NATCHITOCHES – Author Ernest Gaines will present a reading at Northwestern State University Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom. Admission is free and open to the public. Gaines will be introduced by former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque.
Gaines is among the most widely read and respected contemporary authors of African-American fiction. He was born in Pointe Coupee Parish and moved to California when he was 15, joining members of his family there because the parish had no high school for African Americans.
After serving in the Army, Gaines enrolled at San Francisco State University where he began publishing in the university’s quarterly literary journal. These stories secured him a place in Stanford University’s graduate program for creative writing. After leaving Stanford, he settled in the San Francisco area.
His novel, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” was published in 1971 and made into a television movie which won nine Emmy Awards. In 1983, he published “A Gathering of Old Men,” which was also adapted for television. Ten years later, he wrote “A Lesson Before Dying,” which was adapted for television in 1999 and is one of his most critically acclaimed novels.
Gaines was named the Louisiana Humanist of the Year and received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1993. In 2000, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal and was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Order of Arts and Letters. That year, he was also named the first recipient of the Louisiana Writer Award.
The reading is funded through a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund. The grant, which was awarded to Julie Kane of the Department of Language and Communication and former faculty member James Crank, allows Northwestern State to bring speakers, artists or scholars to campus to address students and faculty and participate in classes.