessly re-creates his homeland, masterfully deploying his second language to burrow deep into his memories and render them freshly evocative and painful.
Poet and memoirist Nick Flynn read his work to an audience of about 50 people in the Engineering building on Wednesday night as part of San Francisco’s Litquake series.
On the heels of Tuesday night’s presentation of the movie, “Being Flynn,” based on his memoir “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” Flynn read passages from all his work that demonstrated its interconnectivity.
Stephen Elliott, a novelist, memoirist and film director, read his largely autobiographical works to an audience of SJSU students and fans in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library on Tuesday evening.
Elliott is the author of seven books, including the memoir “The Adderall Diaries,” and directed his first feature film “About Cherry” in 2011, according to information from the Center for Literary Arts.
SJSU’s Center for Literary Arts will host a joint book reading and signing for two authors the center describes as game changers, Wednesday, in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library rooms 225 and 229.
“For the first time we sort of choose a theme for our season,” said Andrew Altschul, assistant professor in the English department and director of Center for Literary Arts. “We called it game change and that’s because when we started to plan it, we realized that everybody we had invited so far were really unusual writers (or) literary pioneers of some kind.”
Novelist Karen Tei Yamashita read excerpts from her novel and answered students’ questions about novel construction during a reading on Wednesday evening in the Engineering auditorium.
She read excerpts from her recent work “I Hotel,” the most recent of her five novels.
Wednesday’s in conversation with Geoffrey Wolff was a family affair. Brothers Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff invited Andrew Altschul, SJSU CLA director and their former student (at different times), to join them in their question and answer session, lending the event a casual and intimate dinner-table atmosphere. Altschul kicked off the event with a question to the brothers about whether they see themselves in each other’s work (mannerisms, words, etc.). The Wolff brothers exchanged glances and mentioned this was a topic they’ve discussed before. Their admiration for each other extends beyond a brotherly love to an appreciation of one another as writer’s. Tobias described Geoffrey’s writing, specifically his sentences, as “exercises of the spirit.”
This coming week, SJSU’s Center for Literary Arts fall series shifts into high gear with three events highlighting novelist, poet and playwright Nick Flynn. Flynn is best known for his memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and his second book of poems, Some Ether, which nabbed the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. His work has been featured in major periodicals and journals such as The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker and the Paris Review. Enhancing his name recognition, his memoir was recently made into the film Being Flynn, starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.
At Wednesday’s reading, Julia Scheeres reminded her audience of the power of writing. Escuela Caribe, the school she was sent to as a teenager for being a “fornicator and an alcoholic,” was shut down after the publication of her memoir and the activism of other alumni. Jesus Land, her memoir, is also a tribute to her brother, David. In her introduction, Center for Literary Arts board member, Jessica Taylor, lauded Scheeres’s courage and compassion. Taylor expressed Scheeres’ strengths perfectly, especially her ability to align herself with her subjects to tell their stories and capture their spirits. Scheeres gave an emotional reading of excerpts from both Jesus Land and Jonestown. Perhaps the most interesting part of the night was hearing the commonalities between the two books. As Scheeres noted, both books are about a sense of solidarity, the desire for normalcy and acceptance, and promises used to veil the bad intentions of others. While both books have similar themes, there are other “eerie parallels” between the settings in her books, such as the careful censoring of incoming and outgoing information by those with power over the powerless.