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Chicago Through Words of Dybek, Hemon, Kotlowitz

Award-winning local authors discuss Chicago writing at upcoming events.

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September 11, 2009 | by Jasmine Rangel
Stuart Dybek, Northwestern's first Distinguished Writer in Residence, selected three winning short stories from more than 130 entries in Northwestern Magazine's first short fiction contest.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Get a feel for Chicago through the writing of three celebrated Northwestern University writers featured in Granta Magazine and participating in a week of literary events sponsored by the British publication. The magazine and events showcase Chicago's vitality as a city of writers and writing.

Work by Stuart Dybek, Aleksandar Hemon and Alex Kotlowitz, all writers on Northwestern's faculty, illuminates both what is wonderful and what is complicated about living in Chicago. Also included in the magazine are works by Sandra Cisneros, Nelson Algren and Wole Soyinka.

Granta's Chicago issue marks only the second time in its 120-year history that it has devoted an issue exclusively to writing from or about a single city. The first issue, on London, was a British bestseller.

Hemon and author Audrey Niffenegger ("The Time Traveler's Wife"), who earned a master of fine arts degree from Northwestern, will talk about artists and writers who represent Chicago in their works at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.

Dybek and Kotlowitz will read from their Granta pieces at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St.

In addition, award-winning poet Reginald Gibbons, professor of English, classics and Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern, will read from his work at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the Stop Smiling Store Front, 1371 N. Milwaukee. Gibbons is director of the University's Center for the Writing Arts.

Northwestern's first Distinguished Writer in Residence, Dybek is known for his short stories, which often are set in his boyhood South Side neighborhood. In 2007, he was named a MacArthur Fellow and won the prestigious Rea Award for the Short Story. His "The Coast of Chicago" was the 2004 "One Book, One Chicago" selection. Dybek teaches creative writing in the English department of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a fiction workshop for the MA and MFA in Creative Writing Program in the School of Continuing Studies.

Hemon, also a MacArthur Fellow (2004), has lived in Chicago since 1992. His writing often captures the unreported immigrant experience, with stories set in Chicago, Hemon's native Sarajevo or both. He has been honored for his novels, poems and short stories and was named a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in fiction. Hemon teaches in the MA and MFA in Creative Writing Program and earned his master's degree from Northwestern.

Kotlowitz is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine and National Public Radio. His book "There Are No Children Here" was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important books of the 20th century. His first two books tackle issues of race and poverty. His newest book "Never a City So Real" is about Chicago. For more than a decade, Kotlowitz has taught nonfiction writing as a writer-in-residence at Northwestern's Center for the Writing Arts. A member of the Medill School of Journalism faculty, he teaches at Medill and also at the School of Continuing Studies.

For more information, go to www.granta.com

Media should contact Wendy Leopold at w-leopold@northwestern.edu

Topics: Campus Life