Acclaimed Authors Visit Manhattan College

Pulitzer prize winners and poet laureates are among the authors who have participated in the Major Author Reading Series program at Manhattan College.

The Major Author Reading Series (M.A.R.S.) finished up its fourth successful semester at the College this spring and continued to give students the chance to meet acclaimed authors and partake in readings and book signings right on campus. The program, which is sponsored by the School of Arts, the English department, Student Government, Manhattan Magazine, and the Modern Languages and Literatures department, seeks to expose students to modern literature by giving them the opportunity to listen to writers’ insights into their works.

The success of the program has brought to the College a variety of esteemed authors, including Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad; Rick Moody, award-winning novelist; and Tina Chang, the poet laureate of Brooklyn.

“The success of the M.A.R.S. readings tells me that students are willing to engage with their college on both personal and intellectual levels. I think that’s what students and faculty find at M.A.R.S. readings: a community, a place where the personal and the intellectual are formed,” says Adam Koehler, Ph.D., assistant professor of English. “My hope for the future of the series is that the community will continue to grow, students will continue to read — and to write — and that our students will continue to dazzle the writers who accept our invitations to spend an evening with us.”

Holding its first spring event in February, the College invited Junot Díaz, author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the  National Books Critics Circle award, the Anisfield Wolf Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), Pushcart Prize XXII and The O’Henry Prize Stories (2009). Currently, he is the fiction editor at the Boston Review and the Rudge & Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It was a wonderful event that received a great response from the College community,” Amanda Ferrarotto ’12 says. “Mr. Diaz was a charismatic speaker who captured the audience through his unique use of language and his expressive feedback that was an inspiration to us all.”

emma straub signing books

In April, Emma Straub (pictured above), author of Other People We Married and the forthcoming Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, visited the College and shared some of her latest work with the students. Straub, a New York native, has had various fiction and nonfiction stories published in Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, Slate, Cousin Corinne’s Reminder and many other journals. In addition, she is also a staff writer for Rookie, a website for teenage girls.

Bringing the spring program to a close, M.A.R.S. welcomed Claudia Emerson to the College, who received the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Late Wife. In addition, she is also the author of the poetry collections Secure the Shadow; Figure Studies; Pharaoh, Pharaoh; and Pinion: An Elegy, all in the Southern Messenger Poets series from LSU Press. Emerson is a professor of English and Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va.

Less than two years old, the M.A.R.S. program has gained quite a following on campus and has brought talented writers to Riverdale, giving students the opportunity to meet professionals whose work has helped shape modern literature.