Tim O’Brien to Speak as Distinguished Writer

Tim O’Brien, author of the iconic Vietnam short-story collection The Things They Carried, is the 2013 Diana M. Raab Distinguished Writer in Residence for Spalding University’s brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. O’Brien gives a public presentation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at the Brown Hotel, 335 W. Broadway. The evening with O’Brien is free, ticketless, and open to the public. A book signing follows.

Originally published in 1990, The Things They Carried is a collection of linked stories that follows a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. The title story and others in the collection have been widely anthologized and taught at the high school and college level. In 2005, The Things They Carried was named by the New York Times as one of the twenty best books of the last quarter century. It was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and received one of France’s highest literary awards, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. The title story received the National Magazine Award and was selected by John Updike for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century.

O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction in 1979 for his novel Going After Cacciato. He has received lifetime achievement awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Esquire, Playboy, Harper’s, and numerous editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories. His novels have sold more than three million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

The Diana M. Raab Distinguished Writer in Residence fund was established in 2011 through a gift from Raab, a 2003 alumna of the Spalding MFA in Writing program. An award-winning memoirist, essayist, and poet, Raab is the author of eight books.

O’Brien’s appearance is the headline event for Spalding’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, May 18-24. The festival is Kentucky’s largest and most prestigious spring-fall reading series. Past guest authors include Ernest J. Gaines, Yusef Komunyakaa, Pico Iyer, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), Naomi Shihab Nye, Bobby Moresco, Heather Raffo, and many others.

The Festival of Contemporary Writing is part of Spalding’s brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. The creative writing program offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, playwriting, and screenwriting. Fall and spring semesters begin in Louisville in November and May, respectively, while a summer semester with residency abroad begins in June or July and is designed to fit teachers’ schedules.

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