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Award-Winning UCSD Novelist to Kick Off New Writing Series

By Ioana Patringenaru | October 9, 2006

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s first book, “Madeleine Is Sleeping,” had only been out for a month when it was nominated for the National Book Award. “It was completely astonishing,” Bynum recalls. “It was dreamy.” And it was only the first of many honors that Bynum, who teaches literature at UCSD, and her first novel, would receive.

In October 2005, Bynum received a Whiting Writers' Award, whose past recipients include Jonathan Franzen and Tony Kushner. In December 2005, Madeleine received the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize at the University of Rochester, whose past recipients include Toni Morrison for “Song of Solomon” and Gail Godwin for “A Southern Family.”

Wednesday, Bynum will kick off UCSD’s New Writing Series for fall 2006, featuring new and established writers reading selections from their latest work. She will be reading from “Madeleine” and from a new book project.

What: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum reads from her first novel, Madeleine Is Sleeping
When: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 11
Where: Visual Arts Performance Space
Cost: Free.

“Madeleine Is Sleeping” follows the dreams of a girl who has fallen in a deep, impenetrable slumber. Fantasy and reality mix as Madeleine leaves home in her dreams for a boarding school and a circus. The Los Angeles Times has called the book “luminous and daring.” “Achingly human and poignantly telling,” the Boston Globe chimed in.

Bynum said part of the book sprung from her love of fairy tales with all their dark, whimsical, disturbing and lovely facets. Her inspiration also came from little-known historical characters she stumbled upon in her readings. She said she looks forward to bringing her book and its characters to life for her audience on October 11. “I’m proud to discover my inner ham,” she said. “When you put a mike and some chairs in front of me, Sammy Davis Jr. comes leaping out.”

A Reading List from Sarah Bynum:

Favorite authors include Deborah Eisenberg, Katharine Davis, Stuart Dybek, Edward P. Jones, Steven Milhauser, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Angela Carter.

Important books include “An Autobiography of Red” by Anne Carson, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “The Blue Flower” by Penelope Fitzgerald and “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte.

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