edited.booktalk1_liztilleyBy Julia Fuchs

Elm Staff Writer

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edward P. Jones spoke at the Rose O’Neill Literary House on Feb. 26 as part of the “Living Writers” series.

Jones is most widely recognized for his novel “The Known World,” which examines historical issues in white ownership of black slaves. “The Known World” won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Jones read from his latest collection of short stories, “All Aunt Hagar’s Children,” followed by a brief question-and-answer session.

“This is the first time I’ve done a reading since they operated on my eye in December. I had a cataract,” Jones said.

Jones is from Washington D.C., and is currently resides there. He began writing in college, and has had experience teaching fiction to students.

“I knew when I was in college that I did not want to have the type of job that required a suit,” Jones said.

Julie Armstrong, class of 2015, is the administrative assistant at the Lit House. Armstrong is heavily involved in organizing these events, and scheduling writers to visit WC.

“’Living Writers’ is connected to the Contemporary Living Writers class, and it is taught every other year. The professor teaching the class suggests authors they want to bring to class, and we figure out how we can get them on campus.” Armstrong said.

Robert Parkinson, the 2018 Patrick Henry Fellow at the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, is currently teaching a history course on War and Race in Early America. As a historian and author, Parkinson is a big fan of Jones’ work, especially “The Known World.”

“Edward Jones’ book that won the Pulitzer Prize is a phenomenal picture of a very unexplored part of Virginia slaveholding life. It’s an important and sort of brutal look at the slaveholding experience done in such a penetrating way that I have used it in my classes to relate these relationships,” Parkinson said.

Throughout his research, Parkinson explored many aspects of American slavery and early American racism. In the past, “The Known World” has been used as a reinforcement for Parkinson’s students.

“For the College to bring him was cool, and it was interesting to hear him read from some of what he has written.” Parkin- son said.

Jones read from his short story entitled “The Devil Swims Across the Anacostia River” which was from a collection of stories he published called “All Aunt Hagar’s Children.” These stories explore societal standards of racism, and the expectations of being African-American within Ameri- can society.

The Literary House talks are open to all students, even those who are not taking the living writers class.

“The writers we invite have an impact on the students, they have work that speaks to what students would be interested in and important issues of our time. The authors come to student courses and the students get to ask questions and get a one on one with the writer.” Armstrong said.

According to Armstrong, the Lit House is meant to be a place of inclusion.

“We want to be a place where the community feels included. We want to fill the house at our events. I think even if you don’t get to meet the author hearing them speak or listening to them read something, they wrote is a life-changing experience.” Armstrong said.

All Literary House events are free and open to the public. The next “Living Writers” event will be Lidia Yuknavitch Tuesday, March 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Lit House.


The Elm

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