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Pulitzer Prize-winning Novelist Elizabeth Strout to Present Keynote Address at Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar

Elizabeth Strout, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist for her short story collection “Olive Kitteridge,” will present the keynote address at Washington and Lee University’s Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar on Friday, April 25, at 4 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The title of Strout’s talk is “Olive Kitteridge: What Purpose Does She Serve.”

The theme for this year’s Wolfe Seminar is “The Forthrightness of Fiction: Knowing What Olive Knows.” Strout’s keynote address is free and open to the public without registration for the seminar.

“Olive Kitteridge” was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Strout is the author of “The Burgess Boys,” which debuted to critical acclaim, “Abide with Me” and “Amy and Isabelle.”

Strout serves on the faculty of the M.F.A. program at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C. She is a graduate of Bates College in Maine.

“Elizabeth Strout animates the ordinary with astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker in describing Strout’s “Olive Kitteridge.” A collection of 13 short narratives bound together by the presence of a vividly drawn central character, “Olive Kitteridge” focuses on a single small town in Maine, its residents and the circumstances that bind them.

A reviewer in The Boston Globe wrote ” ‘Olive Kitteridge’ is an often painful book to read because of its insistence on life’s sharper realities, but that is precisely what makes it such a gratifying stunner.”

Strout’s first novel, “Amy and Isabelle,” won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and for the Orange Prize in England. Her second novel, “Abide with Me,” was a national bestseller and a Book Sense pick. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine.

The annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Class of 1951 in honor of its classmate Tom Wolfe, who will be in attendance and will offer remarks during the weekend.

In addition to the keynote address on April 25, the seminar includes several panels led by Washington and Lee faculty members Marc Conner, the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee Professor of English, and Karla Murdock, professor of psychology, on Saturday, April 26. Those presentations are open to members of the University community, while others may register for the event by contacting the Office of Special Programs at (540) 458-8723. Additional details are available online.