Thursday, February 23, 2012
Acclaimed Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell to speak at OU
Acclaimed author and Michigan native Bonnie Jo Campbell will offer a glimpse into her life and works this spring, with a reading sponsored by Oakland University’s Department of English.
Campbell is best known for her short fiction collection, “American Salvage,” which chronicles the struggles of small town life amidst changing centuries. The collection won the respect of critics and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
An earlier collection of Campbell’s, “Women and Other Animals,” won the Associated Writing Programs prize for short fiction and her story, “The Smallest Man in the World,” was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Campell has also published two novels, “Q Road,” and most recently “Once Upon a River.”
“Bonnie Jo Campbell’s writing does one of the great things that fiction can do--give us insight into a world we don't know - even if that world is nearby,” said Rob Anderson, associate professor of English and chair of the Cultural Events Committee.
“In addition, and this is important for a public reading like this, her writing is accessible. I was confident that people could come to a reading with no knowledge of her writing and be able to respond in meaningful ways to her writing.”
Campbell left Michigan to study philosophy at the University of Chicago and has since travelled extensively, even organizing and leading adventure tours to Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltics as president of Goulash Tours Inc.
Currently residing with her husband outside of Kalamazoo, Campbell has earned a master’s degree in mathematics and a Master’s of Fine Arts in writing from Western Michigan University.
OU organizers hope that Campbell’s roots will be an additional draw, and that her story of success will encourage students to see themselves as writers.
“When I read “American Salvage,” I was determined to get Ms. Campbell to campus,” Anderson said. “Her stories are beautifully written, compelling, unsettling, and formally accomplished. I also really liked the fact that her stories present a picture of Michigan that challenges our notion of what Michigan is. While I imagine that some wouldn't like the image of Michigan presented, the stories insist on the humanity of all the characters in the collection.”
Campbell’s reading will take place from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, in the Oakland Center Banquet Room. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, view the flyer
For more information about programs in Oakland’s English department, view the website at oakland.edu/english