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Department of English Language and Literature

  • Four authors of 2022 Open Book series

The Open Book

(L-R) Michael Chabon  | NoViolet Bulawayo  | Natalie Diaz  | Richard Powers

Open Book 2023

A literary series, a public course, and a community reading experience all in one, the Open Book is hosted each spring by Elise Blackwell and sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences. The spring 2023 event will feature Michael Chabon, NoViolet Bulawayo, Natalie Diaz, and Richard Powers. All events are free and open to the public, and all take place at 6pm in the Campus Room of the Capstone Bldg., UofSC Columbia.

Michael Chabon     Michael Chabon (March  22)

One of the most recognizable names in contemporary literature, Chabon is a prolific writer of fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays, perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Moonglow, a gorgeous fictionalization of the mysterious lives of the author’s grandparents, is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of keeping secrets and telling lies.

Talk by Elise Blackwell on Chabon’s Moonglow, March 20.

Chabon speaks in person, March 22.

NoViolet Bulawayo     NoViolet Bulawayo (March 29)

NoViolet Bulawayo’s first novel, We Need New Names, established her as an important literary voice and was awarded the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Pen/Hemingway Award as well as shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the International Literature Award. Her new novel, Glory, takes a cue from Orwell’s Animal Farm and was inspired by the unexpected fall by coup of Robert G. Mugabe in Bulawayo’s native Zimbabwe. Glory depicts a country's implosion, narrated by a chorus of animal voices that unveil the ruthlessness required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, as well as the imagination and the bulletproof optimism necessary to overthrow such power completely.

Talk by Anne Gulick on Bulawayo’s Glory, March 27.

Bulawayo speaks in person, March 29.

Natalie Diaz     Natalie Diaz (April 5)

Born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, Natalie Diaz—with only her first two volumes of poetry—has become one of the most decorated and prominent contemporary poets. She has been a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow, and her books have won or been shortlisted for nearly every major poetry award. The New York Times Book Review called her Pulitzer Prize-winning second collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, “one of the most important poetry releases in years.” An anthem against erasure, the book explores both historical and contemporary experiences of Native Americans in language that is both wrenching and exquisitely lyrical.

Talk by Nikky Finney on Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem, April 3.

Diaz speaks in person, April 5.

Richard Powers     Richard Powers (April 12)

Richard Powers is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Echo Maker and The Overstory, which explore the implications of science and technology on human beings and non-human nature. He is the recipient of such accolades as the National Book Award (Echo Maker) and the Pulitzer Prize (Overstory). His most recent novel, Bewilderment, is a moving story about an astrobiologist whose efforts to help his troubled son lead him into the strange territory of experimental neurofeedback. Kirkus has called the book “a taut ecological parable … a touching novel that offers a vital message with uncommon sympathy and intelligence.” (While in town, Powers will also narrate a performance of “A Forest Unfolding,” the collaborative musical project inspired by his novel The Overstory.)

Talk by Elise Blackwell on Powers’ Bewilderment, April 10.

Powers speaks in person, April 12.

Powers will also narrate “Forest Unfolding” at the Southern Exposure New Music Series. This free concert will be on Friday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the UofSC School of Music Recital Hall (813 Assembly St., 2nd floor).

Elise Blackwell


The Open Book is hosted by Elise Blackwell. Blackwell is the author of five novels, most recently The Lower Quarter. Her short prose has appeared in the Atlantic, Witness, Brick, Seed, and other publications. Her work has been named to several best-of-the-year lists, translated into multiple languages, adapted for the stage, and served as inspiration for a Decemberists' song. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of South Carolina, of which she is former director.

View lists of past years' authors.

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