UC Santa Cruz to present readings by renowned authors Jonathan Franzen and Nathaniel Mackey

The UC Santa Cruz Humanities Division will kick off the new year with two public events on campus featuring nationally renowned, award-winning authors.

UCSC literature professor Nathaniel Mackey--winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Poetry--will read from his book Splay Anthem and talk about his writing on Monday, January 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Humanities Lecture Hall at Cowell College. A book signing will follow his reading. Admission is free and open to the public.

Jonathan Franzen--winner of the National Book Award in 2001 for his highly acclaimed novel The Corrections--will give a free public reading at a separate event on Thursday, January 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Humanities Lecture Hall. Franzen's appearance will be the first of a new annual series of readings by distinguished authors presented by UCSC's Writing Program.

At the Franzen event, the Writing Program will also present the first annual "Published Non-Fiction Writing Award" to a student writer whose work was published in a campus publication during 2005-06. The award will be shared by two UCSC students this year-Laura Mattingly, who writes for Metro Santa Cruz, and Henry Jones, a freelance writer for Good Times.

"We're especially glad to have Jonathan Franzen initiating our Distinguished Author Series and presenting the award to students," said Elizabeth Abrams, chair of UCSC's Writing Program. "Franzen's work is a wonderful inspiration for student writers. In his New Yorker pieces, he redefines the essay in the seamless mixing of personal narrative and reportage. He'll be presenting a writing award to young journalists who share his seriousness about writing."

In addition to The Corrections (2001), Franzen is also the author of the novels The Twenty-Seventh City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), as well as a collection of essays, How to Be Alone (2002) and a memoir, The Discomfort Zone (2006). His many awards include the American Academy's Berlin Prize in 2000 and a Whiting Writers' Award in 1988. Franzen was also named one of "Twenty Writers for the 21st Century" by the New Yorker and one of the "Best Young American Novelists" by Granta.

Abrams noted that that UCSC's Writing Program is "thrilled to advance the cause of student writing by recognizing the importance of student publications," and added that prior to his reading, Franzen will conduct a one-hour seminar for students on the principles of non-fiction writing.