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John Edgar Wideman

April 24-25, 2000

Bio

John Edgar Wideman is the only person to have won the PEN/Faulkner Award twice -- in 1984 for Sent For You Yesterday and in 1990 for Philadelphia Fire. His nonfiction book about his brother's conviction for murder, Brothers and Keepers, received a National Book Critics Circle Nomination. In the novel Two Cities (1998), a love story, Wideman explores the survival of an endangered black urban community. In Philadelphia Fire the settings include West Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s--the troubled social, political, academic landscape charred by the bombing of the Afrocentric MOVE house in 1985. Wideman is a graduate of Penn (1963), where he was an All-Big Five, All-Ivy basketball star, and earned both the Rhodes and the Thouron Awards for graduate study. After Oxford, he joined the faculty; he taught English and writing at Penn until 1972. "Wideman's writing," one critic has noted, "strides along in mesmerizing, gliding stretches."

This visit was co-sponsored by Art Sanctuary.