• Tobias Wolff
    Tobias Wolff

Fiction writer and memoirist Tobias Wolff will be the 2009 visiting author in the Writer’s Voice Series sponsored by the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center at Southwestern University. Wolff will give a public lecture titled “Saved by Stories: This Writer’s Life” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, in the Alma Thomas Theater.

Wolff’s books include the memoirs In Pharaoh’s Army and This Boy’s Life, which was made into a 1993 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro. He also has published a novel, Old School, and a short novel, The Barracks Thief.

In addition, Wolff has written four collections of stories including the 2008 book, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories, as well as the earlier collections In The Garden of the North American Martyrs, Back in the World and The Night in Question.

He also has edited several anthologies, among them Best American Short Stories, A Doctor’s Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov and The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Stories.

“Tobias Wolff is the quintessential American novelist and short-story writer,” said Lynne Brody, dean of Library Services. Brody said her favorite book by Wolff is Old School, which she describes as “a celebration of the impact of literature on young people.”

Born in Alabama in 1945, Wolff travelled the country with his mother, finally settling in Washington State, where he grew up. He attended the Hill School in Pennsylvania until he was expelled for repeated failures in mathematics in his final year, whereupon he joined the Army. He spent four years as a paratrooper, including a tour in Vietnam. Following his discharge he attended Oxford University in England, where he received a First Class Honours degree in English in 1972.

Returning to the United States, Wolff worked variously as a reporter, a night watchman, a waiter and a high school teacher before receiving a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University in 1975. He is currently the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University.

Wolff’s work is translated widely and has received numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, both the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Awards for Excellence in the Short Story, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Wolff’s Nov. 10 lecture at Southwestern is free, but tickets are required. Southwestern students, faculty and staff may begin reserving tickets Sept. 28. The general public may begin reserving tickets Oct. 12. Tickets may be reserved on the library web site.

Several preliminary events are being held in conjunction with Wolff’s visit. These include an Oct. 28 showing of “This Boy’s Life”, which will be held at 7 p.m. in Olin 110.

Previous guests in the Writer’s Voice Series have included Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Carlos Fuentes, Robert Pinsky, Amy Tan and Azar Nafisi.


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