Printer’s Row Lit Fest Seeks Volunteers & A Reading by Mahmoud Saeed

Chicago Tribune’s annual Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest, drawing more than 125,000 book lovers and featuring over 250 authors and 150 booksellers, is approaching. Events will run all weekend on June 8th – 9th, 2013. The event’s success relies on over 200 volunteers and the organizers are looking for more help!

Benefits of being a Lit Fest Volunteer include free t-shirt, free lunch and rubbing elbows with authors such as Judy Blume, cartoonist Art Spiegelman, celebrity chef Rick Bayless and more.

The volunteer application can be found online at: More information about this year’s presenters and other frequently asked questions can be found at:


The DePaul Humanities Center invites the DePaul community to attend a conversation with author Mahmoud Saeed and translator Kay Heikkenen about the just-released English translation of Saeed’s landmark Arab novel, Ben Barka Lane. Join them on Wednesday, May 22nd from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in room 400 of the Richardson Library (2350 N. Kenmore Avenue).

Saeed 05 22 13 libraryOriginally banned in Iraq, Ben Barka Lane was later presented with the Iraqi Ministry of Information Award.  It now appears for the first time in English translation.

In Ben Barka Lane we see the Morocco of the late 1960s through the eyes of a young political exile from Iraq—its beauty and misery, its unforgettable people. In this contemporary classic, Mahmoud Saeed offers us a unique portrait of a time and place, and a tale of the passion, politics, vengeance, and betrayal that take place there. “A landmark of the modern Arab novel,” in the words of one critic, Ben Barka Lane is now, at last, in English translation, as compelling today as when first published.

Sharqi, a political refugee from Iraq, comes to Morocco in 1964 and finds work as a high-school teacher in the small city of al-Mohammadiya. But Morocco proves no safe haven: the country is in political and social turmoil, as the state suppresses the recent leftist opposition led by Mahdi ben Barka. The opposition is scattered and the Hassan government is cracking down everywhere. Al-Mahdi himself has been forced to flee and has disappeared; rumor claims he has been killed in France. Sharqi just intends to keep his head down, and ride out the chaos. But he meets Habib, a friend and comrade of al-Mahdi, who, despite a severe heart condition, is considered a threat by the government. Habib is living in a kind of internal exile; his residence is now restricted by the government to this small town. Under these difficult circumstances, Sharqi and Habib form a close bond of friendship. But this brief respite ends with the appearance of Ruqayya, a beautiful young woman whose mysterious motives will divide them, and set off a chain of events and intrigue that no one could foresee.

Mahmoud Saeed, a prominent Iraqi novelist, has written more than 20 novels and short story collections. He was imprisoned several times and left Iraq in 1985 after the authorities banned the publication of some of his novels, including Ben Barka Lane (1970), which later won the Ministry of Information Award in 1994. He is an Arabic language instructor and author-in-residence at DePaul University in Chicago. He and his work have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Al Jazeera, and The New Yorker.

Kay Heikkinen received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and now teaches Arabic language at the University of Chicago. She is the translator of In the Time of Love by Naguib Mahfouz.



Early October Events

Believe it or not, next week begins the month of October, and once again, there are tons of great literary events happening on and around campus. Grab your calendars, and we’ll see you there!

One Book One Chicago at Depaul- Oct. 2nd and 10th

Every year, the city of Chicago and Chicago Public Libraries host a series of events for the One Book, One Chicago (OBOC) program, an “opportunity to engage and enlighten our residents, foster a sense of community and create a culture of reading in our city.” DePaul University is proud to be the host of two OBOC events this October:

The Book Thief and the History of Reading
Tuesday, October 2nd, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus
Arts and Letters Hall, Room 207
2315 N. Kenmore Avenue
For The Book Thief’s Liesel Meminger, reading is a means of both resistance and reconciliation. With attention to literature’s changing material and interpretive practices, DePaul faculty—Jenny Conary and Marcy Dinius, English; Lisa Z. Sigel, History; and Traci Schlesinger, Sociology—discuss what it has meant to be a reader in different times and places, from early modern Europe to today. Sponsored by DePaul University’s Department of English.

The Book as Object
Wednesday, October 10th, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus
John T. Richardson Library, Room 400
2350 N. Kenmore Avenue
A book exists as more than just a vessel for the written word—it’s an artwork, a collectible and, of course, a target for thieves. Join librarian Kathryn DeGraff and artist Matthew Girson, along with cultural critic Rachel Shteir, author of The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting, as they discuss various personal and cultural ways of experiencing The Book beyond reading. Sponsored by DePaul University’s Department of English.

To find out more about OBOC, this year’s selection, and other events around the city, visit the official OBOC events page. All OBOC events are free and open to the public.

