MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury writers figured prominently in the New York Times Book Review's recent listing of "100 Notable Books of 2009."
The editors of the Book Review on December 6, 2009, named Robert Cohen, professor of English and American literatures, and eight faculty members associated with the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference to their list of the best books of the year.
Cohen's "Amateur Barbarians" (Scribner, 2009) was not the first novel by the former Guggenheim Fellowship recipient to make the New York Times' "100 Notable Books" listing. His "Inspired Sleep" (Scribner, 2001) and "Varieties of Romantic Experience: Stories" (Scribner, 2002) were also favorites of the Book Review earlier in the decade.
A member of the Middlebury faculty since 1997, the prolific Cohen has published five novels and scores of stories and essays in publications ranging from "Harper's" and "GQ" to the "New England Review" and "Paris Review." All of his previous novels have been reprinted in paperback, and "The Here and Now" (Scribner, 1996) also was published in French and Portuguese editions.
"Amateur Barbarians" is about a middle-aged protagonist who goes to Africa leaving his wife back home in New England. Of Cohen, the New York Times reviewer in July said, "The novelist's ear for the way smart people thrust, parry and evade through talk is remarkable; and his prose, at once voluptuous and equivocating, registers the middle-aged ambivalence of people unable to enjoy an unqualified moment."
Bread Loaf faculty
The Book Review also selected works by eight recent or current faculty members at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. They include:
- Stacey D'Erasmo's "The Sky Below" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009)
- Louise Glück's "A Village Life" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009)
- Thomas Mallon's "Yours Ever: People and Their Letters" (Pantheon, 2009)
- Lorrie Moore's "A Gate at the Stairs" (Knopf, 2009)
- Antonya Nelson's "Nothing Right: Short Stories" (Bloomsbury, 2009)
- Joanna Scott's "Follow Me" (Little, Brown, 2009)
- Rebecca Solnit's "A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster" (Viking, 2009)
- Paul Yoon's "Once the Shore: Stories" (Sarabande, 2009)
The director of the writers' conference, Michael Collier, identified D'Erasmo, Mallon, Nelson and Scott as frequent members of the teaching faculty, while Glück, Moore and Yoon have been special guests. The eighth, Solnit, will join the faculty for the first time next summer when the oldest writer's conference in America (founded in 1926) reconvenes at Middlebury's Bread Loaf campus August 11-21, 2010.
Said Collier, "The fact that so many writers on the '100 Notable Books of 2009' have Bread Loaf affiliations is a reflection of the conference's vitality and the central role it continues to play in America's literary culture."
Lorrie Moore's "A Gate at the Stairs" also made the Times' list of "The 10 Best Books of 2009." Moore, who wrote "Birds of America" (Picador, 1999), joined the conference for the first time in 2009.