Thrity Umrigar reads at literary festival

Anthony Miller, Opinion editor

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On March 21, best-selling novelist Thrity Umrigar came to campus for the second event of the annual Mercyhurst Literary Festival.

Umrigar is a well-renowned author and journalist whose works include “The Space Between Us,” “The Story Hour” and “Everybody’s Son.”

In the past, she has written for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and the book page of the Boston Globe.

Umrigar was a recipient of the Nieman Scholarship at Harvard University, a finalist for the PEN/Open Book award and recipient of the Lambda Literary Award.

Before the main event of the Literary Festival at 8 p.m., Umrigar engaged with students as a mentor.
Umrigar met with students as part of a private workshop, wherein she explained the story of how she became a writer and answered the student questions.

Her reading took place in the Taylor Little Theater. It opened with a short speech by Gregory Brown, professor of English. In it, he thanked those who made the Literary Festival possible, and introduced Umrigar.

The first reading was a chapter from Umrigar’s novel “The Secrets Between Us.” The chapter illustrated the day in the life of Parvati, a poor woman living on the streets, selling a few pieces of food a day as a way to get by.

The second reading was from Umrigar’s novel “Everybody’s Son.” This reading detailed the protagonist’s first visit to his estranged mother in many, many years.

After the readings, there was a question-and-answer session. Questions included where Umrigar got her inspiration to write from, and how she manages to write characters that are both engaging and detestable at the same time.

After the question-and-answer period, Umrigar went into the lobby of Taylor Little Theater to sign books and talk with those present.

The Literary Festival will continue in April, and will conclude with the unveiling of this year’s edition of
the Lumen, Mercyhurst University’s student fine arts magazine.

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