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Readings & Events

The Zell Visiting Writers Series constitutes the backbone of the HZWP events calendar, bringing the world of contemporary literature to Ann Arbor with visits from working writers that include readings, extensive student-moderated Q&A sessions, individual consultations, craft lectures, and public panel discussions with members of our faculty. The Edwards Readings and Webster Readings are organized by first-year and second-year students respectively, and feature their poetry and prose. Post-graduate Zell fellows are regularly invited to introduce and/or open for writers scheduled to visit local bookstore Literati.


In addition to the various reading series, HZWP also seeks to offer an array of programming that incorporates the considerable resources of the University writ large and strengthens ties with the greater Metro Detroit area. Recent such events include the Medical Arts Dinner, an interdisciplinary exchange with members of the University of Michigan Medical Arts Program, and the Fortify Writing Summit, a writing retreat at the Charles T. Fisher Mansion sponsored jointly with Literary Detroit and Write-A-House. The Helen Zell Writers’ Program is committed to fostering community and providing our students with varied opportunities for development as writers, artists, and responsive, invested human beings.



Eileen Pollack "A Perfect Life"

Author's Forum w/Tim McKay
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
5:30-7:30 PM
Library Gallery, Room 100 Hatcher Graduate Library Map
Love and science converge in Eileen Pollack’s luminous new novel, A Perfect Life. With singular insight and narrative grace, Pollack explores the moral complexities of scientific discovery through the story of a brilliant research biologist facing heartrending decisions about her personal life and the fate that genetics may have preordained for her.

Jane Weiss is a young post doc at MIT who is obsessed with finding the genetic marker for Valentine’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that killed her mother. With the clear vision of a scientist, she knows that she and her sister each stand a fifty percent chance of inheriting the disease, and her research is fueled by a need to discover if they are genetic carriers. Having witnessed the devastating effect that Valentine’s had on her parents’ marriage, Jane has vowed to steer clear of love unless she is sure she is free of the disease, refusing to become a burden on anyone else. But that determination is upended when she meets and falls in love with Willie, whose own father died of Valentine’s. Suddenly, with the very real possibility of their relationship ending in tragedy, her research takes on a new ferocity.

“A Perfect Life probes how we live in the face of uncertainty and the ways risk can both disable and empower us. Eileen Pollack has crafted a tender exploration of family love that is as smart and thought-provoking as it is moving.”--Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

“Like Richard Powers’s The Gold Bug Variations and Allegra Goodman’s Intuition, Eileen Pollack’s compelling novel offers an intimate portrait of scientists engaged in research with the potential to change all our lives—and equally engaged in relationships that change their own lives."--Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Servants of the Map

“A tense scientific mystery propels this gripping novel, but what resonates most powerfully are the keenly observed discoveries Jane makes about even deeper mysteries: the risks and pleasures of being human, and the nuances—as well as the costs—of love.”--Kim Edwards, author of The Memory-Keeper's Daughter

With both an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a BS in physics from Yale, Eileen Pollack is uniquely positioned to have written A Perfect Life, bringing both a fiction-writer’s sensibility and a scientific background to the novel. She is the author of two previous novels, two story collections, and two books of nonfiction, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michener Foundation and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Her work has been included in both the Best American Short Stories and the Best American Essays series. Pollack has been a professor at the Helen Zell MFA Program at the University of Michigan since 1999, and was a director of the program for five years. She now divides her time between Ann Arbor and Manhattan.
Building: Hatcher Graduate Library
Event Type: Other
Tags: Books, Culture, Literature, Storytelling, Writing
Source: Happening @ Michigan from University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers' Program

Many HZWP events are free and open to the public. For additional information, including information about co-sponsorships, please contact the MFA Office at 734.615.3710.