The international influence of UNL’s Creative Writing Program receives vast coverage this weekend in major media outlets, from NBC News to The Guardian to Washington Post.
The Department of English has made international news in recent weeks, demonstrating its world-class standing, via reports of major awards, profoundly influential advocacy, and significant book deals. These reports demonstrate the department’s commitment to literature, writing, social justice and diversity and inclusion, and the faculty’s role in shaping the national and international literary culture. Over this weekend particularly, stories about Creative Writing faculty demonstrated the department’s reach in such publications as The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Nation, Publishers Weekly, and others. The Washington Post and The Guardian included separate articles about two of our faculty over the weekend.
Chigozie Obioma has published two novels since joining the English faculty, and both have been short-listed for one of the world’s most significant literary awards: the Man Booker Prize. This level of recognition is a historic landmark for the award; his latest, An Orchestra of Minorities, is up for the award against some of the world’s—and literary history’s) most important authors. An October 12 article in The Nation outlines why An Orchestra of Minorities deserves the win over Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, and Salman Rushdie’s latest.
Jennine Capó Crucet’s first novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, has been adopted by campuses across the country as an all-campus read, and was one of the top five books assigned on college campuses in 2018 via common reads programs. Jennine has traveled widely to talk about the book and its story of a Latina college student adjusting to a new life away from her family in Florida. This fall, Jennine also published a new collection of essays, My Time Among the Whites, which includes material from her contributions to the New York Times. Because Jennine bravely confronts issues of racism and privilege during these visits, she’s often addressing tough conversations on campuses and fielding complex questions. In Georgia last week, among celebration of her book and appreciation of her message by students, protests emerged against her, which made national news in the Washington Post and Newsweek, and on NBC and CNN, among many other media outlets. But such bold challenges to her work are clearly inspired by her advocacy and representative of her service to university students in discussions of race, gender, and privilege.
Timothy Schaffert, director of Creative Writing and a Nebraska native, sold his novel, The Perfume Thief, to Doubleday/Penguin Random House in a major deal that made the coveted pre-Frankfurt (Germany) Book Fair edition of Publishers Weekly. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade show for the international publishing industry. It is rare for a literary novel with a queer protagonist to see such commitment from a commercial publisher, and even more rare for a queer Nebraskan author to meet with that success. The book will come out in the U.S. in 2021.
Kwame Dawes, who received the university’s ORCA and the esteemed international Windham Campbell Award in 2019, released his book of poems, Nebraska, this fall. A poem from the collection appeared in the September 23 issue of The New Yorker magazine. The magazine’s multimedia material on its website includes a recording of Kwame reading the poem.