Story Week Festival of Writers at Columbia College | Lit Feature | Chicago Reader

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Story Week Festival of Writers at Columbia College

Featuring Aleksandar Hemon, Joyce Carol Oates, Marcus Sakey, and more


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Columbia College's 14th annual literary festival, this year themed "Genre Bending: The Faces of Fiction," presents readings and discussions featuring fiction writers and Columbia faculty, students, and alumni. Events run Sunday, March 14, through Friday, March 19, and all are free. Unless otherwise noted, the ones listed here take place at the Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium, 400 S. State. For more info call 312-369-7611 or see

This year's headliner is the astoundingly prolific Joyce Carol Oates, who's published more than 100 books, including novels, short-story collections, plays, essays, criticism, and young-adult and children's fiction. Oates signs her latest story collection, Dear Husband, and participates in a Q and A hosted by lit scholar Gavin Cologne-Brookes, author of Dark Eyes on America: The Novels of Joyce Carol Oates (Mon 3/15, 2:30 PM). Later Oates chats with book critic and congenial and informed interviewer Donna Seaman (Mon 3/15, 6 PM).

The panel Genres From Afar features readings by and conversation with locals Achy Obejas (Ruins) and Aleksandar Hemon (Love and Obstacles) and Australian crime writer John Dale (Tue 3/16, 6 PM). Novelist and Columbia faculty member Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps) hosts a panel on the Story Week theme, Genre Bending: The Faces of Fiction (Wed 3/17, 2:30 PM), with Mort Castle (On Writing Horror), Maggie Estep (Alice Fantastic), and David Morrell (First Blood, from whence came Rambo). Donna Seaman moderates the publishing panel Books Under Pressure, with literary agent Michelle Brower, Women & Children First co-owner Linda Bubon, author John Dale, and Akashic Books publisher Johnny Temple (Thu 3/18, 11 AM).

Local mystery writer Marcus Sakey (The Amateurs) interviews David Morrell (The Successful Novelist) for the program The Successful Novelist: Lessons From a Lifetime of Learning (Thu 3/18, 2:30 PM, Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, eighth floor). Kalamazoo-based writer Bonnie Jo Campbell talks about her own superb story collection American Salvage, a 2009 National Book Award finalist in fiction (Wed 3/17, 1 PM, Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, eighth floor).

The always popular Literary Rock & Roll event, themed "Rock the Genre," features readings by Campbell, Hemon, and Sakey and a performance by Vermont's Bread and Puppet Theater (Thu 3/18, 6 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, all-ages). And the Trib's Rick Kogan hosts Story Week's closing event, Story Showcase, with readings by Columbia alumni Michael A. Black (Hostile Takeovers), Sean Chercover (Trigger City), Stephanie Kuehnert (Ballads of Suburbia), and Earl Sewell (Have Mercy), grad student Marc Paoletti (Scorch), and former faculty member Phyllis Eisenstein. —Jerome Ludwig

Other events (at Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, eighth floor, unless otherwise noted):

2nd Story storytelling show With fiction-writing chair Randy Albers, 2nd Story artistic director Amanda Delheimer, and others; music by DJ White Russian and Seeking Wonderland. Sun 3/14, 7 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 18+

Adjunct faculty reading/open mike Mon 3/15, 11 AM

"Down and Dirty" Graduate reading/open mike. Mon 3/15, 9:30 PM, Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield, 21+

"New Faces of Fiction" Undergrad reading/open mike. Tue 3/16, 11 AM

Full-time fiction-writing faculty reading Tue 3/16, 2:30 PM

"From Page to Stage" Scenes from playwriting students. Wed 3/17, 11 AM

"Genre Bending: The Faces of Fiction" Reading with Mort Castle, Maggie Estep, David Morrell, and Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann. Wed 3/17, 6 PM, Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium, 400 S. State

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