Lee University to Host Pulitzer-Winning Author

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Lee University was recently awarded a Literary Arts Touring Grant from South Arts to host Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler for the 2016-17 Writer’s Festival.

Butler will read on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Rose Lecture Hall located in the Helen DeVos College of Education on the Lee campus. The reading is free and open to the public, and it will be followed by a reception and book signing. He also will speak in an Encore class for senior adults on Southern literature during his visit to campus.

“We are so glad that the Literary Arts Touring Grant has enabled us to bring to Lee an outstanding, contemporary American writer like Butler,” said Dr. William Woolfitt, an English professor at Lee. “Butler writes about the complex interactions between people of different cultures, about Americans who travel overseas and Vietnamese immigrants who relocate to the United States. His writing is poignant, humorous, and insightful.”

Butler has published 16 novels and six volumes of short fiction, including “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain” which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He served in the army in Vietnam from 1969-1972. He recently completed a 40-city book tour in support of “Perfume River,” his new novel.

Butler’s writing explores topics such as empathy, human connection, identity, Vietnam, and the love between parents and children.

The South Florida-Sun Sentinel describes Butler as “literary and entertaining, serious and funny. Within his clear and fluent narratives, there usually nestles complexity, if you care to look for it.”

Along with the Pulitzer, Butler has been awarded the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature, Pushcart Prizes, and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among others. Butler’s work has been translated into 21 languages.

Butler is a Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor at Florida State University. He has lectured at universities, spoken at conferences, and met with writers’ groups in 17 countries as a literary envoy for the United States. Butler has also hosted a live feed about his creative writing process.

Butler’s reading is funded by South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission. South Arts was founded in 1975 to promote the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of arts. It strives to nurture a vibrant quality of life and artistic excellence in the South.

*Photo by Lee University

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