Christine Schutt March 31 and April 7

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee to read from work and discuss the craft of fiction

In 1997, at the distinguished Siddons School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the school year opens with distressing news: Astra Dell, “that pale girl,” “the dancer with all the hair,” is suffering from a rare disease.

And so begins All Souls, the funny, poignant and wickedly original tale of innocence, daring and illness by Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee Christine Schutt.

This spring, Schutt, the Visiting Fannie Hurst Professor of Creative Literature in Washington University’s Department of English in Arts & Sciences, will present two events as part of The Writing Program Reading Series.

Schutt will read from her work at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31. The following week, at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7, Schutt will lead a talk on the craft of fiction.

Both events are free and open to the public and take place in Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall. A reception and book signing immediately will follow each.

For more information, call (314) 935-7130 or email David Schuman at

A finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, All Souls explores the world of private school privilege through the lens of Astra’s illness. But Schutt’s subject is less the elusive Astra herself than the light her ailment shines on those around her, from anorexic best friend, Carlotta, to outcast scholarship student Marlene, to teachers Ms. Mazur and Ms. Wilkes, both of whom turn hospital visiting hours to their respective romantic advantages.

Novelist Maud Casey, writing in The New York Times, notes that, “Schutt’s roving, kaleidoscopic vision — often wickedly funny — captures the quivering of all these souls in the heat of mortality. The collective refrain, ‘That poor Astra Dell,’ is the sheer curtain behind which all the others think they’re hiding.”

Schutt’s previous novel, Florida, was a National Book Award Finalist for fiction in 2004. Her other books include a pair of short short-story collections: A Night, A Day, Another Night, Summer (2005) and Nightwork, chosen by poet John Ashbery as the best book of 1996 for the Times Literary Supplement.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Fiction writer Christine Schutt

WHAT: Reading, talk on fiction

WHEN: Reading from her work: 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31; Talk on fiction: 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7

WHERE: Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall

COST: Free

SPONSOR: The Writing Program in Arts & Sciences

INFORMATION: (314) 935-7130 or

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