CORVALLIS, Ore. - Novelist Debra Spark will read from her prize-winning new novel, "Good for the Jews," on Friday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at Oregon State University.

The reading will be held in the first floor rotunda of The Valley Library and is free and open to the public.

A writer known for her witty, evocative writing style and compassionate treatment of a wide range of characters, Spark won the 2009 University of Michigan Press Literary Fiction Award for her latest novel.

"Good for the Jews" is set in Madison, Wis., and is based loosely on the biblical book of Esther. At once a mystery, a coming-of-age tale, and a novel of contemporary manners, the novel follows the lives of young, attractive Ellen Hirschorn and her older cousin Mose, a high school teacher who thinks he knows what is "good for the Jews" - and for Ellen, too.

Reviewing the novel in the Chicago Tribune, author and National Public Radio book critic Alan Cheuse noted that the novel was "reminiscent of books as good as George Eliot's 'Middlemarch,'" and called it "a superb, sometimes satirical, and always cutting investigation of the way we all live now."

Spark is the author of two previous novels, "The Ghost of Bridgetown" and "Coconuts for the Saint," as well as "Curious Attractions: Essays on Fiction Writing." Her short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in such national publications as Esquire, Food and Wine, and the New York Times. She is a professor at Colby College and teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at Warren Wilson College. She lives with her husband and son in North Yarmouth, Maine.

Spark's visit to Corvallis is sponsored by the OSU Visiting Writers Series, and supported by the Valley Library, the Office of the Provost, and the OSU Department of English. 

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Marjorie Sandor, 541-737-1648