Campus News

Novelist Francine Prose to Headline Women Writers Event



LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 19, 2011) − Bestselling novelist Francine Prose will be the featured keynote speaker at the 33rd annual Kentucky Women Writers Conference this September. As a preview, the conference will introduce the Bluegrass to one of Prose's critically acclaimed works in the book discussion event "5 Writers to Know for the Women Writers Conference: FRANCINE PROSE" on July 22. This event, which is free and open to the public, will be presented at noon Friday, July 22, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. Renee Boss, president of the board for the conference, will lead a discussion of Prose's novel "Blue Angel," a 2001 National Book Award finalist.

Conference Director Julie Wrinn explained why Prose was chosen to headline the conference. "Over a long and distinguished career in fiction and nonfiction, Francine Prose has become a beloved figure in the writing community for two very different works: the comic novel 'Blue Angel,' a scathing satire of creative writing teachers and students at a New England college, and Prose’s own how-to manual, 'Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them.' Both were best-sellers, and together they brilliantly address the quandary of ‘how writers learn to do something that cannot be taught.’”

As the headliner of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Prose has handpicked fiction writer Danzy Senna to join her for the conference's Hardwick/Jones Reading, a mentor/mentee keynote address, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at University of Kentucky's Memorial Hall. The free public reading is modeled after the influential relationship between writers and Lexington natives Elizabeth Hardwick and Gayl Jones. The Hardwick/Jones Reading honors the roles of influence, mentoring and friendship in women writers’ lives. The premier event, co-sponsored by University of Kentucky Libraries, brings a renowned established writer into conversation with the emerging writer of her choice.

Described by writer Russell Banks as "a world-class satirist who's also a world-class storyteller," Prose is the author of numerous works. Her most recent book is the critically acclaimed "My New American Life," the story of an Albanian immigrant's life in New York City during the second term of George W. Bush's presidency, published by HarperCollins. Prose's other fictional works include "Goldengrove"; "A Changed Man," for which she won the first Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction; and "Blue Angel." She is also the author of two story collections, "Hunters and Gatherers" and "Bigfoot Dreams and Primitive People," and a collection of novellas, "Guided Tours of Hell."

Prose is also known for her writings for younger readers. She has written four children's books, and her award-winning young adult novels include "Bullyville" and "After."

Prose's nonfiction work includes, "Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife"; "Reading Like A Writer," a New York Times bestseller; "The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired," a national bestseller; "Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles"; "Sicilian Odyssey"; and "Gluttony." In addition, the writer has had stories, reviews and essays appear in The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Short Stories, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Observer, Art News, The Yale Review, The New Republic and numerous other publications.

A fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a 1999 Director's Fellow of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers, Prose is a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine and Bomb magazine and she writes regularly on art for The Wall Street Journal. In 2009, she was elected into the Academy of Arts and Letters. The following year, Prose was awarded the Washington University International Humanities Medal, honoring the lifetime work of a noted scholar, writer or artist who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the world of letters or the arts. Prose has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants and a PEN translation prize. A native New Yorker, Prose has taught at Harvard University, Sarah Lawrence College, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Arizona, University of Utah, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee Writers Conferences, and is currently Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

Besides the Hardwick/Jones Reading, Prose will also work with conference registrants at the seminar "Reading Like a Writer" set to begin 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Carnegie Center. The seminar is based on her best-selling how-to book, "Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them."

Senna is the author of the national bestselling novel "Caucasia," winner of the Book of the Month Award for First Fiction and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, "Caucasia" was a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. A recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, Senna is also the author of the novel "Symptomatic" and the memoir "Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History," which she researched and wrote as a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. The writer's latest work is the story collection "You Are Free," published by Riverhead Books. Senna lives in Los Angeles.

As part of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Senna will also present a sold-out fiction workshop and a reading. The reading, which will be presented 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the Carnegie Center, is open to all conference registrants.

The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is the longest running conference of its kind in the nation. Its mission is to promote imaginative conversation by lifting up women’s artistry for the benefit of all. A program of the University of Kentucky, the annual event is made possible in part by continued community partnerships. To see a full schedule of the conference's daytime sessions visit

Registration for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Sept. 15-18, and information on these authors are available on the conference website. For more information on any of these events, contact Julie Wrinn, conference director, at (859) 257-2874.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or