Rose Metal Press Flash Nonfiction Reading- Sept. 28th

Rose Metal Press, co-founded by the DePaul English Department’s Kathleen Rooney, will be celebrating the release of their new book The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction, which “features 26 eminent writers, editors, and teachers offering expert analysis, focused exercises, and helpful examples of what make the brief essay form such a perfect medium for experimentation, insight, and illumination” with a reading this Friday, September 28th.

The reading will take place at The Book Cellar, located at 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., and will feature readings by new DePaul faculty member Barrie Jean Borich, as well as Phillip Graham, Jenny Boully and Sue William Silverman, who are all featured in the collection. This event is free and open to the public. See the event page for more information.

DePaul Humanities Center Presents: Indigenous Poetry- Oct. 4th

The DePaul Humanities Center invites everyone to join them at the opening event for the Humanities Center’s New Voices in the Humanities series on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. in room 314 of the DePaul Student Center (a reception will precede at 5:30 pm) for an evening of poetry and discussion with three of North America’s most exciting young Indigenous poets.

Natalie Diaz, Santee Frazier, and Orlando White will read selections from their poetry, followed by a discussion and audience Q&A moderated by DePaul Professor Mark Turcotte, exploring ways in which the poets’ Native beliefs and traditions influence and are expressed in their art.

Click on the poster to read more about this event and its three featured poets.

Visiting Writer’s Series: “Writer as Editor/ Editor as Writer” – Oct 5th

The second event in the DePaul Visiting Writer’s Series features Phong Nguyen and Michael Nye and is entitled “Writer as Editor/Editor as Writer” and it takes place on Friday October 5th from 11:30 AM-1:30 PM in Room 115 of the Richardson Library. Lunch will be served.

Please click on the poster for more information about the two featured writers and their upcoming conversation.

Society of Midland Authors Presents: An Evening with Mahmoud Saeed – Oct. 9th

Chicago author and DePaul Visiting Professor Mahmoud Saeed, a native of Iraq, will discuss his novel The World Through the Eyes of Angels, in a Society of Midland Authors program Oct. 9th at the Cliff Dwellers Club, along with one of his translators, Allen Salter of Chicago.

Saeed has written more than 20 novels and short story collections, starting with “Port Saeed and Other Stories” in 1963. That same year, Iraq’s first military-Baathist government seized two of his novels and imprisoned him for a year. After being incarcerated six times, Saeed left Iraq in 1985. He has lived in the United States since 1999, and he now teaches Arabic and Arabic culture at DePaul University.

Salter has lived and traveled in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. He has worked as a teacher and translator. Under the pseudonyms Sam Reaves and Dominic Martell, he has published 10 novels.

They will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. Reservations are not required. Admission is free, but the Society will accept donations to defray the cost of programs. For more information, see

One Book One Chicago Kickoff, EGSA Conference Keynote Speaker Announced, and More

*REMINDER* Today, Monday April 9th, is the last day to drop a class with no penalty. After today, a “W” will appear on your transcripts if you withdraw.


The deadline for submissions to the April 12th master class with Eileen Pollack has been extended until 9 a.m. TOMORROW, TUESDAY APRIL 10th. This is an exciting opportunity for graduate students in both fiction and creative nonfiction. Pollack is the author of the new novel, Breaking and Entering, which was awarded the 2012 Grub Street National Book Prize and named a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection. She is also a gifted nonfiction author whose innovative textbook and anthology, Creative Nonfiction: A Guide to Form, Content, and Style, with Readings, was published in 2009 by Wadsworth/Cengage.

If you would like to submit work for consideration for this Master Class, please email an essay or single piece of short fiction to Miles Harvey ( by 9 a.m. tomorrow.


This year’s One Book, One Chicago programming kicks off this week, and DePaul is hosting the first One Book, One Chicago event of the season:

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl in Conversation
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus
John T. Richardson Library
Room 300 (The Rosati Room)
2350 North Kenmore Avenue

All are invited to join DePaul University Department of English professors June Chung, Jim Fairhall, Rebecca Johns-Trissler, and James H. Murphy as they offer a roundtable discussion exploring the affinities between Yiyun Li’s Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and a variety of contemporary and canonical authors, including William Trevor and Anton Chekhov.

Remember to check back with Ex Libris as well as the One Book One Chicago Tumblr site for more OBOC events at DePaul and all around the city.



Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society, is presenting a reading and workshop by novelist Joe Meno tomorrow, April 10th, at 6pm in the Brownstone Annex on first floor of the DePaul Student Center. All students are welcome to attend. Please see the flyer for more information.







This Friday, April 13th is the 2012 EGSA Spring Conference. The day of panels presented by DePaul English graduate students will conclude with a keynote speech by writer and visiting professor Mahmoud Saeed.

EGSA is honored to present Mahmoud Saeed, who will participate in a reading and discussion of his work. He is an award-winning Iraqi writer of more than twenty short story collections and novels including Saddam City and The World Through the Eyes of Angels. The event will take place in the auditorium of Arts & Letters Hall at 7:15, immediately following the conference panels.

