Lyon College has announced its Heasley Prize winner for 2019. Writer Ethan Canin will be on campus Thursday, March 28 to present a public reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Bevens Room in the Brown Fine Arts Building.
Highly regarded as both a novelist and as a short story writer, Canin has ranged in his career from the "breathtaking" short stories of Emperor of the Air to the "stunning" novellas of The Palace Thief, from the "wise and beautiful" short novel Carry Me Across the Water to the "epic" America America.
His short stories, which have been the basis for four Hollywood movies, have appeared in a wide range of magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, and Granta, and they have appeared in many prize anthologies.
The son of a musician and a public-school art teacher, Canin spent his childhood in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California before attending Stanford University, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and then Harvard Medical School.
In time, he gave up his medical career to write and teach creative writing. He is now F. Wendell Miller Professor of English at his alma mater, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he has taught many new writers. In his spare time, he has been remodeling two historic homes, one in the woods of northern Michigan and the other in Iowa City, where he lives with his wife, their three children, and four chickens.
In all, Canin is the author of five novels and two books of short stories. His short stories have been the basis for four Hollywood movies. His novels cover a wide range of characters, settings and themes.
Two are coming-of-age novels. For Kings and Planets is about a young man from rural Missouri who goes to college at Columbia and falls in with another student of unusual genius and influence. America America is told in retrospect by a small-town New York newspaper editor as he relates his high school and college days under the influence of a local millionaire and political activist.
On the other hand, Carry Me Across the Water is about a World War II veteran who returned home, built a highly successful business, and now, as an elderly widower, thinks about returning a highly personal war souvenir he took from a dead Japanese soldier.
His most recent novel, A Doubter’s Almanac, is a successful son’s account of the life of his father, a mathematics genius on the faculty at Princeton whose eccentricities cost him his position and ultimately send him to a backwoods cabin in Michigan where he lives as a hermit. Its double interest lies in its studies of a particular genius and of a family’s survival and triumph over the damage that genius causes.
Canin has won several literary prizes including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the California Book Award/Gold Medal in Literature, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Lyndhurst Prize, the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Prize, and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. He now adds Lyon College’s Heasley Prize.
His reading is free and open to the public.
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