Purchase College Announces the Spring 2023 Durst Distinguished Lecture Series

Susan Choi. {c} 2019 Larry D. Moore. Licensed under CC BY -SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons

Purchase College, SUNY, has  announced that National Book Award winner Susan Choi has been selected to serve as the Spring 2023 Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature. She will offer a reading and conversation on Monday, February 27 at 6pm. Later in the semester she will be in conversation with Professor Rachel Dickstein on Monday, April 3 at 6pm.


Choi’s appearances will serve as the centerpiece of the spring’s Durst Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings renowned writers to the Westchester community.


All events are free and open to the public. Registration is required. Event details, including registration and location, can be found at purchase.edu/durst.


Other highlighted events in the series include a reading and conversation between author Namwali Serpell and Professor Mariel Rodney on Monday, February 13 at 6pm; a conversation between author Lydia Conklin and Professor Mehdi Okasi on Thursday, March 30 at 6pm; and a conversation between author Anthony Marra and Professor Jason Pine on Monday, April 24 at 6pm.


Purchase College President, Milagros (Milly) Peña, said, “We’re proud to celebrate the 10th year of the Durst Distinguished Lecture Series with this wonderful slate of accomplished authors, who are among the most interesting writers publishing today. I look forward to welcoming them to campus for a series of engaging conversations with our faculty members, students, and members of the public. We are sincerely grateful to the Durst family for their continued support which helps enable us to be an important literary and cultural hub for our community.”


Anthony Domestico, an associate professor of Literature at Purchase and chair of the Literature Department, added, “ We’re excited to have a typically stellar slate of writers come to campus this spring, and we look forward to hearing them speak about why and how they create.” 


Namwali Serpell

In Conversation with Professor Mariel Rodney

Monday, February 13, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Born in Lusaka, Zambia, Namwali Serpell is the author of two novels: The Old Drift (2019), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book prize for fiction, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, the Grand Prix des Associations Littéraires Prize for Belles-Lettres, and the LA Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; and The Furrows (2022), named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The New Yorker, Time, and many other publications. She is a tenured full Professor of English at Harvard University and has published two books of criticism: Seven Modes of Uncertainty (2014) and Stranger Faces (2020), which was long listed for a Believer Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. Her many honors include a Windham-Campbell Prize and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award.


Susan Choi

Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature

A Reading and Conversation

Monday, February 27, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Susan Choi is the author of five novels, including American Woman (2004), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; My Education (2014), which won a Lammy Award; and, most recently, Trust Exercise, winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction and named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Time, and the Los Angeles Times, among many other publications. In 2010, Choi was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W. G. Sebald Award. She studied literature at Yale and writing at Cornell and worked for several years as a fact-checker for The New Yorker. She teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and lives in Brooklyn.


Lydia Conklin

In Conversation with Professor Mehdi Okasi

Thursday, March 30, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Lydia Conklin is the author of the story collection Rainbow Rainbow, named a best book of the year by NPR, a Debutiful Best Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Read. They have received a Stegner Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, three Pushcart Prizes, a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland, and fellowships from Emory, MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and Djerassi, among other awards. Their fiction has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, and The Paris Review. They have drawn comics for The New Yorker, The Believer, Lenny Letter, and elsewhere. Previously the Helen Zell Visiting Professor in Fiction at the University of Michigan, they currently serve as an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Vanderbilt University.


Susan Choi

Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature

In Conversation with Professor Rachel Dickstein

Monday, April 3, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Anthony Marra

In Conversation with Professor Jason Pine

Monday, April 24, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Anthony Marra is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, as well as the Anisfield-Wolf Book prize for fiction. His most recent novel, Mercury Pictures Presents, was published in August of 2022.


For more information about the College, visit www.purchase.edu.