Visiting Writers Announced for 42nd Annual Writers’ Festival

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Three distinguished authors will be on campus April 4-5, 2013 for Agnes Scott College’s 42nd Annual Writers’ Festival, the oldest continuous literary event in Georgia. The 2013 visiting authors are Gish Jen, award-winning novelist; Cristina Garcia, a Cuban-American novelist and poet and National Book Award finalist; and Agnes Scott alumna Anjail Ahmad, a poet, teacher and activist.

Gish JenHeld annually since 1972, Agnes Scott’s Writers’ Festival brings nationally acclaimed writers to campus in an atmosphere of community with student writers from the colleges and universities of Georgia. Past visiting writers to the festival include Eudora Welty, Julia Alvarez, Anita Desai, Junot Diaz, Suzan-Lori Parks, Percival Everett, Paul Muldoon, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, Michael S. Harper and Marsha Norman ’69x, H’05.

While on campus, distinguished authors give public readings, award prizes in the festival’s statewide literary competition and conduct workshops for finalists in the competition. Each year, student writers from Georgia colleges and universities submit their fiction, poetry, personal essays and one-act plays to the Writers’ Festival contest. The college received a record breaking 523 entries last year from about 150 students and also received entries from students representing a record number of colleges (21). The deadline for entries for the 2013 Writers’ Festival contest is Dec. 3. For more info, visit

Chinese-American novelist Gish Jen is the author of numerous award-winning books, including the novels World and Town, Mona In the Promised Land, The Love Wife and Typical American, and the collection of stories, Who's Irish?. World and Town (2011), which follows themes as ambitious as globalization, fundamentalism, immigration, and America in the aftermath of Sept. 11, won the Massachusetts Book Award, was a NY Times Editors’ Choice, and was a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Typical American was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self, a collection of her Massey Lectures at Harvard, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2013.

Jen has become an authority on themes of identity in fiction. Her novels often portray individuals, families, and entire communities struggling with questions of race, religion, and upbringing—asking us, in short, what it means to identify as American. Her second novel, Mona in the Promised Land (Vintage, 1997), features a Chinese-American who converts to Judaism, while The Love Wife (2005) portrays an interracial Asian-American family with both biological and adopted children. "As soon as you ask yourself the question, 'What does it mean to be Irish-American, Iranian-American, Greek-American,' you are American," she has said.

Cristina GarciaA fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Jen is also the recipient of grants from the Guggenheim foundation, Radcliffe Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was awarded a Lannan Literary Award in Fiction in 1999 as well as the Mildred and Harold Strauss Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike.

García is the author of five novels: Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A Handbook to Luck and The Lady Matador’s Hotel. García has edited two anthologies, Cubanísimo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature and Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature. Two works for young readers, The Dog Who Loved the Moon and I Wanna Be Your Shoebox were published in 2008. A collection of poetry, The Lesser Tragedy of Death, was published in 2010. Her recent young adult novel, Dreams of Significant Girls, is set in a Swiss boarding school in the 1970s.

Garcia’s forthcoming novel, to be published in May 2013, is King of Cuba, a darkly comic novel featuring a fictionalized Fidel Castro, an octogenarian Miami exile and a rabble of Cuban voices.

Anjail AhmadGarcía’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fourteen languages. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and an NEA grant, among others. Recently, Garcia was a Visiting Professor at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas-Austin and teaches at Texas Tech University most spring semesters. This past fall, Garcia was a Visiting Professor at the University of Miami and is currently University Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University-San Marcos.

Ahmad is associate professor of English and director of creative writing at North Carolina A & T University. She graduated from Agnes Scott in English and Creative Writing in 1992 and received an MFA from New York University in 1994 and a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri- Columbia in 2003.  

Her publications include two volumes of poetry, necessary kindling (2001) and the color of memory (1997).  Her poems have also appeared in The Black Scholar, African American Review, All That Jazz, Ikon, Midlands, O'Henry Magazine, PLUCK, Obsidian III, Estuary Journal and other journals. Her current work includes two new volumes, when i was your angel (poetry and prose) and at the edge of the dusky world: poems of witness, which explores poetry, music, and blindness. She has won the Margaret Walker Alexander Award for Poetry of the College Language Association and has been awarded residencies at the Headland Center for the Arts and Wildacres Retreat.  

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.