Common themes that run in the works of the 11 acclaimed global writers appearing in Houston as part of the Margarett Root Brown Treading Series 2013-2014 include racism, displacement, trans-Atlantic crossings, relationships forged — and undone — by war and politics.
Texas’ leading literary nonprofit, Imprint, will be hosting the series, which launched its 33rd season Monday, Aug. 26. The class of writers on parade is a global guest list, with authors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Peru, the United States and elsewhere. Most have lived in more than one continent.
Inprint’s associate director, Marilyn Jones, admitted: “So few places are homogeneous anymore. This is what the world looks like, and this is what the world writers want to talk about.” The authors will also respond to onstage interviews after their readings, which give the audience a chance to see what they’re really like.
Among the big names this year is Khaled Hosseini, who will be appearing Sept. 23. The author of The Kite Runner, Hosseini will read from his third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, a work still skipping around the top 10 of more than one New York Times best-seller list.
Pulitzer Prize winner, Jhumpa Lahiri, will appear on Oct. 13, while Elizabeth Strout, another Pulitzer Prize winner, will feature on Feb. 24, 2014. Lahiri won the Pulitzer in 2000 for her debut story collection, Interpreter of Maladies. Similarly, Olive Kitteridge, a novel in 13 stories, earned Strout her Pulitzer in 2009.
James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird (appearing Aug. 26) and Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic (Nov. 18) feature 19th-century American abolitionist and social reformer, Frederick Douglass. For McCann, the Irish writer, winner of the National Book Award for Let the Great World Spin, appearing in Texas is a bit of a homecoming, having taught and studied in the city of Texas.
Race also plays a major role in Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, a novel which depicts Nigerian lovers — a woman who has made a life for herself in the U.S. and a man who has become wealthy in a democratic Nigeria — who must decide if and how they’ll be together.