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English Department hosts writer Bill Roorbach in Mary Louise White Series
Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bill Roorbach
Bill Roorbach

Bill Roorbach, whose writing encompasses both fiction and non-fiction, will meet SUNY Fredonia students on Thursday, Nov. 1, as part of the English Department’s Mary Louise White Visiting Writers’ Series.

Now retired from academia to pursue a full-time writing career, Roorbach has authored eight books, including “Big Bend,” winner of the Flannery O’Connor Prize and the O’Henry Prize; “Into the Woods” and “Temple Stream.” His next novel, “Life Among Giants,” is due to be published in 2012. The tenth anniversary of Roorbach’s craft book, “Writing Life Stories,” is utilized in writing programs around the world.

More than a dozen publications, including Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and New York, have published Roorbach stories.

During his campus visit, Roorbach will conduct a craft talk at 4 p.m., followed by a reading and book signing and sale at 7 p.m. Both events will take place at 202 McEwen and are free and open to the public.

A Chicago native, Roorbach earned a bachelor’s degree in Individual and Interdisciplinary Studies from Ithaca College and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia University, where he won a School of Arts Fellowship and a Fellowship of Distinction and served as a fiction editor of “Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Prose.”

In the nearly dozen years that separated his undergraduate and graduate studies, Roorbach played guitar and sang in a string of music groups, put in a brief stint on a cattle ranch and worked as a carpenter, plumber and handyman – all while writing. He sold his first book, “Summers With Juliet,” to Houghton Mifflin shortly after earning his graduate degree.

Roorbach has held teaching positions at the University of Maine at Farmington, Colby College and Ohio State University; his last academic position was the Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts. A comic video memoir about his tragic music career, "I Used to Play in Bands," and all kinds of other work, including a current blog on writers and writing and just about everything else (with author David Gessner) is online at

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