April brought rave reviews for Jeff VanderMeer and Mary Gaitskill, HWS Trias Writers in Residence for 2016-2017 and 2012-2013 respectively.
The New Yorker praises VanderMeer’s latest novel Borne as “striking” and unique for his ability to “bend the old devices of genre fiction to unaccustomed ends.” For critic Laura Miller, Borne employs the conventions of science fiction while paying homage to “lost and longed-for” fantasy and romance— a distinctive blend that places VanderMeer in a league of his own. The novel, with critical acclaim preceding its April 25 release, follows a young woman in the dystopic future who cares for a mysterious creature named Borne, whose initial innocence evolves into power great enough to disrupt the status quo and threaten his caretaker’s safety.
Paramount Pictures purchased the film rights for VanderMeer’s book in October, as the studio continues pre-production for VanderMeer’s previous novel Annihilation. Both films will be produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush, a cinematic team whose credits also include Oscar winners Fences, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Vandermeer is best known for his trilogy Southern Reach, a New York Times bestselling series that led the newspaper to dub Vandermeer the “weird Thoreau.”
Simultaneously, Gaitskill’s new essay collection titled Somebody with a Little Hammer is being lauded as insightful and haunting by The New York Times’ Dwight Garner. In her first nonfiction work, Gaitskill explores a breadth of experiences, touching on sexuality and gender, creative expression, travel and even politics. Garner praises Gaitskill’s Hammer as “cool and formidable,” writing that Gaitskill’s writing captures reality and truth in ways that many of her peers cannot: “Her fiction taps and cracks the veneer of life.”
In addition to her latest work of nonfiction, Gaitskill has authored five works of fiction. Her 2005 novel Veronica was a National Book Award Nominee, while Because They Wanted To was nominated for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993) and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). Her story “Secretary,” from Bad Behavior, was the basis for the 2002 film of the same name. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught as numerous institutions, most recently at The New School in New York City.
The Trias Residency for Writers is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing. The series was created through a generous bequest from Peter J. Trias ’70, and is designed to give distinguished writers of fiction and poets time to write, while mentoring students of the Colleges. The writers are active in contributing to the artistic community of the Colleges and the City of Geneva.