Award-winning novelist Ayana Mathis to visit Centre as Humana/Library Lecture Series Speaker
Award-winning novelist Ayana Mathis will join the ranks of Ron Rash, Wendell Berry, Silas House and Elizabeth Strout as one of Centre College’s Humana/Library Lecture Series speakers on Mon., Feb. 23. The 2015 Humana Scholar Convocation will take place in Weisiger Theatre at 7:30 p.m., followed by a book signing and reception in the Norton Center for the Arts foyer.
During the convocation, Mathis will read selections from her book The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which has received broad acclaim as a New York Times bestseller and 2013 “Notable Book of the Year,” as well as a National Public Radio “Best Books of 2013” and an Oprah Book Club Selection.
The extraordinary reviews the novel received are what initially drew Director of Library Services Stan Campbell to Mathis’ work. “The sweep of the book is enormous, yet the stories she tells are intimate and often heartbreaking,” Campbell says.
Mathis’ convocation address will also connect to Centre’s yearlong campus programming centered on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in America. In conjunction with a series of activities made possible by the Created Equal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, this event will continue to cultivate campus discussions regarding important issues surrounding race relations.
Campbell recognizes the importance of linking this year’s Humana/Library Lecture Series to the Created Equal campaign.
“Ms. Mathis opens her novel in 1925 and, through Mattie and her children, traces the African-American experience in the 20th Century.
“It is also a novel that, as one critic put it, ‘is about our struggles against bitterness,’” Campbell adds.
A Philadelphia native, Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the 2014-15 New York Public Library’s Cullman Center Fellowship. She has taught creative writing at the Writer’s Foundry MFA Program at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is currently an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Following Monday’s convocation, Mathis will also be available to meet with students and faculty on Tues., Feb. 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Grissom Reading Room of Grace Doherty Library.
by Anne Wilson ’15