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CANCELED: Word Works | Sigrid Nunez: Giving Full Play to the Imagination

August 28 at 7:00 PM

This event has been canceled due to the coronavirus.

For her Word Works craft talk, National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez will speak about playfulness, imagination, and how to give in to the pull toward the unknown that all writers face when embarking upon a project. Nunez won the 2018 National Book Award in Fiction for her novel The Friend, which the New Yorker called “an impressively controlled portrait of the ‘exhaustion of mourning.’”

After the talk, Nunez will be interviewed onstage by Karen Maeda Allman and take part in an audience Q&A.


Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of GodThe Last of Her Kind, and, most recently, The Friend, which won the 2018 National Book Award for fiction and was a finalist for the 2019 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Nunez’s other honors and awards include four Pushcart Prizes, a Whiting Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature.


Karen Maeda Allman is author events co-coordinator at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. She has served on jury and awards panels for Hedgebrook, the Washington State Book Awards, the NEA Big Read Book Review Committee, the NEA Literary Translation Fellowships, the Kiriyama Prize, the 2016 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature. She has worked in bookstores since 1989 and in 2017 won a Seattle Arts and Lectures Prowda Literary Champions Award.


“I believe we must all retain, throughout our whole lives, a powerful memory of those early moments of life, a time when we were as much animal as human, the overwhelming feelings of helplessness and vulnerability and mute fear, and the yearning for the protection that our instinct tells us is there, if we could just cry loudly enough. Innocence is something we humans pass through and leave behind, unable to return. But animals live and die in that state, and seeing innocence violated in the form of cruelty to a mere duck can seem like the most barbaric act in the world.”

―Sigrid Nunez, from The Friend


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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.