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Word Works | Russell Banks: Memory, Abandonment, and Betrayal

May 14 at 6:00 PM PDT

In his new novel, Foregone, which is structured around a character’s secret memories, Russell Banks—the author of Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, which were both adapted into critically acclaimed films—challenges our assumptions about a lost chapter in American history and questions the nature of recollection itself. For his Word Works lecture, Banks will discuss how character is defined in Foregone through memories, confabulations, fictions, and dreams.

After the event, Banks will be interviewed by novelist Jennifer Haigh.

All Word Works events this season will take place online. Tickets cost $15 general admission, $12 for members. We also have a $5 option for students or anyone who is financially disadvantaged. Tickets can be purchased at the bottom of the page.

This event will take place via CrowdCast, Pacific Time.

For tickets to all six Word Works events, purchase a series pass here.

Russell Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, nonfiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter, and Affliction. The latter two novels were each made into feature films in 1997.

“I thought that if could bring back the memory, I could bring back the feeling, and I would know for the first time what I truly wanted for myself, and then I would go and find it. That was my plan. But memories are always of things lost and gone and never returning.”

―Russell Banks, from The Darling

Jennifer Haigh is the author of five novels and a collection of short stories. Her most recent novel, Heat and Light, received a 2017 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was named a Best Book of 2016 by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and Slate. Her previous books have won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, the Massachusetts Book Award, and the PEN New England Award in fiction, and have been published in eighteen languages. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she was a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow.

Word Works craft talks by novelists, essayists, poets, and memoirists focus on writing as process rather than finished product, examining how language works to inspire and provoke new ideas through live close readings of the writer’s own or others’ work. These talks are designed to apply to writers of all genres as well as illuminate well-known works for avid readers. The talks are followed by an interview with a noted editor, writer, or critic.


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