Esteemed author and novelist Karen Bender visits campus


Photo 1: Students and professors visited with Bender after her reading and book sale. I HALLIE KING, NEWS EDITOR


Photo 2: Karen Bender reads excerpts from her fictional works in the Howard Room. I HALLIE KING, NEWS EDITOR


On Tuesday, Oct. 23, novelist and short story author Karen E. Bender read excerpts from some of her pieces. The presentation was the second segment of the BACHE Visiting Writers’ 2017-2018 Series and took place at 7 p.m. in the Howard Room.“Every year, BACHE, which is the Birmingham Area Consortium for Higher Education, brings in writers to Birmingham and their job is to come for a week and to read in all of the five campuses in Birmingham,” said Samford English professor Keya Kraft before beginning the presentation.

These higher education institutions include University of Montevallo, Samford University, Birmingham-Southern College, Miles College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The presidents of the respective schools compile resources in order to present a high-quality annual writers’ series.

“No matter the situation or background of each character, each seeks a valuable human connection in the growing chaos of the world around them,” said Davis.

Nearly 80 students, faculty members and visitors listened intently as Bender recited three of her works: the first, a short story titled “Accidental Writer,” explained her first memory that led to her emergence as an author; the second, a piece about home life and a mystical talking cat titled “What the Cat Said” from her collection of short stories, “Refund;” and finally, a semi-autobiographical surrealist fiction titled “The Cell Phone That Would Not Stop Ringing during High Holy Day Services,” loosely based on a personal experience of her cell phone ringing during a Jewish holiday service.

An important part of Bender’s writing process is revision, where she said she learned to develop word choice and condense content and characters before revealing her works to the public.

“The great thing about writing is that you can control the process of revision,” said Bender. “If I have any advice, it’s trust the process of revision.”

Bender’s accolades are prestigious and plentiful. Her short story collection, “Refund,” was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, a shortlist candidate for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, a longlist candidate for the Story Prize and a featured bestseller in the Los Angeles Times.

Her novel “Like Normal People” was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller, a chosen piece for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a Best Book of the Year for The Washington Post. Several of her short works have been featured in national magazines and books, as well as read and heard worldwide.

“This is the great thing about writing. You make bridges with people from all over the world, people you didn’t know you had anything in common with, and they feel what you’ve written,” said Bender. “And it’s wonderful.”

To learn more about Bender, view other upcoming presentation dates and read some of her short pieces, visit her website

Hallie King, News Editor

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