• Dave Eggers
    Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers, an author and founder of an independent publishing house based in San Francisco, will be the 2011 visiting author in the Writer’s Voice Series sponsored by the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center at Southwestern University. Eggers will give a public lecture at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the Alma Thomas Theater.

Eggers burst onto the literary scene before he was 30 with his best-selling book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, in which he chronicled his caring for his 8-year-old brother after their parents died a month apart. The book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

Eggers has since enjoyed widespread praise in both fiction and nonfiction. This was especially true with his 2006 novel, What is the What, which won the 2009 Prix Médicis for best foreign work of fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award for Fiction. The novel, a blend of biography, fiction and journalism, recounts the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

Eggers’ other books include You Shall Know Our Velocity, a story about a frustrating attempt to give away money to deserving people while haphazardly traveling the globe; Zeitoun, a novel set in post-Katrina New Orleans; Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, a book of interviews with former prisoners sentenced to death and later exonerated; and The Wild Things, a novel inspired by Where the Wild Things Are.

In addition to writing, Egers is interested in social issues. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, he and Lola Vollen co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. All author fees and profits from What is the What are committed to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which has already begun building schools and community centers in war-torn southern Sudan.

Eggers has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2007 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, which came with a $250,000 prize. In 2010, he was named to Poets and Writers magazine’s list of the “Fifty Most Inspiring Authors in the World” and also was one of the winners of the 31st annual American Book Awards, given for literary works that cover “the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.”

“I think we have a real winner here,” said Lynne Brody, dean of library services. Brody noted that in selecting speakers for the Writer’s Voice series, they look for people with credibility as writers who also can “engage and inspire students.”

Eggers’ Nov. 1 lecture at Southwestern is free, but tickets are required. Southwestern students, faculty and staff may begin reserving tickets Sept. 13 and the general public may begin reserving tickets Sept. 27. Tickets may be reserved here.

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


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