PEN/Faulkner Presents: Howard Jacobson

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PEN/Faulkner Presents Howard Jacobson

In Conjunction with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Wonder of Will and with Hogarth Shakespeare

Monday, March 14th, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 
(map)

 

The Wonder of Will is the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2016 celebration of Shakespeare and his extraordinary legacy through special events, exhibitions, performances, and more—online, at the Folger, and across the United States.

The Hogarth Shakespeare series is a major international project in which some of today’s bestselling and most celebrated writers reimagine Shakespeare’s plays as contemporary novels. The books will be true to the spirit of the original plays, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to do something new.

Award-winning novelist and critic Howard Jacobson, best known for his prizewinning tragi-comic novels, will be the third novelist to publish in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, following Jeannette Winterson and Anne Tyler. He has chosen one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays – The Merchant of Venice. Jacobson comments:

“For an English novelist Shakespeare is where it all begins. For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish The Merchant of Venice is where it all snarls up. ‘Who is the merchant and who is the Jew?’ Portia wanted to know.  Four hundred years later, the question needs to be reframed: ‘Who is the hero of this play and who is the villain?’ And if Shylock is the villain, why did Shakespeare choose to make him so?

Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare.  But Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, the Holocaust had not yet happened, and anti-Semitism didn’t have a name. Can one tell the same story today, when every reference carries a different charge? There’s the challenge. I quake before it.”

March 21st: Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

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I Feel Your Pain: An Evening with Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

Moderated by Richard McCann

Monday, March 21st, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 
(map)

 

Mitchell S. Jackson’s novel The Residue Years, the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, is based on his own coming-of-age, in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood harrowed by the crack cocaine epidemic. Leslie Jamison’s widely-lauded essay collection The Empathy Exams starts with her own memories of working as a model patient for medical students and goes on to explore how we perceive other people’s pain. Both writers investigate the extremes of experience – their own and others’ – in dazzling fiction and essays.

 

Mitchell S. Jackson is the author of Oversoul: Stories and Essays and the novel The Residue Years, which was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the 2014 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He teaches writing at New York University.

“Jackson’s prose has a spoken-word cadence, the language flying off the page with percussive energy… There is warmth and wit, and a hard-won wisdom about the intersection of race and poverty in America.”

– Roxane Gay, The New York Times


 

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Leslie Jamison is the author of the novel The Gin Closet and the essay collection The Empathy Exams. She is a columnist for The New York Times Book Review, and her work has appeared in magazines and journals such as Harper’s, the Oxford American, and The Believer. She lives in Brooklyn.

“Her lush, erudite collection, The Empathy Exams, …is precisely about searching for sympathy with and understanding of others, struggling to see the world through a lens less narrow than the self.”

– Lisa Zeidner, The Washington Post

May 2nd: A Tribute to Robert Stone

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A Tribute to Robert Stone

Featuring Madison Smartt Bell, Stephen Goodwin, Lauren Groff, and Tim O’Brien

Monday, May 2nd, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 
(map)

 

PEN/Faulkner celebrates the life and work of the novelist, short story writer and memoirist Robert Stone, who served as chairman of PEN/Faulkner for 30 years.  “There has always been a strain of American fiction that seems to grow directly from Melville and Conrad,” the novelist Mona Simpson wrote in 1992. “The foremost voice of this sensibility in our time is Robert Stone.”  In novels such as Dog Soldiers and A Flag for Sunrise, Stone vividly captured the chaos and elation of the 1960s and the darkness at the heart of American empire-building. An evening of personal reminiscences and readings from his work and that of writers he influenced.

 

“Numerous sentences from the novels of Robert Stone are permanently lodged in my mind. I didn’t sit down to memorize them—they’ve stayed with me because Stone…had the power of being memorable. He wrote vividly and idiosyncratically about things that mattered, in a voice that occupied a high-low register of his own invention.”

– George Packer, The New Yorker