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March 27, 2009
Vol. 50 No. 19

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'Inventing the Abbots' author speaks as part of series

Sue Miller
Novelist Sue Miller will read as part of The Writers' Institute's Visiting Writers Series on Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium in Seibert Hall.

Miller's reading is the second annual reading sponsored by an endowment from Susquehanna alumna and Board of Trustees member Sue Yenchko.

"It's been a real asset to the Writers' Institute to have Sue Yenchko as a financial supporter, but even better, it's been a pleasure for all the writing faculty to get to know her as the lively and interesting person she is," Gary Fincke, director of the Writers' Institute, said.

Described on Barnes & Noble's Web site,, as "one of our most elegant and widely-celebrated chroniclers of family life," Miller is the author of several best-selling novels.

Two of her books, "The Good Mother" and "Inventing the Abbots," were made into feature films.

In 2000, her novel "While I Was Gone" was selected by Oprah's Book Club. Miller published her first book of nonfiction, "The Story of My Father," in 2003.

According to a review published in The Washington Post and listed on Barnes & Noble's Web site, Miller's 2005 novel, "'Lost in the Forest' is a shining affirmation that [Miller's] power only continues to grow."

Throughout the course of her career, Miller has received many awards and fellowships. Such accolades include the Carl Sandburg Award, Kate Chopin Literary Award, Henry Miller Award, MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Yaddo Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship.

"Sue Miller has insight into American culture, and she's unafraid to take risks," Tom Bailey, professor of English and creative writing said. He described her writing as both "harrowing" and "unsettling."

"'The Good Mother' is one of the very best novels of the late 20th century," Bailey said of Miller's first novel, which was published in 1980. "It was so ahead of its time," he said, referring to the way Miller portrays sexuality in her writing. "Since then, she has continued to publish prolifically novels that are well-received and best-sellers."

"Each time I read one of Sue Miller's novels, I'm struck not only by the superiority of her writing, but by how emotionally invested I become in the story," Sarah Turcotte, senior creative writing major said.

Turcotte said she has read several of Miller's novels over the past few years.

"Her prose is at the same time elegant and powerful [...] the story lines she creates are original and at times shockingly honest, hilarious and poignantly heartfelt, but those are just some of Miller's strengths," Turcotte said.

"Miller writes about the complexities and joys of life particularly within families and what makes me love reading her work is the simple fact that I believe in these stories and come to understand and care about these characters," Turcotte said. "Each of her novels inhabits my life long after the story is finished."

Books by Miller will be available for purchase and signing following the reading.

Miller is the sixth of seven visiting writers scheduled to read during the 2008-09 academic year.

Past visiting writers have included Forrest Gander, Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly, G.C. Waldrep and Bob Shacochis.

The final reading hosted by the Writers' Institute will be given by alumna Catherine Pierce '00 at the launch of the 2009 RiverCraft magazine on Monday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium of Seibert Hall.


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