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Pulitzer Prize-winning author to speak Oct. 22

Drawing from life experience is a theme in an American author’s work that he will discuss this week at The University of Toledo.

Novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and teacher Richard Russo will be featured in the UT Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22.


With several distinguished achievements under his belt — including a Pulitzer Prize for his 2001 novel titled Empire Falls — Russo knows the key to good literature.

He will discuss his 1997 book, Straight Man. The novel tells the tale of William Henry Devereaux Jr., a reluctant chairman of the English Department in an underfunded Pennsylvania college, who in the course of a week has his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagines his wife is having an affair with the dean, and wonders if an adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits. All of this leads to the pinnacle where he threatens to kill one of the campus ducks every day on television until his departmental budget is finalized.

“I’m looking forward to talking about my novel Straight Man with the good folks at The University of Toledo, where I plan to kill a duck a day until my demands are met,” Russo joked.

His talk and all lectures in the series will take place in Doermann Theater, located in University Hall on Main Campus. Space is limited for the free, public lectures, so attendees are encouraged to register for tickets in advance at

“Richard Russo is well-known within academic communities for this book, Straight Man. Its setting is a fictionalized university within the Midwest,” said Kelly Moore, interim dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College.

“Richard Russo is a keen observer of what is around him. Often we take for granted what we see, hear or do every day. He is also a writer who reminds us of the importance of paying back — gratitude for those individuals and places that helped to shape us is often overlooked in our 24/7 environment.”

Two more speakers are set for the 2015-16 Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series lineup:

  • Monday, Feb. 1 — Steve Wozniak, a Silicon Valley icon and entrepreneur. Wozniak is known for co-founding Apple Computer Inc. with Steve Jobs.
  • Tuesday, April 5 — Ann Bancroft, one of the world’s pre-eminent polar explorers. Bancroft is an internationally recognized leader who is dedicated to inspiring women, girls and audiences around the world to unleash the power of their dreams.

For additional information, visit or call 419.530.2738.

Media Coverage
The Blade (Oct. 21, 2015)
The Independent Collegian (Oct. 28, 2015)


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