Zambian writer Namwali Serpell will visit Oregon State University on Thursday, Jan. 9 as part of the School of Writing, Literature and Film’s Visiting Writers Series, a series which brings nationally and internationally celebrated writers to OSU.
Serpell, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, published her first novel, The Old Drift, in 2019. During her visit to OSU, Serpell will meet with graduate students for a colloquium prior to a public reading and book signing in the evening.
Serpell has won a number of awards, including the 2015 Caine Prize for African writing for her story “The Sack,” and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers in 2011. She was also selected for Africa39, a 2014 Hay Festival project that identified the most promising African writers under 40 years old.
Keith Scribner, a professor in SWLF and the director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at OSU, said the goal of the Visiting Writers Series is to bring unique voices like Serpell’s to OSU.
“We want to expose the OSU and Corvallis communities to the most diverse, innovative and prominent creative writers that we can,” Scribner said via email.
OSU’s Visiting Writers Series typically hosts three writers a year in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Previous Visiting Writers include Jia Tolentino, Ilya Kaminsky, Melissa Febos, Chang-rae Lee and Ross Gay. OSU SWLF will host the next Visiting Writer in the spring, poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib.
“In Oregon, there’s no other series outside Portland I know of that hosts so many diverse creative voices,” Scribner said via email. “Now more than ever, we need the close contact and exposure to these artists.”
Scribner ultimately encourages students to attend Serpell’s reading, in addition to other events hosted by OSU SWLF, such as the Literary Northwest Series.