NYS Writers Institute

NYS Writers Institute Announces Spring 2024 Schedule of Events

The NYS Writers Institute announces a new season of events featuring award-winning novelists, poets, playwrights, a diverse collection of contemporary writers, and a series of classic films leading up to the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival.

Guests coming to Albany include:

  • a former Poet Laureate of the United States,
  • three Pulitzer Prize winners,
  • two National Book Award winners,
  • five National Book Award finalists,
  • an Oscar-nominated playwright/actor/director who has won Tony, Obie, and Emmy awards, and…
  • one of America’s most acclaimed and best-loved fiction writers and poets who received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013. And in 2021, Mattel unveiled a Barbie doll in her honor.

“As the Writers Institute opens its 41st year of acclaimed programming in 2024, this remarkable spring lineup reinforces our reputation as one of the nation’s preeminent literary organizations,” said Opalka Endowed Director Paul Grondahl.

“We have always placed a premium on presenting the highest literary quality, discovering new and diverse voices, and challenging our audiences with conversations about difficult subjects in a spirit of tolerance and respect,” said Grondahl. “Our blockbuster season celebrates the 180th anniversary of the founding of the University at Albany featuring superstars such as Paul Harding, Alice McDermott, Tracy Kidder, Lydia Davis, Julia Alverez, Elizabeth Benedict and Tracy K. Smith, former U.S. Poet Laureate of the United States.”

The season kicks off with Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award finalist Paul Harding on Thursday, January 25.  His new novel, This Other Eden (2023), is based on the true story of a multiracial community that took refuge from intolerance on an island off the coast of Maine from 1792 to 1912. The novel presents the lives and experiences of a formerly enslaved Black man and his Irish wife, and multiple generations of their descendants and fellow islanders. Shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize, This Other Eden was also a finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction, and an NPR 2023 “Books We Love” Pick.

As mentioned above, other notable authors coming to Albany this spring include Elizabeth Benedict (January 31) with her new book Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own, a story of her recent encounter with cancer; Tony/Emmy/Obie award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (February 5); biographers Andrew Kirtzman and Terry Golway (March 18) discussing their newly published books on New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Fiorello La Guardia; Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder (March 20) with his new book Rough Sleepers (2023), the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, who invented an unprecedented “community of care” for Boston’s unhoused population; Man Booker International Prize winner Lydia Davis (March 26); National Book Award Alice McDermott (April 11) with her new novel Absolution, about the lives of American women on the margins of the Vietnam War; journalist David Wallace-Wells (April 16), author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (2019); Julia Alvarez (April 18), one of America’s most beloved fiction writers and poets (and in 2021, Mattel unveiled a Barbie doll in her honor); Pulitzer winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith (April 19); Michael Wolff (April 25), author of the bestselling Fire and Fury book about the Trump administration, discussing his new book The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty; and previously announced, artist and photographer William Wegman (February 27), best known for his photographs featuring his Weimaraner dogs.

A season highlight will be the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 6. Featured guests and Ironweed Award winners are to be announced. A series of films with tie-ins to the festival will be screened in February and March in advance of the event.

All events take place on UAlbany’s uptown and downtown campuses and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

For additional information visit www.nyswritersinstitute.org, where you can sign up for email updates, or contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620. Information on the university’s COVID policy: https://www.albany.edu/covid-19/safety-measures.