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2015 Literary Awards

The DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH at Purdue University is pleased to announce that Roz Chast will be our distinguished writer for the 2015 Literary Awards celebration, which will take place on April 15, 2015.

The following events are planned:

April 15, 4:30 pm - Literary Awards pre-dinner reception, Anniversary Drawing Room, Purdue Memorial Union (included with the ticket price for the banquet)

April 15, 5:30 pm - Literary Awards Banquet, North Ballroom, Purdue Memorial Union. The Banquet includes dinner, the Literary Awards ceremony and remarks from Ms. Chast about the creative process. Tickets ($25 adults/$17 students) can be purchased in Room 324, Heavilon Hall on the Purdue Campus beginning in March of 2015.

April 15, 8:00 pm - Roz Chast Reading, Loeb Playhouse, Stewart Center. Free and open to the public.

Roz Chast is a brilliant storyteller, whose distinctive drawing style, fascination with the quotidian, and wry humor in the face of human foibles come together in the fine art of cartooning.  Chast is best known for her cartoons that have been published regularly in the New Yorker since 1978.  David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, astutely observes about her work, "We've all got anxieties and domestic secrets, but Roz Chast has the genius of comic invention to make them funny."

Over the years, Chast has collaborated on and published several books.  A comprehensive collection of her cartoons from 1978 to 2006, titled Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, appeared in 2006, and her comic exploration of phobias and aversions is featured in What I Hate From A to Z (2011).  She has collaborated with Steve Martin on a children's book titled The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! (2007), and she has published two children's books on her own: Too Busy Marco (2010), and Marco Goes to School (2012).  Her most recent collaboration is with songwriter Stephin Merritt and is titled 101 Two-Letter Words (2014), for which Chast created the illustrations. 

Chast has garnered positive critical attention for her graphic memoir Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (2014), which tells the story of her aging parents, who reach a point at which they can no longer live on their own in their apartment in Brooklyn and how she, an only child, gradually becomes ever more involved in making lifestyle and healthcare decisions for them.  This is a heartrending, personal story, and yet somehow Chast interjects moments of humor and tenderness as well.  Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, as the reviewer for Publishers Weekly points out, "achieves the perfect balance of gravitas and humor.  The reader chokes back tears on one page and then bursts out laughing on the next."

Chast was born in 1954 and grew up in Brooklyn.  She graduated in 1977 with a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design.  She soon discovered that cartooning was the medium best suited to the kinds of stories and images she was drawn to.  In 1978, the New Yorker published her cartoon "Little Things," beginning a creative collaboration that has spanned more than three decades.  Today, she lives in Connecticut with her family and pet parrots.  Chast has been honored in many ways during the course of her career.  Among her recent recognitions are receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Dartmouth College in 2011 and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston in 2010, being inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013, and winning the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction in 2014 for Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?  "Chast has always been a master at finding the perfect balance between the literary and the visual," one commentator observes, and we look forward to welcoming her to Purdue in April 2015.