Meet today’s literary stars, and tomorrow’s

October 13, 2017, by


We’re thrilled to report that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen—who will be appearing in the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on Monday, November 13, 7:30 pm, at Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall–-was named one of this year’s 24 recipients of MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowships.

We are happy for him and for all of you, who will have the privilege of hearing him speak on his first appearance in the Series. Don’t miss it—he will be in conversation with Houston native William Broyles, founding editor of Texas Monthly, Academy-Award nominated screenwriter, and author of Brothers in Arms, an account of his return to Vietnam to meet the men and women he fought against during the war. Inprint will join with Houston Public Media to live-stream this reading.

Inprint Dermont WardAnother of the 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellowship recipients is novelist Jesmyn Ward, who appeared in the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series in March 2013. You can watch a video here of her reading from her National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones and her conversation with fellow novelists Amber Dermont and Robert Boswell, on the Inprint website in our Archive of Readings. Continue reading

“The Way Language Can Become a Living Thing”: Tracy K. Smith’s Extraordinary Light

March 11, 2016, by

RM3_2899I walked all over Rice University before heading to Tracy K. Smith’s reading for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series last Monday. I was excited:  it was perfect weather—clouds but not raining, warm but not hot, cool but not cold.  The light was starting to dim.  So what do you do about this—inner or outer weather?  Prose or poetry?  Luckily, Smith does both.

Rice University President David Leebron did some introductions, reminding those of us sitting in the audience that it was the last day of Black History Month, and the ninetieth anniversary of that tradition.  It was also the fiftieth anniversary of the first African-American undergraduates attending Rice.  Smith herself is interested in the intersections between the undergraduate experience and race, and read from her lyric and moving memoir, Ordinary Light, in which part of her narrative concentrates on how she felt as an undergraduate while taking courses that made her profoundly consider what “African-American Studies” meant not just in a course catalogue, but in her negotiations with others (including a white boyfriend who rejected her and broke her heart),and, most importantly, with herself.  Her memoir was a National Book Award finalist—and one can see why:  she explores in her juxtapositions of memory, epiphany, and speculation what her parents (particularly her mother) might have felt and experienced.  Much of this is connected to her mother’s struggles with cancer while Smith was in her twenties—in which she was both “changed and consoled.”  This was one of the challenges that allows Smith to intersect thoughts regarding race, family relationships, education, faith, and religion all in the context of a coming of age narrative that makes the reader feel like they are completely in the author’s head, with very little authorial distance employed—a technique that makes the reader trust Smith from sentence to shining sentence, although the light hardly seems “ordinary,” but clear and illuminating in a memorable and engaging way. Continue reading