Writers Series Brings African Writers, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Inspiration to Mason

Posted: February 13, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Paul Rusesabagina
Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda,” will read from his autobiography.

The Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at Mason will kick off this semester with a special series of readings by four African writers followed by a reading by the first of the fiction visiting writers this semester, author Randall Kenan. Later in the semester, Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda,” will read from his newly published autobiography.

“We are trying different arrangements for our visiting writers this semester,” says Bill Miller. “We think it will be fun and help build a sense of community for us all.”

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, in the Grand Tier III of the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kwame Dawes, Helon Habila and Binyaganga Wainaina will read as part of an event sponsored by Granta magazine and the Virginia Quarterly Review. This will be followed by a reception, open to everyone. At 8 p.m., Kenan will begin his reading.

Kenan is the author of the novel “A Visitation of Spirits” and the short story collection, “Let the Dead Bury Their Dead,” which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and one of the New York Times Notable Books of 1992. Kenan is also the author of a young adult biography of James Baldwin and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award.

The schedule for the rest of the visiting writers is as follows. All readings will take place in the Concert Hall, Grand Tier III:

  • Thursday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., Robert Wilson, editor of The American Scholar since fall 2004, and former editor of Preservation: The Magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. His essays, reviews and fiction have appeared in The American Scholar, American Short Fiction, Architectural Record, The Atlantic Monthly, Civilization, Contemporary Literary Criticism, Discover, Landscape Architecture, The New Republic, Preservation, Shenandoah, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Magazine and The Wilson Quarterly and on the op-ed, opinion and book-review pages of The Boston Globe, The New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post.
  • Wednesday, March 29, 7:30 p.m., poet Dan Beachy-Quick, who teaches in the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has written two books, “North True South Bright” and “Spell,” just out from Ahsahta Press.
    Allen Wier
    Author of three novels, Allen Wier will speak at Mason in April.
  • Tuesday, April 4, 7:30 p.m., Allen Wier, author of three novels, “A Place for Outlaws,” “Departing as Air” and “Blanco,” and a collection of stories, “Things About to Disappear.” In 2001 he was voted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship from the University of Texas and the Texas Institute of Letters.
  • Wednesday, April 5, 7:30 p.m., Heather King, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (1977) and Suffolk Law School (1984). The author of the memoir “Parched,” King is a commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a widely-published essayist whose work has been anthologized in “Best Spiritual Writing” in 2002 and 2005.
  • Wednesday, April 12, 7:30 p.m., poet Myung Mi Kim, author of five books, “Under Flag,” “Dura,” “The Bounty,” “Spelt” and “Commons.”

In addition, the English Department, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Public Library, is bringing Rusesabagina to read from his autobiography, “An Ordinary Man.” This event will take place on Monday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Rusesabagina was an assistant manager of a luxury hotel in Rwanda who sheltered thousands of people and saved many lives during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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