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Novelist Elise Blackwell to read at Medaille College tonight

Novelist and short story writer Elise Blackwell--the author of four highly-regarded novels that have been shortlisted for numerous awards--is the guest of The Write Thing Reading Series tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. in the Academic Commons, located on the Fourth Floor of the Main Building on the campus of Medaille College, 18 Agassiz Circle in Buffalo.  The reading is free and open to the public. 

Blackwell is perhaps best known for her 2003 debut novel "Hunger"--the story of  an aging Russian √©migr√© and former botanist recalling World War Two's 900 day siege of Leningrad by Hitler's Wehrmacht, and how he betrayed his own personal commitments and professional principles in order simply to survive.  "Hunger" has been credited by songwriter Colin Meloy as one of the inspirations for his band The Decemberists' song "When the War Came" on their acclaimed "The Crane Wife" album.

Blackwell's second novel, "The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish" (Unbridled Books, 2007) was also a retrospective narrative set in 2005 on the eve of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in  southern Louisiana, relating the memories of a 90 year old former scientist named Louis Proby concerning a fateful 1927 decision to deal with an another flood situation threatening New Orleans by dynamiting a hole in the levee protecting his (fictional) hometown, Cypress Parish, Louisiana, and the tragedy that ensued.

Her two most recent novels, "An Unfinished Score" (Unbridled Books, 2010)--the story of a female concert violinist's extramarital affair with a prominent composer, and her moral dilemma when his sudden death in a plane crash leaves her in possession of his unfinished viola concerto--  and "Grub" (Unbridled Books, 2011), her satirical, self-described rewrite of George Gissing's 1891 "New Grub Street" set amid the 21st century literati and aspirant writers of Brooklyn and Manhattan, at a time just before the Wall St. meltdown of 2008 and the simultaneous rise of digital publishing laid waste to the business models of the publishing industry--have solidified Blackwell's reputation as one of the most capable and discerning fiction writers of our era.

Born in Austin, Texas and raised in southern Louisiana, Blackwell studied creative writing at Louisiana State University before entering the MFA Program of the University of California, Irvine.  Prior to publishing her first novel in 2003, she worked as a journalist and translator. Currently the director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, with her husband, the writer David Bajo, and their daughter.

--R.D. Pohl
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