Writers@Work Program Welcomes Pulitzer Prize Finalist Karen Russell to Chattanooga

The Chattanooga State Department of Humanities Writers@Work Program is pleased to welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning Karen Russell to Chattanooga for a week-long celebration of its short story collection. orange worldMarch 29-31.

The Writers@Work (W@W) series celebrates Southern literature by integrating the work of selected writers into the Department’s Composition Two course curriculum. Each year, nearly 1,000 students enrolled in Composition Two engage in work-specific activities while practicing essential course skills.

Each spring, the W@W star author comes to Chattanooga to share her work and writing experience with Chattanooga State faculty, staff, students and the public.

Past W@W authors include an impressive list of best-selling, nationally recognized Southern authors, including Terry Kay, Jill McCorkle, Lila Quintero Weaver, Rick Bragg, George Singleton, Ron Rash, Robert Morgan, Tayari Jones , Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly, Daniel Wallace and Ishmael Reed of Chattanooga. Additionally, W@W’s most recent author, Jericho Brown, won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry, The tradition.

This year’s Writers@Work episode features Karen Russell and her collection of short stories Orange World and other stories.

In a review of Russell’s collection, The Washington Post described Russell’s work as “the must-read short story collection of the summer”, stating that “Russell’s ease with his material, his sheer joy on the page, shines through in every piece”. NPR writes that Russell’s work is “brilliant” and “breathtaking” and that “his imagination is boundless”. In a review of orange world, The Wall Street Journal writes that it is a “superb collection”, “a masterpiece” and contains “horrifying [that] always coexists with humor…”

Miami-born Karen Russell won the 2012 and 2018 National Magazine Award for Fiction and her debut novel, Swamplandia!was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2011. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35” award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and is a former member of the Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin.

Russell is also the author of Saint Lucia Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Vampires in Lemongrass: Stories, Gift of sleep: a short storyand more recently, Orange World: and other stories. She is currently an endowed chair in the MFA program at Texas State University and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two children.

The Writers@Work program would like to invite the public to the following events free of charge.


Inside the Mind of Karen Russell: The Interview Behind the Writer

  • Date and time: Tuesday, March 29 at 5:15 p.m.
  • Location: The Hunter Museum of American Art
  • Details: Enjoy beautiful views of the Tennessee River from the lobby of the Hunter Museum on this evening with Karen Russell. Arrive at 5:15 p.m. to experience Baggs McKelvey’s new facility, Indigo; the artist will be on hand to discuss this piece and its connection to the themes of Russell’s collection. Return to the lobby at 6:00 p.m. for Writers@Work’s annual interview night; ChattState English teacher Erica Lux will interview Karen Russell about her journey to becoming a writer, her writing process, and what it means to be a Southern author. Join us at the Hunter Museum of American Art to ask questions, get your books signed, and mingle with fellow community readers at our dessert reception. Find more information about https://www.chattbigread.com/

Those Diabolical Details: How Research Brought orange world to live

  • Date and time: Thursday, March 31 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Venue: virtual zoom event
  • Details: orange world, like all of Karen Russell’s work, is rich in fantastical detail that brings these magical worlds to life. In this virtual Chautauqua reunion, Russell will discuss his research process for orange world and answer questions from participants. Free registration is available at www.chattbigread.org. Find more information about https://www.chattbigread.com/