Leah Hager Cohen, critically acclaimed nonfiction writer and novelist, has been appointed Distinguished Writer in Residence at the College of the Holy Cross. Cohen has served as the Jenks Chair of Contemporary American Letters at the College for the last five years. She will assume the three year position on July 1, 2014, and her responsibilities include teaching two classes per year, advising and mentoring students in the Creative Writing Concentration, and contributing to the overall literary life of the College.
“We are delighted that Leah will remain a member of the Holy Cross community. Her strengths as a writer, teacher and mentor make her a perfect fit for this position,” says Margaret Freije, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “Students across disciplines at Holy Cross will benefit from her talents whether they are writing an analytical paper, a fellowship narrative or a work of fiction.”
“I’m moved and immensely pleased that the college has extended this opportunity,” says Cohen. “Working at Holy Cross turned out to be a greater gift than I ever might have anticipated, and being offered a chance to continue that work feels both inspiring and affirming.”
Cohen’s latest novel “No Book but the World” (April 3, 2014) is a powerful exploration of familial love and responsibility. Ava and Fred are siblings, raised in a “free” environment by their progressive parents, who gave little guidance and overlooked Fred’s serious developmental and social impairments. Now adults, Fred is accused of a horrific crime and Ava feels impelled to try to piece together the story of what actually happened. As she is drawn deeper into the unsettling details of the crime, she becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to explain her brother in a way that allows the rest of the world to regard him with sympathy.
The New York Times Book Review declares, “Leah Hager Cohen is one of our foremost chroniclers of the mundane complexities, nuanced tragedies and unexpected tendernesses of human connection.” The San Francisco Chronicle raves, “Cohen’s empathy is sure-footed and seemingly boundless; her writing gifts its characters with glints of ordinary human radiance. It is the possibility of this glinting that ultimately becomes Cohen’s most powerful gift to us, her readers, as well.”
Cohen is the author of five novels, including “The Grief of Others,” which was long-listed for the Orange Prize; selected as a New York Times Notable Book; and named one of the best books of the year by The San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, and Globe and Mail. She is also the author of five nonfiction titles, including “Train Go Sorry” and “I Don’t Know.” She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review.
Her book “The Grief of Others” (Riverhead, 2011) will soon hit the big screen. Production for the movie has started and will shoot in April in Nyack, N.Y. The cast includes Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live”), Wendy Moniz and Trevor St. John (“One Life to Live”); and is directed by Patrick Wang, whose first film, “In the Family,” was nominated for the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.
Cohen will give a reading from “No Book but the World” on Thursday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Rehm Library at the College.
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