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John WidemanCallaloo International Symposium at U.Va. Will Focus on and Feature Novelist John Edgar Wideman

March 14, 2000 -- The career and work of one of America's most widely acclaimed writers, John Edgar Wideman, will be the subject of an international symposium honoring him at the University of Virginia March 30-April 1.

Wideman, author of such highly praised novels as "Sent for You Yesterday" and "Philadelphia Fire" and numerous other books of fiction and nonfiction that explore layers of complexity in black urban experiences, will present a reading and booksigning at 8 p.m. Friday, March 31, in the University Chapel. He will participate in various panels, including one on racial profiling and affirmative action, during the symposium, sponsored by Callaloo, the noted journal of African-American and African diaspora arts and letters published at U.Va.

Wideman, whose far-ranging writing has been hailed for its vividness and eloquence, has won, among other awards, the Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction two times and a MacArthur Fellowship. The product of a vibrant, racially mixed neighborhood of Pittsburgh who later became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he writes often about his roots and has explored tragic and difficult events from his own life as gateways to larger issues.

The Callaloo symposium, open to the public, will include American and European scholars discussing international perspectives on Wideman's work. Events include:

Thursday, March 30

4:30 p.m., Rotunda Dome Room, "Virtual Lynching: Racial Profiling, Affirmative Action, Higher Education," a panel discussion, opening with remarks by Wideman

Friday, March 31

10 a.m., Rotunda Dome Room, "True Fictions," a panel discussion of Wideman's fiction

2 p.m., Rotunda Dome Room, "Creative Autobiography," a panel discussion of Wideman's nonfiction

8 p.m., University Chapel, a reading by John Edgar Wideman, followed by a booksigning

On Saturday, April 1, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Wideman and the novelist Percival Everett and poet Harryette Mullen will lead writing workshops with U.Va. and local high school students.

Wideman, who is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has been a visiting writer at numerous colleges and has long worked with secondary schools around the country as a writing consultant. His memoir, "Brothers and Keepers," was about his younger brother, who was convicted and sentenced to life in a robbery and murder case. His most recent novel is "Two Cities," set in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Callaloo, the award-winning international literary journal, founded and edited by U.Va. English professor Charles Rowell, devoted a special issue to Wideman's work in the summer of 1999. "Weight," a short story by Wideman in that issue of Callaloo, has been selected to receive First Prize in the 2000 O. Henry Awards for best stories published in America in the previous year.

Additional information about the conference and a complete schedule is available on the web at

Contact: Ginger Thornton, Callaloo, (804) 924-6637; Bob Brickhouse, U.Va. News Services, (804) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact U.Va. News Services at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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