Show of support: Two authors will discuss mentoring on campus

Home page photo of Jessica Soffer by Beowulf Sheehan.
Home page photo of Jessica Soffer by Beowulf Sheehan.

The Daniel Klagsbrun Symposium on Creative Arts and Moral Vision usually brings one successful and inspiring writer to Connecticut College. This year, audiences will get double the pleasure: Bestselling author Colum McCann and new literary sensation Jessica Soffer, a 2007 graduate of the College, will speak during symposium events on Thursday, Nov. 20.

At 4:30 p.m. , the two authors will discuss their mentor-mentee relationship with Blanche Boyd, the Weller Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence who taught Soffer and is a well-known author in her own right. At 7:30 p.m., Soffer and McCann will read from their works and take questions from the audience. Both events take place in the 1941 Room of the College Center at Crozier-Williams, and the authors’ books will be available for sale and signing after the evening event.

Soffer and McCann met at Hunter College, where Soffer earned her MFA and McCann teaches in the Creative Writing program. Her first book, “Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots,” was published in 2013 to widespread acclaim. He is a National Book Award winner for­ “Let the Great World Spin,” which also garnered the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among several major prizes.

"Just after he won the National Book Award, there were a lot of people milling around eager for Colum's attention," Soffer said of her mentor. "He somehow, in his charming way, parlayed that attention on his students.” 

And McCann once wrote of his former pupil, “Soffer's prose is as controlled as it is fresh, as incisive as it is musical. She has arrived early, with an orchestra of talent at her disposal.”

“Jessica is just really good,” Boyd said of Soffer, now an adjunct assistant professor at the College, who started taking Boyd’s classes in her first year at the College and wrote her senior honors thesis under Boyd’s supervision. “And McCann is known as somebody who is a wonderful teacher and mentor for young writer. So I think we’re going to have a lovefest.”

Boyd designs and runs the Klagsbrun Symposium in conjunction with the Klagsbrun family, who established the event in 1989 to create a positive, living memorial to Daniel Klagsbrun '86. Through the generosity and commitment of Daniel's parents, Emilie and Herbert Klagsbrun, the symposium has brought to the College over the years an amazing array of authors, including Saul Bellow, Adrienne Rich, Elie Wiesel, Sandra Cisneros, Joseph Brodsky, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Cunningham, Dorothy Allison, Tobias Wolff, Art Spiegelman, David Sedaris and a host of others.

November 7, 2014