UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Acclaimed author Mary Gaitskill, this year’s Fisher Family Writer-in-Residence, will give a free public reading of her work at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium.
Gaitskill is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She is the author of seven books of prose, including “Bad Behavior” (1988), a collection of short stories dealing with a variety of taboo subjects. Her most recent collection of personal essays written over the last two decades, “Somebody with a Little Hammer” (2017), covers topics ranging from literature and politics to date rape. Her story “Secretary” was the basis of the feature film of the same name starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader.
New York Times journalist Parul Sehgal wrote this about Gaitskill’s 2015 novel, “The Mare”: “Known for depicting violent sex and lonely people, [Gaitskill] delves into the most frightening subject of all: real connection. … What makes her exciting is her ability to evoke the hidden life, the life unseen, the life we don’t even know we are living.” Alex Clark of The Guardian described “The Mare” as “bold, dramatic and deeply unsettling,” noting “The Mare explores inadequacy, optimism, craziness — and sets them in the context of love, and of need.”
Gaitskill has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and been nominated previously for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle. She has taught at the University of California (Berkeley), the University of Houston, New York University, Brown University, and Syracuse University.
Gaitskill’s reading is part of the Mary E. Rolling Series, which is a program within Penn State’s Creative Writing Program in English and receives generous support from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts; the Department of English; the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment; the Mary E. Rolling Lectureship in Creative Writing; and Penn State University Libraries. The Fisher Family Writer-in-Residence is sponsored by Steven Fisher, a 1970 alumnus in English.