Nonfiction writer Eula Biss to read her works at OU

Bridget Janis, Features Editor

Eula Biss, an American nonfiction writer, will be attending Oakland University on Thursday, March 14 to talk about her works with the students, staff and community.

“One of the most exciting writers working in America right now, Eula Biss writes nonfiction but also poetic essays, so she has a great appeal to all of our creative writing students,”  said Katie Hartsock, an English and creative writing professor. “Beyond being a very exciting artist and creative writer, she also writes about a lot of really important social issues.”

Biss will be giving a reading of her current work in progress and will hold a question-and-answer session following the reading. The audience can take this time to ask about topics such as her next book or about her past work.

“For creative writing students, there’s just so much for them to learn about what she does with her craft and her beautiful language, but also the research she puts into her writing as well,” Hartsock said. “She combines creativity and research and poetic effects in unique ways.”

Biss has published three books. Her first book, “The Balloonists,” was published in 2002.

Her second book, “Notes from No Man’s Land,” published in 2009, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. It deals with the issues of race in America. It mostly focuses on what it means it be a white woman and have white privilege.

Her third book, “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” published in 2014, was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014. The book is focuses on the issue of vaccination of children.

“I think the whole community at OU can appreciate her writing, and everyone can appreciate the sort of really complex and interesting ethical questions she’s asking through her work,” said Susan McCarty, assistant professor in creative writing. “I feel like one of the things we do as a university—and especially in the liberal arts program—is we investigate humanism: what it is to be a person in the world.”

Biss has a wide range of topics to discuss, and throughout her novels, there can be something for everyone.

“I’ve talked to some of my students in my Gen Ed class who are nursing students, and they’re really interested because they are interested in the immunization issue,” McCarty said. “[For] the philosophy department, Eula Biss is interested in community ethics. I think medical students, liberal arts students, and everybody in between can get something out of this reading.”

Biss coming to OU will be apart of a series sponsored by the OU Department of English, the Creative Writing program, the Honors College and the Judd Family Endowment.

“Every year, the creative writing program and the English department at OU bring in a number of well-known and well-respected writers,” McCarty said.

In the past, OU has had writers such as Stuart Dybek, a poet and fiction writer; Carolyn Forché, an American poet; and Lorna Goodison, current Poet Laureate of Jamaica.

Eula Biss is special because she is a creative nonfiction writer, but what makes her special among creative nonfiction writers is she writes about and deals with issues of community ethics,” McCarty said.

The event will take place March 14 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Oakland Center Gold Rooms A and B. There will be refreshments.