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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monday, September 29 - Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Monday at noon: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s second novel Ms. Hempel Chronicles is the funny, dark close third-person story of a bright, sensitive, if overly eager seventh grade prep school teacher who struggles with how and what adults teach children even as she herself learns how to behave, live, love in the grown-up world. A novel-in-stories, Amy Gerstler writes in Bookforum that Ms. Hempel Chronicles is about “the idea that we’re all just aging, idiosyncratic children snatching at happiness.” Whether assigning students to write their own evaluations of their work with her forged signature, answering candidly questions about sex or teaching perhaps overly challenging texts, Ms. Hempel learns as much about the world as do her students, and confronts the darkness of her own childhood and the delicate sadness and compromise of being an adult. Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s first novel, Madeleine is Sleeping, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Kafka Prize for fiction by an American woman. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, TriQuarterly and Best American Short Stories. She teaches writing at UC San Diego.

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