CLEMSON – Award-winning author Dorothy Allison will share knowledge she has gained from writing and reading about fictional characters during a campus lecture, “Everything I Know About Women, I Learned from Fiction.”

Clemson’s Women’s Studies program will present the free lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Self Auditorium of the Strom Thurmond Institute. This program is open to the public.

A Greenville native and self-described feminist and working-class storyteller, Allison received acclaim in 1992 for her first novel, the largely autobiographical 1992 novel, “Bastard Out of Carolina.”

In a New York Times book review, George Garrett proclaimed the novel “as close to flawless as any reader could ask for” and “simply stunning,” and praised Allison's “perfect ear for speech and its natural rhythms.”

“Bastard Out of Carolina” — with its themes of poverty, family, abuse and survival — became a bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Award, a perennial favorite of reading groups and was made into a 1996 film directed by Angelica Houston.

Elisa Sparks, associate professor of English and director of Clemson’s Women’s Studies program, said Allison is a role model for the creativity and resilience of which women are capable.

“Dorothy Allison is a powerful voice for the humanity of those often demeaned or not seen by our culture; people who are female, poor, Southern and/or sexually unconventional,” said Sparks.

“Her work highlights issues surrounding violence against women that our culture is usually unwilling to face or even to acknowledge,” said Sparks, “and she writes about these issues bravely and beautifully and with such authority that she has won recognition on the highest levels.”

Allison has won numerous awards for her subsequent novels, as well as for her poetry and short stories.

Her 1998 novel “Cavedweller” became a national bestseller, New York Times Notable Book of the Year, finalist for the Lillian Smith Prize and an American Library Association prize winner. She is the 2007 recipient of the Penn Warren Award for Fiction.

Allison is the McGee Professor and writer-in-residence at Davidson College in North Carolina.


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