Statement of Purpose

The Bedri Distinguished Writers Series is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Jonathan Bedri.

The Bedri Distinguished Writer Series was created to provide funds for the Department of English to bring contemporary writers working in narrative fiction or creative nonfiction to the Berkeley campus annually for a short stay.  Nominees for the program are chosen from the finalists or winners of the Nobel, Pulitzer, National Book Critics Circle, Man Booker, or their equivalents. Over a two day visit, invited authors will participate in small setting discussions to be offered in the English Department, and then deliver a keynote talk at a public venue. 

The series has two primary goals: a) to stir excitement, reflection and conversation in the Department of English; b) to give all Berkeley students, alumni and community members within the University’s milieu the opportunity to attend the keynote address. 

It is hoped the endowment will not only enrich the English Department’s presence on campus, but also contribute to the culture of intellectual curiosity, discovery and growth that has long stamped Berkeley as one of the world’s greatest educational institutions. 

JB (BA English Lit, UC Berkeley 1970; MD, U of Maryland, 1974)                          

2022: Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including Claire of the Sea Light, a New York Times notable book; Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist; Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Miami.

April 28th, 2022 at 8 p.m. in 315 Wheeler Hall.

2021: Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan is the author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn. Her newest novel, Manhattan Beach, was published in October 2017 and was a New York Times bestseller.

Thursday, November 4th at 5:00 PM in 315 Wheeler Hall

Caliban's Curse

2019: Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen, University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at USC; winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; author of The Syhmpathizer (2015), Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016), and The Refugees (2017). 

“Caliban’s Curse”

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Thursday, April 4