All EGSA Conference events, including the Keynote speech, are free and open to the public. Please see the flyer for more details.

Dagoberto Gilb at DePaul and More

Acclaimed fiction writer Dagoberto Gilb will be reading at DePaul next WEDNESDAY, February 29th. The event–co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Center for Latino Research–will take place at 6 p.m. in room 115 of the library, a lovely new reading space on the main floor.

Gilb is the author of The Flowers, Gritos, Woodcuts of Women, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña and The Magic Blood, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award. He wrote his new collection of stories, Before the End, After the Beginning, in the months following a stroke Gilb suffered at his home in Austin, Texas, in 2009. The result is a powerful and triumphant collection that tackles common themes of mortality and identity. A sampling of praise for the book:

“Stark, realistic, and told in mostly gritty matter-of-fact prose . . . Gilb portrays his characters simply and powerfully, without apology; even his unnamed characters represent the plight of not only every working-class Mexicano but Everyman.” —Boston Globe

“Dagoberto Gilb’s mission in Before The End, After the Beginning is not to dazzle and amaze, but to implode myths and misconceptions, to expose us to forgotten and subterranean characters in constant transition and exile; characters inured to injury and pain, heartbreak and woe—yet who never jettison hope for a better life, nor a future uncertain, yet still very much possible. These Chicano dreamers are lovelorn and love-tossed, broken-yet-healing, but most of all, on the road to recovery from an America that shuts its eyes and ears at their very existence. Gilb shows us that every man, woman and child is a citizen of hope, succors the birthright of love and freedom in their hearts, and sin fronteras, can, and will, emerge victorious. Make no mistake about it, by the end of Before The End, After the Beginning, you will be dazzled. And amazed.”—ZZ Packer


Several DePaul English Graduate students have gotten the chance to share their work on the radio via Radio DePaul’s Student Writers Series. If you’ve enjoyed this or any other Radio DePaul program, consider voting for Radio DePaul in the annual MTV Woodie Award for Best College Radio Station. Radio DePaul has already made it into the top 25, so all you have to do is click over to and click one more time to cast your vote! This round of voting ends Monday, February 27th.


The Summer Literary Seminars writing contest has extended its deadline. By popular demand and due to multiple requests from those attending the AWP Conference in Chicago, they have decided to extend the contest deadline to March 6th, 2012. Look for Summer Literary Seminars at their table at the AWP book fair.


And finally, it has just been announced that acclaimed Iraqi author Mahmoud Saeed, a writer in residence at DePaul will be teaching a literature course this Spring quarter. In MOL 309-301: The Novelist’s World, atudents will study his own works, in English. The class will be held at the Lincoln Park Campus T/TH 4:20-5:50pm. If you are interested in obtaining special permission to enroll in this unique class, please see your program director for more information.

Spotlight on: Mahmoud Saeed

This Tuesday, join the DePaul Humanities Center in a very special event with one of DePaul’s visiting writers. Iraqi writer Mahmoud Saeed is marking the release of his newest novel in translation, The World Through the Eyes of Angels with readings from his writings and a round table discussion with Saeed and DePaul faculty members Nesreen Akhtarkhavari (Modern Languages), Carolyn Goffman (English), and Michael McIntyre (International Studies). The event will take place Tuesday, January 31st in room 314 of the Student Center. It will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., and the reading and conversation will start at 6 p.m. 

Mahmoud Saeed is Visiting Fellow/Writer in Residence at the Humanities Center, and also teaches courses in the department of Modern Languages.  A prominent and award-winning Iraqi novelist, he has written more than twenty novels and short story collections. He was born and raised in Mosul, one of the oldest cities in the world, and was imprisoned several times by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Saeed left Iraq in 1985 after the authorities banned the publication of some of his novels, including Zanka bin Baraka (1970), which went on to win Iraq’s Ministry of Information Award in 1993.

Saeed’s first novel translated into English was 2004’s Saddam City (translated from the original title, I Am the One Who Saw). His best-known work, Saddam City is based on his experiences as a political prisoner in Iraq. Claudia Ruth Pierpong gave Saddam City the following review in The New Yorker:

“For all the horror it details, this is a startlingly warm and humane book….the long ordeal is mitigated, both for him and for the reader, by a dose of bitter humor, a share of personal good will, and the mutual trust he discovers among the prisoners….Saeed’s style is plain and direct, without literary pretensions, but with a tone of emotional delicacy that is as odd in the circumstance as it is touching.”

His latest translated novel, The World Through the Eyes of Angels, was the winner of the King Fahd MEST Center for Arabic Literature Translation Award in 2011.

DePaul is very fortunate to have this talented and internationally praised author among our visiting faculty. Tuesday’s reading promises to be a unique opportunity to hear a writer’s perspective on the culture and history of a part of the world that many of us know primarily through war reportage.

The event is free and open to the public.