On Thursday, April 12, the University of Houston-Victoria will welcome distinguished writer Raymond Federman to campus as the next speaker in the American Book Review reading series.
Federman will appear in the Alcorn Auditorium from 12 to 1:30 p.m. to present his lecture “Is the Novel in Crisis?” and answer audience questions. Copies of Federman’s most recent work Return to Manure published by FC2 in 2006 as well as his American Book Award-winning novel Smiles on Washington Square (1985) will be available for purchase and signing by the author. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Federman has been called one of the literary world’s most innovative authors—a serious postmodernist—a label Federman quickly dismisses. “I never considered myself a postmodern writer. I am a surfictionist. One who writes fiction on top of the fiction of life for life itself is a fiction. A life gains meaning only in its retelling, and since everything that is written is fictive, as Mallarmé once put it, we are all fictitious.”
Born in France in 1928, Federman is a bilingual writer who emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan from 1951-54, he entered college under the G.I. Bill and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University in 1957. He pursued and finished his graduate work at UCLA earning a master of arts degree in 1958 and a Ph.D. in French Literature in 1963. He wrote his Doctoral dissertation on Samuel Beckett. From 1964 until his retirement in 1999, he resided at The State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was promoted to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor in 1992. He is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at SUNY-Buffalo, but resides in San Diego, California.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Raymond Federman is one of the most important writers of the past quarter century,” noted ABR editor Dr. Jeffrey Di Leo. “He is revered by innovative writers all over the world, and has a strong and loyal international following. It is an honor and rare privilege to have him as our guest for the UHV/ABR Speaker Series.”
Federman has published five volumes of poems and is considered one of the world’s foremost scholars on the works and life of Samuel Beckett, but he considers himself primarily a fiction writer. He has written over a dozen novels, which have been translated into German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Rumanian, Hebrew, Dutch, Greek, Japanese, and Chinese. Also, Federman’s critical studies and translations have appeared in many literary magazines both in the U.S. and abroad, including Partisan Review, Paris Review, Chicago Review, Fiction International, North American Review, Mississippi Review, Black Ice, TXT, and others.
Federman has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, and the Les Palmes Academiqes by the French government. In addition to his college teachings, Federman has lectured for U.S. Information Agency in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Japan, and Turkey.
“It’s a unique intellectual opportunity to host a scholar of Raymond Federman’s international reputation at UHV,” said President Tim Hudson. “His appearance in Victoria speaks clearly to the diversity and quality of the Reading Series artists assembled by our editors at the American Book Review.”
In addition to his UHV/ABR Reading Series appearance, Federman will also celebrate Samuel Beckett’s 101st birthday on Friday, April 13, from noon to 1 p.m. with a talk entitled “My Friend, Samuel Beckett" at the Victoria Public Library’s Bronte Room. The event will also be free and open to the public.
The American Book Review, which is sponsoring both events, is an internationally-distributed literary journal with a circulation of about 8,000 copies. The journal moved to UHV in 2006 when Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Jeffrey Di Leo, took over as Publisher and Editor. Past speakers for the ABR Reading Series have included Latina novelist Graciela Limón, National Book Critics Circle Director Eric Miles Williamson, Rice University professor and novelist Justin Cronin, and University of Southern Mississippi professor and poet Angela Ball.
For more information on Federman or the ABR Reading Series, contact Managing Editor Dr. Charles Alcorn at (361) 570-4100.