We have all heard the joke when working on a slow project, “What are you doing, writing a novel?” During the 10 years it took to complete his first book, Mary and O’Neil, author Justin Cronin could have answered honestly, “Yes.” For him, though, it was time well spent. When the novel debuted, it won two prestigious awards, the PEN/Hemmingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize. On Thursday, February 1, the University of Houston-Victoria will welcome Cronin to campus as the next speaker in the American Book Review reading series.
“You’d be hard pressed to find someone who mistakenly believes a novel can be written overnight, but a lot of people—including a lot of novice writers—don’t understand just how much hard work and patience gets invested in this kind of writing,” noted ABR editor Dr. Jeffrey Di Leo. “Cronin offers a healthy dose of insight and humor into the process.”
As an author, Cronin has been described as an Edward Hopper-like realist whose work moves seamlessly between the perspectives of multiple characters. Readers have mistaken his fiction to be set in their own hometown due to the convincing clarity of his writing. His work has won multiple honors, including a Whiting Writers’ Award, the National Novella Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pew Foundation.
A native of New England, Cronin now lives in Houston and teaches English at Rice University. He studied at Harvard as an undergraduate and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop.
“I could not be more pleased to welcome Justin Cronin to UHV,” said President Tim Hudson. “It is a credit to our ABR editors that in the reading series’ inaugural year they have been able to attract writers of such high caliber.”
Cronin will appear in the Alcorn Auditorium from noon to 1:30 p.m. to read a sample of his work and answer audience questions. The event will be free and open to the public. Copies of Mary and O’Neil as well as Cronin’s other bestselling novel, The Summer Guest, will be available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served.
The American Book Review, which is sponsoring the event, is an internationally distributed literary journal with a circulation of about 8,000 copies. The journal moved to UHV in 2006 when Di Leo took over as editor-in-chief. Past speakers for the ABR reading series have included Graciela Limón and Eric Miles Williamson.
For more information on Cronin or the ABR reading series, contact managing editor Dr. Charles Alcorn at (361) 570-4100.