Writing the truth … Babel’s Alexandra Fuller

With what might have been the largest audience Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series has seen since Salman Rushdie, novelist Alexandra Fuller brought the house down with her unparalleled candor and humor. Without notes or books to read she treated her lecture as she would one of her works—a carefully composed soliloquy spanning a life […]

Starting and ending in doubt … Babel’s Nuruddin Farah

Deliberately enunciating his words, novelist Nuruddin Farah used a calculated cadence to talk about his tireless ability to find trouble. The second speaker in Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s 2012-2013 Babel series, his Somali roots provide a very interesting connection to Buffalo considering the nation’s past two prime ministers came from here. His own history with […]

Teaching us what it is to be human … Babel’s Russell Banks

As novelist Russell Banks admitted during the first lecture of the 2012-2013 Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel season, he is the series’ first participant with a clear “American accent”. I’m not sure if that fact made my brain marginalize his inclusion because he wasn’t some international luminary from an exotic corner of the world or […]

All new homes come with a clarinet … Babel’s Alexander McCall Smith

The Michael Kelleher-less era of Babel began tonight with one of the biggest crowds the series has ever seen. If Alexander McCall Smith didn’t find himself standing before more audience members than Salman Rushdie two years ago, the numbers must have been close. But while the popular kilt-wearing author is probably used to the spotlight […]

If I were satisfied, I wouldn’t keep doing it … Babel’s Zadie Smith

Not to overshadow the presence of British novelist Zadie Smith ushering in 2012’s year of Babel, the sobering news that Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Michael Kelleher was stepping down as Artistic Director to head up a position at Yale came with some shock and a well-deserved standing ovation. The man who really spearheaded the series […]

Up, down, in, and out … Babel’s Naomi Shihab Nye

Language has ‘the power to carry us away’. This is what Naomi Shihab Nye said when asked why she was drawn to literature. The daughter of a displaced Palestinian journalist—a theme thus far for the 2011/12 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel—she has been enamored by language since a very early age living all […]

Curiosity is a moral virtue … Babel’s Amos Oz

To Amos Oz—the first speaker of the 2011/12 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel—he is just a postman scrawling notes onto the letters of the dead. The Israeli novelist has written many books, but it is his personal history in A Tale of Love and Darkness that has won over hearts and minds the […]

The big man with a small voice … Babel’s Chris Abani

Best. Babel. Ever. It’s as simple as that. Of the twelve authors I have seen over the past two years, besides the more superstar names like Michael Ondaatje and Salman Rushdie—easy fodder to gather excitement on my end to read—Chris Abani is the first to invigorate me enough that I literally want to do nothing […]

The healing power of stories … Babel’s Edwidge Danticat

With the recent earthquake in Japan calling to mind last year’s disaster in Haiti, Just Buffalo Literary Center’s newest Babel visitor couldn’t have been more appropriate. Moved to America at the age of twelve, the Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat found herself at the forefront of media coverage last year—a sort of expert on her Caribbean nation […]

Telling your story brings you home … Babel’s Maxine Hong Kingston

With Ed Cardoni back to open the festivities of the second installment of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s fourth Babel season, one could catch a quick glimpse of Maxine Hong Kingston trying to get on stage. During his tales of art funds and legislature votes and veto prevention, Kingston walked through the door before being asked […]

Writing is a process of endless learning … Babel’s V.S. Naipaul

The fourth season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel Series begun with a glaring omission—there was no Ed Cardoni at the podium on behalf of Hallwalls, replaced instead by the corporate spiel of ‘local global’ from HSBC’s Charlie Mendola, introduced by Just Buffalo’s Laurie Dean Torrell. I can’t blame the guy, though, since his company […]