Inprint series brings the world's best writers to Houston
To help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, acclaimed writer Salman Rushdie is returning to Houston Dec. 3. Inprint officials are hoping this visit won’t be as tumultuous as his last one.
The author was here in 2001 on his first book tour since receiving the infamous death threat that forced him to go into hiding. Although it had been 12 years since the Ayatollah Khomeini issued that threat, 300 angry protestors gathered outside the Alley Theater and chanted “Death to Rushdie!”
The next morning, the World Trade Center in New York was attacked by terrorists and Rushdie was grounded in Houston for three days.
His appearance this year will be in the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater, and he will read fromLuka and the Fire of Life, a new novel he wrote for his son which will be published in November.
Rushdie is only one of numerous rock stars of writing who will be coming — or have come — to Houston for the popular Houston reading series. The list reads like the royalty of world literature, and includes John Updike, Carlos Fuentes, Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Alice Munro, Tony Kushner and Jonathan Franzen.
Perhaps the most popular author to appear was Bill Bryson, best-selling author of books on nearly everything, who filled the Cullen Theatre’s 1,100-plus seats April 20, 2009. A hugely entertaining speaker, Bryson was on a book tour for his new biography of Shakespeare, and like all authors in the series was interviewed on stage after his talk. And that evening, like all others, concluded with a book sale and signing where audience members can meet the author.
Bryson was one of the few nonfiction writers in the series, because Inprint’s “primary focus is on fiction and poetry,” says Rich Levy, Inprint’s executive director. But there have also been big crowds for Rushdie, Joan Didion and John Irving, with smaller turnouts for poets — sometimes fewer than 200 people. “But we are committed to presenting the very best in contemporary poetry because poetry is an essential element of the literary tradition,” explains Levy, himself a poet.
Recruiting writers is a big part of his job — and Levy is uniquely qualified. A graduate of the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned an MFA in poetry, Levy has directed Inprint for the past 15 years. An affable man who works with the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program as well as many groups in the community to develop the series, he also follows national and international literary activities.
“Since 1980, the series has proudly presented more than 300 of the world’s great writers,” he says. They include winners of five Nobel Prizes, 49 Pulitzer Prizes, 45 National Book Awards, and seven Booker Prizes, as well as 13 U.S. Poet Laureates.
The 2010-2011 series features Chinese-American novelists Amy Tan, Monday at Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater; Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, Oct. 11, at the Alley; Rushdie, Dec. 3, at the Wortham; Australian Booker Prize winner Peter Carey, Jan. 24, 2011, at the Alley; African American poet Major Jackson and poet and literary critic Alicia Ostriker Feb. 14, 2011, at the Alley; South Asian novelist and poet Chitra Divakaruni and Chinese-American novelist Gish Jen March 7, 2011, at the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall; and U.S.Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, April 11, 2011, at the Alley.
All readings begin at 7:30 p.m. and general admission is only $5 – one of the best bargains in town – and readings are free for students and seniors. For more information, click here.