Authors converge in Cullowhee

The annual Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University will be held this year from Sunday, April 3, though Thursday, April 7, on the WCU campus.

Elizabeth Kostova

Elizabeth Kostova

The festival, in its ninth year, has a long tradition of bringing established and emerging literary talent to Western North Carolina. All Spring Literary Festival events are free and the public is invited. Unless otherwise noted, events take place in the theater of the A.K. Hinds University Center. Authors will sign works after each reading. A full schedule is available on the festival website.

Two highly anticipated events bookend this year’s festival. Starting things off, Elizabeth Kostova, author of “The Historian,” will read and take questions at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, in Illusions, in the University Center. “The Historian,” a tale of three generations of historians on the track of the original Dracula, was the fastest-selling debut novel in American publishing history. Rob Neufeld, book critic for the Asheville Citizen-Times, will moderate a live Web simulcast of the event to allow remote viewer participation.

Alan Weisman

Alan Weisman

Ending the festival is author Alan Weisman, whose “The World Without Us” was a New York Times best-seller and named best nonfiction book of 2007 by both Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. The book, translated into 30 languages, explores the fate of the natural and man-made environment should humans suddenly disappear. Weisman will read and speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in the recital hall of WCU’s Coulter Building.

Three former N.C. poets laureate, Fred Chappell, Kathryn Stripling Byer and Cathy Smith Bowers, will be honored just prior to the Weisman reading during a 5:30 p.m. reception April 7 in Illusions, with each reading from his or her work. RSVP for the reception (for individuals 21 and older) by Thursday, March 24, to Sherri Roper at 828-227-3268 or slroper@wcu.edu.

Other festival authors are:

– Délana Dameron, whose debut collection, “How God Ends Us,” won the 2008 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize

– David Gessner, author of six books of literary nonfiction, including “Sick of Nature,” “Soaring with Fidel” and “Return of the Osprey,” which was chosen as one of the top 10 nonfiction books of the year in 2001 by The Boston Globe

– Don Lee, author of two novels, “Wrack and Ruin” and “Country of Origin,” as well as a story collection, “Yellow”

– Bret Lott, best-selling author of 12 books, most recently the novel “Ancient Highway,” as well as “Jewel,” an Oprah Book Club pick

– Lee Martin, author of the novels “The Bright Forever,” a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, “River of Heaven,” “Quakertown” and the forthcoming “Break the Skin”

– Ginger Murchison, founder of Georgia Tech’s poetry program and reading series whose first collection of poems, “Out Here,” was published in 2008

– Susan Vreeland, author of several art-related novels, including the “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” (made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame production in 2003), which traces an alleged Vermeer painting through the centuries, revealing its influence on those who possessed it

– Frank X Walker, author of four poetry collections, “When Winter Come: The Ascension of York,” “Black Box: Poems,” “Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York,” which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004, and “Affrilachia”

Literary Festival sponsors include WCU’s Visiting Writers Series; the Department of English; the Arts and Cultural Events Series; the Office of the Chancellor; the Office of the Provost; the Division of Student Affairs; and the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The project also received support from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Visitors may park in any spaces not designated as special-use. For directions to campus, go online to http://www.wcu.edu/about-wcu/visit-wcu/directions-to-campus.asp.

For more information about the WCU Literary Festival, contact Mary Adams, literary festival director, at 828-227-3270 or by e-mail at madams@wcu.edu. Visit the festival website at www.litfestival.org, where expanded content this year features links to reader guides and to Facebook discussion pages.