An Evening with Lewis Nordan

Critically acclaimed author Lewis Nordan will give a free reading Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University.

Nordan is emeritus professor of creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh. His publications include almost 100 short stories in various journals and anthologies and seven books of fiction, including two collections of short stories and five novels. He also published a memoir. Olympia Vernon, Willamette's Hallie Brown Ford Chair of Creative Writing, is sponsoring the event.

Nordan, born in 1939, grew up in Itta Bena, Miss., a small town in the Mississippi Delta. After high school, he attended Delta State College for one year before going into the Navy. He served aboard several ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, where he worked as a journalist.

Publishers Weekly wrote that "Nordan's engaging, wise, delightfully wry stories sound a melodious, bittersweet yawp, pulsating with love, grief, rage and a thirst for redemption." Nordan's novel "Music of the Swamp" was cited by the American Library Association (ALA) as Notable Book of the Year and won a Best Fiction award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. The book includes ten stories focusing on a boy growing up in a Mississippi Delta town and his love for his alcoholic father.

Nordan's novel "Wolf Whistle" is based on the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy killed for whistling at a white woman in 1955 in Mississippi. It won the ALA Notable Book Award, the Mississippi Authors Award for Best Fiction, the New York Public Library Award for Best Book for the Teen Years, and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for best book. Library Journal wrote that "'Wolf Whistle' displays some of Faulkner's lyricism and Flannery O'Connor's surreal humor ... [Nordan] emerges as a unique and powerful Southern storyteller in his own right."