Madison Smartt Bell reads at WFU

On Nov. 2, the English department brought Madison Smartt Bell, an award-winning novelist, to the Wake Forest campus. The well-known author met students and faculty to read excerpts from his novel, sign copies of his books and answer questions.

“I hope students will learn to view art or life in a slightly different way after going to see a visiting writer,” said John McNally, professor of English and director of the Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series. “Madison Smartt Bell is a significant contemporary fiction writer, and it’s a nice boost for the English department, and the university, to have him on campus.”

“I don’t usually listen to introductions of me, but that was unusually entertaining,” said Bell, after McNally’s introduction, before he launched into a brief description of his newest novel, “The Color of Night.”

Pointing a finger into the air, Bell said, “I like it,” in response to a page number suggested by an audience member, and he began reading from page 35 of “The Color of Night.” “Writing the novel was a pure and powerful experience driven by inspiration,” said Bell during his presentation in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

The auditorium was filled with English students, professors and fans who leaned forward in their seats and listened attentively as Bell read passages from his novel.

Following a question-and-answer session, audience members were invited to talk one-on-one with the author.

“We spend so much time reading the work of dead writers,” McNally said. “It’s nice to bring a living writer to campus every once in a while and say ‘Look!  A living, breathing writer!’ It gives students an opportunity to interact with a writer.”

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