Two award-winning authors began their story together more than two years ago when they got married. Now, they get to share their passion for writing together as they hope to inspire future writers at Virginia Tech who are just beginning their journey.
Tech will host a part of the Creative Writing Visiting Writers 2012 – 2013 series on Friday. Writers from the series include Stephen Dunn, Sandra Beasly, Diana Abu-Jaber and more.
This time, the event will be featuring novelists Victor LaValle and his wife, Emily Raboteau.
“We chose Victor and Emily not only because they are major talents in contemporary fiction, but also because we had heard that Emily was the sister of Albert Raboteau, who works in University Relations here at Virginia Tech," said Matthew Vollmer, assistant English professor at Tech. "We figured they would jump at the chance to visit, and they did.”
Emily Raboteau is a fiction writer, essay writer and professor of creative writing at the City College of New York, in Harlem. Raboteau is the daughter of a black father and a white mother, which presented some sociocultural issues during her childhood. This is thought to have inspired her first novel, "The Professor’s Daughter," which was published in 2005. The novel is about a young woman’s journey to discovering herself despite family loss and racial boundaries.
Raboteau’s second novel, "Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora," was published in January 2013 and was featured in the Washington Times.
Raboteau is the recipient of awards from the Pushcart Prize, the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her writings have appeared in The Guardian, Oxford American, The Believer, Guernica, Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories and Best African American Essays.
“I really enjoyed her first book," said Sophia Huang, freshman university studies major. "The book addresses numerous issues of varying degrees that adolescents may encounter. The protagonist’s dependence on an older figure in the face of obstacles can be reflected in the very way that teenagers today shelter themselves from unfamiliar circumstances or intimidating changes. I look forward to seeing her speak in conference, to hear her insights on her novel.”
LaValle, fellow New York novelist, graduated from Cornell University with a degree in English and completed his graduate work with a master of fine arts of creative writing at Columbia University.
He is author of the short-story collection, "Slapboxing With Jesus," and the novels "The Ecstatic," "Big Machine" and "The Devil in Silver." His novels have been featured in the Washington Times and the New York Times.
LaValle’s "Big Machine," won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel in 2009, as well as the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and an American Book Award in 2010, as well as making many national top ten lists.
"The Devil in Silver," LaValle’s latest work published in August 2012, is the story of a sane man sent for observation to a mental hospital. He teams up with some of the other inmates to fight the mental confusion of the drugs he is required to take, the staff and monster.
“I saw it was the chance to hear from two young, talented, and intimately-connected writers talk about the process of writing and revising and publishing," Vollmer said. "I expect to learn a lot and I know students will too.”