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FMU to hold Pee Dee Fiction Festival, Nov. 9-11

            FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University will hold the first Pee Dee Fiction Festival, Nov. 9-11.

            The three-day festival will celebrate the book. All scheduled events will be held in the Cauthen Educational Media Center’s Lowrimore Auditorium on the FMU campus. Admission is free and open to the public, and registration is required by Nov. 7. To register, call the FMU Department of English, Modern Languages and Philosophy at 843-661-1371.

            The event will feature authors Andre Dubus III, Ellen Gilchrist, and Dinah Johnson, as well as panel discussions, readings, and book signings. Many fiction topics will be covered, including screenwriting, Christian fiction, “front porch stories,” and regionalism. Two screenings of the film “House of Sand and Fog,” based on Dubus’s book of the same name, will also be shown.

            The festival is being organized by FMU English professors Ed Eleazer and Lynn Kostoff. Several other FMU English faculty will participate in the events as well.

            Dubus is the author of a collection of short fiction, “The Cage Keeper and Other Stories,” and the novels “Bluesman,” and “House of Sand and Fog.” He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for fiction, the Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for the Prix De Rome Fellowship from the Academy of Arts and Letters. The basis of a major motion picture (starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly) and published in 25 countries, “House of Sand and Fog” was a fiction finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award, Booksense Book of the Year, and was an Oprah Book Club Selection and No. 1 New York Times bestseller.

            Dubus has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and has taught writing at Harvard University, Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and Emerson College. He is married to performer Fontaine Dollas Dubus. They live in Massachusetts with their three children.

            Gilchrist’s first book was a book of poetry, “The Land Surveyor’s Daughter” (1979). She followed it up with “Riding Out the Tropical Depression: Selected Poems, 1975-1985” (1986). But it was as a fiction writer that she has garnered the most attention. She attracted critical and popular accolades from the publication of her book of short fiction, “In the Land of Dreamy Dreams,” in 1981.

            Gilchrist published her first novel, “The Annunciation,” in 1983, and the following year, a second collection of stories, “Victory Over Japan,” which won the 1984 American Book Award for fiction. Gilchrist has continued to publish fiction, alternating between short story collections and novels. In 2000, she published “Collected Stories,” which features 34 stories from seven different collections spanning her career.

            A native of Mississippi, Gilchrist graduated from Millsaps College and did postgraduate study at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

            Johnson, a native of Charleston, graduated from Spring Valley High School in Columbia. She also graduated from Princeton University, and earned a Ph.D. from Yale University. She teaches at the University of South Carolina.

            Johnson’s primary research interest is African-American children’s literature. She edited, along with Catherine Lewis, a special issue of “African American Review” (1998) devoted to black children’s literature. She also wrote about Chinese American writer Laurence Yep in “Presenting Laurence Yep” (1995). Her current project with St. Martin’s press is a collection of interview-essays with writers, illustrators, editors, publishers and others whose oral narratives are important in fully reconstructing a history of black children’s literature.

            She has begun a career as a writer of children’s books. Her first book, “All Around Town” (1998) consists of a narrative accompanying the photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts, a South Carolina photographer in the early part of the 20th century. Her second book, “Sunday Week” (2000), takes the reader through the week’s activities in the black community, culminating in Sunday services at Lovely Hill Baptist Church in Holly Hill. Her most recent books are “Quinnie Blue” (2000) and “Sitting Pretty: A Celebration of Black Dolls” (2000).

            For more information about the Pee Dee Fiction Festival, visit the festival’s website at

#29 / 9-1-06
Last Published: January 3, 2007 3:08 PM
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