Thursday, April 8, 2010

Renowned Spokane author Jess Walter to present endowed reading April 23 at Whitworth in honor of late professor Nadine Chapman

Bestselling Spokane author Jess Walter will be Whitworth's endowed reader for the 2nd annual Nadine Chapman Endowed Reading, named in honor of the late associate professor of English at Whitworth. Walter will read from his works on Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. A book sale and reception will follow the reading. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-3253.

Whitworth invites local authors to campus each year to read their poetry, prose or creative nonfiction in memory of Chapman, who died in July 2008 after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Walter is a poet and writer from the Pacific Northwest who wrote The Zero (Harper, 2006), a satire on post-9/11 profiteering that became a finalist for the National Book Award. He also is the author of Citizen Vince (Harper, 2005), which explored the emotional importance of voting and won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Other works include Land of the Blind (Harper, 2003) and Over Tumbled Graves (Harper, 2001), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In addition, he wrote the nonfiction book Ruby Ridge (Harper, 1996), which was a finalist for the PEN USA literary nonfiction award in 1996.

Walter's latest book, The Financial Lives of the Poets (Harper, 2010), is a novel set in the present day that looks at the nation's bleak financial landscape through the eyes of Matthew Prior, a small-time business reporter. Prior quits his journalism job to start a website featuring poetry about finance. The venture fails, and Prior returns to the newspaper business, only to be laid off. He finds himself jobless, deeply in debt, and about to lose his home. He is then approached with an illegal moneymaking opportunity, and he jumps at the chance.

The Washington Post calls the book "A noir page-turner with powerful social commentary…full of dead-on insights into our culture." USA Today hails it as "a satire/tragedy that Franz Kafka and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. might appreciate." And The Seattle Times says it is "exquisitely written…by turns heartbreaking and deadpan funny."

Walter also writes screenplays and is the co-author of Christopher Darden's 1996 bestseller In Contempt. His essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been published in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe, among other periodicals.

The Nadine Chapman Memorial Fund was established to honor, through the annual endowed reading, Chapman's profound contributions to the Whitworth community. In her 12 years at Whitworth, Chapman inspired hundreds of students through her devoted teaching, her sensitivity, and her deep friendships. Many of her students have gone on to graduate programs in literature and creative writing and have become professional writers. Her students recall her gracefulness and her dedication to the craft of writing, and the university hopes that the endowed reading will inspire those who may not have known her to discover and share the joy she found in creative writing.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Doug Sugano, professor of English, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4212 or dsugano@whitworth.edu.

Annie Stillar, program assistant, English department, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3253 or astillar@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.