Pulitzer Prize Winner Edward P. Jones Comes to CSM April 13

Part of CSM’s Connection’s Literary Series

Family is a strong underlining theme in the stories of Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones—the families into which we are born, the families that adopt us and the families we create for ourselves. It is this theme, comprised of the most ordinarily remarkable individuals and their dreams and hopes, which Jones embraces in his writing.

Jones will appear April 13 for a reading and discussion of his latest book, “All Aunt Hagar’s Children,” at the College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Fine Arts Center Auditorium, at 7:30 p.m.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Jones was educated at Holy Cross College and the University of Virginia. His first book “Lost in the City,” a collection of short stories, was short-listed for the National Book Award. His second book, and first novel, “The Known World” earned him the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award – a rare literary double-feat. He is the winner of the Pen/Hemingway award and the recipient of a Lannan Foundation grant and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

From the first page of his books, the importance of family is emphasized and his dedications acknowledge the strong connection he has to his siblings and his mother, Jeanette S. M. Jones, whom he praises as “the greatest influence” on his life and work. In the dedication to “All Aunt Hagar’s Children,” he writes “…to the multitudes who came up out of the South for something better, something different, and, again, to the memory of my mother, Jeanette S. M. Jones, who came as well and found far less than even the little she dared hoped for.”

In a radio interview with Tavis Smiley in 2004 (available online at http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/200410/20041008_transcript.html#1,) Jones noted that, “…she couldn’t read or write, and I think there were a lot of things that she could have done had she been educated, had she not had to work so hard…I think there were a lot of things in my mother that were there and she could have brought out if she had been educated, if the world had been a different place.”

Education is also an important theme to the famously shy Jones. In 2005, he participated in the Writers in Schools program run by Seattle Arts & Lectures, a non-profit group that brings established writers in touch with high school juniors and seniors. As part of his appearance at CSM, Jones will meet with honor students from the languages and literature department to discuss writing as a profession and the process he goes through to create such wholly unique characters and stories, whether it is about babies being picked from trees, witches riding a mother or a young girl who mysteriously escapes multiple injuries.

For Jones, as he noted in an interview with Small Spiral Notebooks’ Robert Birnbaum, the hardest work of being an author comes when in piecing together a story “you are trying to tell all these lies in order for the reader to believe it and accept it [the story].”

Since 1990, the Connections Literary Series has held readings featuring national award-winning contemporary writers, poets and artists who share their work and time with residents of Southern Maryland. All readings begin at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $2. Contact the Box Office 301-934-7828 or 301-870-3008, Ext. 7828 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7828 for St. Mary’s County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7828 for Calvert County or visit http://csmd.edu/FineArts/.

For information on the Connections Literary Series call, 301-934-7864 or 301-870-3008, Ext. 7864 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7864 for St. Mary’s County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7864 for Calvert County or visit http://www.csmd.edu/Connections/.

Sidebar

Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones’ third book and second short story collection, “All Aunt Hagar’s Children” features 13 tales about the lives of men, women and children carrying the ghosts of their cultural and family pasts as they pursue life in and out of Washington, D.C.

From a doctor who realizes an incident of rudeness may have led to her mother’s illness to a widower fleeced by the seductions and bodies of youth, these emotionally driven stories bring the reader face-to-face with the extraordinary people whose everyday actions and obsessions make up their existence.

Excerpt from the title story, “All Aunt Hagar’s Children” by Edward P. Jones:

“…Every Sunday since I had finished high school and gone out on my own, my mother had made a big fried-chicken supper for herself, my brother, and me, usually with string beans, potatoes boiled with a bit of fatback, and corn bread with crackling. An apple or peach cobbler. Every other Sunday I got to choose the Kool-Aid, and almost always picked grape. Freddy was a lime man. After Freddy married, his wife came, too, of course, so I got to enjoy my grape Kool-Aid only every third week. Joanne was into orange Kool-Aid, which I hated. A punk flavor. God only knew what shit their twin girls would choose, but I had no plans to be around when those two started showing up and spoiling everything and putting my choice of Kool-Aid off to the fifth or sixth week.”

“All Aunt Hagar’s Children” is available for purchase at the CSM College Stores at the La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses as well as the night of the performance. The cost is $25.95. For information on “All Aunt Hagar’s Children,” visit http://www.allaunthagarschildren.com/.

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