• Program Details

    For each writer, the Summer Writers Colony consists of a writing workshop, three literary salons, and a variety of additional activities. The schedule of organized activities is Monday through Thursday, with optional Friday activities.

    • 12:30-2:00 p.m. Supplemental Session (craft seminars, panels, and readings)
    • 2:30-5:00 p.m. Workshop
    • 6:00-7:50 p.m. Literary Salon

    2017 Writing Workshops

    The writing workshop is the core of the Writers Colony program. Workshop classes are limited to 12 students. An experienced writer-teacher focuses on student manuscripts, guiding you in the creative acts of self-editing and revision through class exercises and private conferences.

    You register for the Summer Writers Colony by selecting a workshop. Credit students must also register for the Literary Salons, NWRW2551. After you've registered, choose one literary salon (see below) per week and email your salon choices to

    Workshop Choices

    • Fiction (Credit—NWRW3596 Section A; Noncredit—NWRW0596 Section A)

      Sharon Mesmer
    • Nonfiction (Credit—NWRW3596 Section B; Noncredit—NWRW0596 Section B)
      Madge McKeithen
    • Poetry (Credit—NWRW3596 Section C; Noncredit—NWRW0596 Section C)

      Kathleen Ossip
  • Literary Salons Week One


    James Lasdun, The Fall Guy

    Instructor: TBA
    Class Meetings: June 5-7, 6:00 - 7:50p.m.

    The Fall Guy is a complex moral tale as well as a gripping suspense story, probing questions of guilt and betrayal with ruthless incisiveness. This is a book that explores both the passions and the fault-lines in our most defining relationships. Who is the real victim? Who is the perpetrator? And who, ultimately, is the fall guy? Darkly vivid, with an atmosphere of erotic danger, The Fall Guy is Lasdun’s most riveting novel yet.

    Please read The Fall Guy before the start of this literary salon.


    Melissa Broder, So Sad Today

    Instructor: TBA
    Class Meetings: June 5, 6, and 8, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    The acclaimed poet and creator of the popular Twitter account @sosadtoday has written an irreverent, open-hearted collection of essays that delve deeper into the themes she explored anonymously on Twitter. In the essays that make up So Sad Today, Melissa Broder confronts love, addiction, death, illness, anxiety, and the intricacies of identity. Her writing is dedicated to creating a portrait of modern life in all of its aching, dazzling complexity.   


    Please read So Sad Today before the start of this salon.

  • Literary Salons Week Two


    Brenda Shaughnessy, So Much Synth

    Instructor: TBA
    Class Meetings: June 12-14, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    In So Much Synth, Brenda Shaughnessy revisits the romances, isolation, and music of adolescence. This book is composed of equal parts femininity, pain, pleasure, critique and synthesizer. A deep exploration of vulnerability, feminist self-awareness, and the hope there is making any kind of art, Hilton Als of The New Yorker calls the book, "utterly poetic, but essayistic in scope."

    Please read So Much Synth before the start of this salon.


    Paul Beatty, The Sellout

    Instructor: Mira Jacob
    Class Meetings: June 13, 14, and 16, 6:00 p.m.

    From the publisher: A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

    Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

    Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

    Please read The Sellout before the first day of the salon.

  • Literary Salons Week Three


    Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter

    Instructor: TBA
    Class Meetings: June 19-21, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    Sweetbitter is thrilling novel of the senses and a coming-of-age tale, following a small-town girl into the electrifying world of New York City and the education of a lifetime at one of the most exclusive restaurants in Manhattan. The rare debut novel that was also an instant best seller, this book deftly conjures the nonstop and purely adrenalized world of the restaurant. Evoking the infinite possibility of being young in New York with heart-stopping accuracy, this book is about the power of what remains after disillusionment, and the wisdom that comes from experience, sweet and bitter.

    Please read Sweetbitter before the start of this salon.


    Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure

    Instructor: Andrew Zornoza
    Class Meetings: June 20, 21, and 23, 6:00 p.m.

    Little Failure is the all too true story of an immigrant family betting its future on America, as told by a lifelong misfit who finally finds a place for himself in the world through books and words. In 1979, a little boy dragging an enormous fur hat and an overcoat made from the skin of some Soviet woodland creature steps off the plane at New York’s JFK International Airport and into his new American life. His troubles are just beginning. For the former Igor Shteyngart, coming to the United States from the Soviet Union is like stumbling off a monochromatic cliff and landing in a pool of Technicolor. Careening between his Soviet home life and his American aspirations, he finds himself living in two contradictory worlds, wishing for a real home in one. He becomes so strange to his parents that his mother stops bickering with his father long enough to coin the phrase failurchka—“little failure”—which she applies to her once-promising son. With affection. Mostly. From the terrors of Hebrew school to a crash course in first love to a return visit to the homeland that is no longer home, Gary Shteyngart has crafted a ruthlessly brave and funny memoir of searching for every kind of love—family, romantic, and of the self.

    Please read Little Failure before the first day of the salon.