Three acclaimed writers visit the university

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 24, 2005 – The creative writing program in the Virginia Tech English Department is sponsoring visits of three nationally-acclaimed writers on consecutive Thursday nights in February.

Novelist, essayist and NPR commentator Diana Abu-Jaber will read at 7 p.m., On Feb. 10, in Shanks Hall, Room 380. Mystery writer and social commentator Walter Mosley will lecture at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 in Donaldson Brown Auditorium. Poet and memoir writer Mark Doty will read at 7 p.m. Feb. 24, in Shanks 380. These events are free and open to the public and university community.

"We're very fortunate to have three writers of such renown, nationally and internationally, visit Virginia Tech," said Fred D'Aguiar, professor of English and co-director of the Creative Writing Program. "Each brings unique qualities that are crucial to the university's mission of artistic excellence coupled with diversity."

Abu-Jaber's father is Jordanian and her mother is American. She has alternated living in America and Amman, Jordan, all her life. She received her Ph.D. in English literature from the State University of New York. She has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan and UCLA. Currently, she is Writer in Residence at Oregon State University. Her first novel, Arabian Jazz, came out in 1993 from Harcourt Brace. It won the Oregon Book Award and was a finalist for the national PEN/Hemingway award. Her second novel Crescent, 2003, won the PEN/Faulkner Award. She also has written a non-fiction book, The Language of Baklava, 2005. Abu-Jaber is a regular commentator on NPR and writes op-ed pieces for various newspapers including The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Mosley is a best-selling mystery writer, novelist, and social commentator whose 18 critically acclaimed books have been translated into 21 languages. He is famous for his sequence of mysteries centered on the detective Easy Rawlins. That series includes Devil in a Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, and A Little Yellow Dog. The film version of "Devil in a Blue Dress" starred Denzel Washington. Mosley also is author of RL's Dream, a blues novel. Mosley is the past president of the Mystery Writers of America, a member of the executive board of the PEN American Center as well as the National Book Foundation (sponsors of the National Book Awards). He also serves on PEN's Open Book Committee, a group working to increase the presence of African Americans and others in the publishing community. Mosley's visit is yet another offering in Virginia Tech's Black History Month celebration. A native of Los Angeles, Walter Mosley now lives in New York City.

Doty is the author of six books of poems. Awards include the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain's T.S. Eliot Prize. He has also published Heaven's Coast: A Memoir (1996), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, and Firebird (HarperCollins, 1999), an autobiography. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill, Rockefeller, and Whiting foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Provincetown, Mass., and Houston, Texas, where he teaches at the University of Houston.

For more information, contact Fred D'Aguiar for the Abu-Jaber and Mosley events, (540) 231-7759,; for Mark Doty please contact Jeff Mann,, (540) 231-7706.

The speakers are sponsored by the Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and the Women and Minority Artist and Scholars Lecture Series.