News | 2 April 2013

UCSC Spring Living Writers Series Kicks Off April 4


Tupelo Hassman

Tupelo Hassman

Acclaimed up-and-coming writer Tupelo Hassman–author of the novel Girlchild–will kick off the spring installment of UCSC’s Living Writers reading series, Thursday, April 4, at the Humanities Lecture Hall.

As the New York Times has noted:

“It takes real talent to make something beautiful out of a trailer park. ‘Girlchild,’ Tupelo Hassman’s lacerating debut novel, is the story of Rory Dawn Hendrix, a young girl growing up in the Calle, a cluster of mobile homes on a plot of dust outside Reno, Nevada. Ms. Hassman is such a poised storyteller that her prose practically struts. Her words are as elegant as they are fierce.”kea

Hassman—who lives in San Francisco’s East Bay– was the first American ever to win London’s Literary Death Match, and her work has appeared in venues ranging from the theBoston Globe to the internationally noted literary magazine, ZYZZYVA.

“The spring series is a dynamic mix of exciting new writers who’ve just published their first novels, like Justin TorresTupelo Hassman, and Patrick DeWitt, and long established writers such as Elizabeth Graverand Karen Joy Fowler,” noted Micah Perks, professor of literature and co-director of the UCSC Creative Writing Program.

Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler

“Our theme, ‘Miraculous Children,’ celebrates the fact that all children are miraculous in astonishing and surprising ways–from the tough, wounded children in Torres’ and Hassman’s novels, to the child that cannot go out into the sun in Elizabeth Graver’s Awake, to the girl who grows up in a biological experiment in Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

Fowler, who will read on May 2, is the author of six novels and three short story collections. Her novel The Jane Austen Book Club spent 13 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler’s previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.

Perks added the lineup also includes George Estreich, author of a raw, honest and poetic memoir about raising a daughter with down’s syndrome; and Patrick DeWitt, who penned a hilarious, heartbreaking western, The Sisters Brothers, where two gunslingers seek their fortunes, but find a way home instead.

Justin Torres

Justin Torres

The Los Angeles Times has said of DeWitt, “If Cormac McCarthy had a sense of humor, he might have concocted a story like Patrick DeWitt’s bloody, darkly funny western.”

The spring series will also showcase three of UCSC’s own graduate students in literature–Tsering Wangmo, Lauren Shufran, and Juliana Leslie—all published, prize winning poets.

Perks noted that the UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UCSC is additionally co-sponsoring a visit from esteemed UCSC alumnus Brenda Shaughnessy on April 25.

The New Yorker has described  Shaughnessy’s third book of poems, Our Andromeda, as a “monumental work.”

Now living in Brooklyn, Shaughnessy is currently poetry editor-at-large at Tin House Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Harpers, McSweeney’s, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and

Brenda Shaughnessy

Brenda Shaughnessy

All of the readings take place on Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. in the Humanities Lecture Hall on the UCSC campus. Admission is free, and open to the public.

For more information and the full spring schedule, visit the Creative Writing Program web site, or contact Micah Perks at

Article written by Scott Rappaport.