Babel’s Abraham Verghese teaches Buffalo the difference between curing and healing

It is interesting to see how Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel series has evolved over the years. Beyond locale (now residing at Kleinhans Music Hall after its origins in Asbury Hall at Babeville), artistic director (Barbara Cole seamlessly transitioning on from Michael Kelleher), and audience (last night’s crowd had to be the largest since Salman Rushdie and the season’s total far and away the best in its seven years), we now are beginning to see how expansive the title of “writer” truly is. The announcement of next season’s final speaker…

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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 at such a large venue like Kleinhans Music Hall, new Just Buffalo Literary Center Artistic Director Barbara Cole’s was ushered in at a definite peak. Assured and unafraid to talk at length, Cole’s introduction played…

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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 five years ago was taking the next step in his professional career and was able to give one last glowing introduction for the night’s international guest artist despite choking up a bit during his thank…

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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 to return backstage until after Michael Kelleher’s introduction of the series’ first American-born author. It was a sign of her enthusiasm and joy in talking to her fans and speaking about her work—each novel a…

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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 is footing a substantial portion of the funding now that the John R. Oshei Foundation‘s start-up capital has ended; the change just warranted mention, although it was good to see Cardoni still in attendance, collecting…

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Salman Rushdie risks his life once more for Just Buffalo’s Babel

And that is why you leave to get in line for an autograph when Mike Kelleher says “final question” with a guy like Salman Rushdie doing the signing. The guy is a rockstar that not only brought the biggest crowd yet for a Just Buffalo Literary Center Babel event, but also attracted the most ever taking advantage of the signature session. It all began with Rushdie relaying how we can all thank Charles Dickens for making authors feel like they were allowed to do ‘the strange thing’ and speak in…

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Finally, I’m in Buffalo! … Babel’s Azar Nafisi

Those four words were definitely not what I expected to escape Azar Nafisi’s lips upon reaching the podium at Kleinhans for 2010’s first installment of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel Series. After Mike Kelleher finished his three pages of introductory notes—including naming three of the four authors to be stopping by this great city next season, listed below—the Iranian-born novelist took that stage and spoke enthusiastically about the children she visited earlier at City Honors. They gave her great insight and enthralled her enough to stay thirty minutes past her…

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“The Curious Novelist” … A.S. Byatt journeys to Buffalo

The 2009-2010 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel has commenced. Attendance didn’t unfortunately sell-out the new venue at Kleinhans, but the crowd was full and above the capacity of Babeville, so the change definitely was necessary. Michael Kelleher announced that this would be the final series under the original commission from the John R. Oshei Foundation, warranting the inclusion of donation envelopes and the dire news that ticket sales wouldn’t be able to sustain the event for its planned fourth season. After all the business, however, and asking for…

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