Lee News

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Reads at Writer’s Festival



Lee University recently hosted Robert Olen Butler for the first event of the 2016-17 Writer’s Festival. The Pulitzer Prize winning author read to a crowded room and answered audience questions about the creative writing process.

Butler read from “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,” his book of short stories about Vietnamese refugees making their homes in Louisiana.

Butler Reads
Robert Olen Butler reads to a crowded lecture hall


“Butler invites his audiences to travel imaginatively, to cross the barriers that separate us from other people, to find our place in the human family, and to become more compassionate and empathetic,” said Dr. William Woolfitt, director of the Writer’s Festival and Lee professor.

Following the reading, Butler answered questions from the audience on a variety of subjects, including his daily life, his musical tastes, what writing looks like for him, and his perspective on Christianity.

“I truly appreciated not only Robert Olen Butler’s work, but his profound responses to the listeners’ questions,” said Adrianna Barry, a sophomore English literature major.

The evening closed with a dessert reception and a book signing with the author.

Earlier that day, Butler also read from his book and spoke about his writing with the Southern literature Encore class, a course designed for seniors in the community.

Butler Reads to Encore
Butler presents to Encore students


Butler has published 16 novels and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1993 for “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.” A veteran of the Vietnam War, he writes about the complex interactions between people of different cultures, Americans who travel overseas, and Vietnamese who have relocated to the Unites States.

Along with writing, Butler serves as a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Florida State University. He has lectured at universities, spoken at conferences, and met with writers’ groups in 17 countries as a literary envoy for the United States. Butler has hosted a live feed about his creative writing process.

Butler’s reading was funded by South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission. South Arts was founded in 1975 to promote the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of arts. It strives to nurture a vibrant quality of life and artistic excellence in the South.

The Writer’s Festival concludes with poet Susan O’Dell Underwood on Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Rose Lecture Hall.

For more information about the Writer’s Festival, contact Woolfitt at wwoolfitt@leeuniversity.edu.
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