Wednesday, January 29, 2014
ayana mathis
Ayana Mathis

University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumna and former visiting faculty member Ayana Mathis will present a free reading at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, in the Frank Conroy Reading Room of the Glenn Schaeffer Library, adjacent to the Dey House.

Mathis’ The Twelve Tribes of Hattie was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. What is The Twelve Tribes of Hattie about? In 1923, a teenage Hattie flees Georgia for Philadelphia, where, though her first two babies die because she can't afford medicine, she keeps nine children alive with old southern remedies and sheer love. Saddled with a husband who will bring her nothing but disappointment, she prepares her children for a world she knows will not be kind to them. Their trials are the trials on which the history of America was forged, a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, and a force stronger than love or trouble, the determination to get by and get through.

The story of human persistence in the face of insurmountable adversity resonated with critics. The Publishers Weekly starred review surmised, “Mathis weaves this story with confidence, proving herself a gifted and powerful writer.” And Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winner and a mentor to Mathis during her time at the Writers’ Workshop, says of the debut novel, “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a vibrant and compassionate portrait of a family hardened and scattered by circumstance and yet deeply a family. Its language is elegant in its purity and rigor. The characters are full of life, mingled thing that it is, and dignified by the writer’s judicious tenderness towards them. This first novel is a work of rare maturity.”

Mathis, a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship, this spring will join the faculty at the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Writer's Foundry at St. Joseph’s College.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a graduate program in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonableaccommodation in order to attend this reading, call the Writers’ Workshop in advance at 319-335-0416.

For a UI arts calendar and details about upcoming events visit the Arts Iowa website.