Three PEN/Hemingway Award Honorees to Read at Sheridan College

Join Ucross Writers Elissa Schappell, Ian Bassingthwaighte, and Ling Ma on Thursday, September 19 at 7 pm

Ucross, Wyoming — September 6, 2019 — Ucross is pleased to announce that three award-winning authors, Elissa Schappell, Ian Bassingthwaighte, and Ling Ma will give a combined reading at Sheridan College on Thursday, September 19. A discussion and book signing will follow. The event, which is co-hosted by Sheridan College and Ucross, will take place from 7-8 pm in Whitney Academic Center W153. It is free and open to the public as part of the statewide “Explore Hemingway” series.

Schappell, Bassingthwaighte, and Ma share the distinguished recognition of having been named finalists for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel in the years 2001, 2018, and 2019, respectively. Ucross has partnered with the PEN/Hemingway Award – founded by Mary Hemingway, wife of Ernest Hemingway – since 1995, and invites the award winner, two runners-up and two honorable mentions for one-month residencies at Ucross. The award is administered by PEN America. The three writers will all be in residence at Ucross during the month of September.

This special literary evening will be moderated by Sarah Sinclair, Dean of Instruction and Academic Services at Sheridan College. Sinclair has led multiple “Explore Hemingway” reading events with writers including Lisa Ko and Yaa Gyasi, as well as a recent discussion with award-winning writer Elizabeth Gilbert (also a Ucross alum) during The Sheridan Press’s 2019 FAB Women’s Conference.

Elissa Schappell is the author of two books of fiction, Use Me, finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, a New York Times “Notable Book” and a Los Angeles Times “Best Book of the Year”, and Blueprints for Building Better Girls, which was chosen as one of the “Best Books of the Year” by The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and O. Her fiction, essays, interviews and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including The Paris Review, The New York Times Book Review, BOMB and SPIN and anthologies such as, The Mrs. Dalloway Reader, In Their Lives, and Lit Riffs. She is a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, former Senior Editor of The Paris Review and was a Founding-editor and Editor-at-Large of Tin House. She teaches in the MFA Fiction Writing Program at Columbia University and the low-residency MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. She lives in Brooklyn.

Ian Bassingthwaighte is the author of Live from Cairo, which was hailed as “a remarkable debut novel written by a promising young writer who captures vivid details and writes masterfully” (The Christian Science Monitor). The novel follows an American attorney, an Egyptian translator, and an Iraqi-American resettlement officer trying to protect a refugee who finds herself trapped in Cairo during the turbulent aftermath of the Spring Awakening. Live from Cairo was named a Best Fiction of 2017 book by Kirkus Reviews and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Bassingthwaighte’s short fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Southern Review, The Common, and others; it is forthcoming in One Story. He was a Fulbright Grantee in Egypt in 2009, where he worked in a legal aid office that served refugees from Iraq, Sudan, and the Horn of Africa. He currently lives in Maine.

Ling Ma is the author of Severance, which was called “a fierce debut from a writer with seemingly boundless imagination. . . A stunning, audacious book with a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might bring” (Michael Schaub, Severance was named a winner of the 2019 New York Public Library Young Lions Prize, the 2019 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and a 2018 Kirkus Prize. It was also named a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was listed as a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. Ma was born in Sanming, China, and grew up in Utah, Nebraska, and Kansas. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Playboy, VICE, Chicago Reader, among others. She currently lives in Chicago.

“We are thrilled that these three highly acclaimed writers will converge for one star-studded reading at Sheridan College,” said Ucross President Sharon Dynak. “The reading will highlight the amazing breadth and diversity of contemporary literary voices that the PEN/Hemingway Award recognizes, and that Ucross has been proud to support over the last twenty-four years.”

The event is part of the “Explore Hemingway” series sponsored by a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, titled “Creating Humanities Communities along Wyoming’s Hemingway Highway.” It is a multi-year initiative that explores Hemingway’s continuing relevance, both in contemporary literature and as an icon. The grant was awarded to Sheridan College in partnership with the Wyoming Humanities Council, Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research, and Ucross.

Recent “Explore Hemingway” events include public talks by PEN/Hemingway Award honorees and Ucross Fellows Yaa Gyasi, Kevin Powers, Suki Kim, and Sigrid Nunez, along with writer, editor and teacher Darla Worden, and Lisa Ko. Other events have included a fundraiser at the Sheridan Inn featuring Phil Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, and a Hemingway-themed “Saturday U” campus event at Sheridan College. The Hemingway Society will host its 19th biennial international conference in Wyoming and Montana in July of 2020.

About Ucross Located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Ucross fosters the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and the experience of the majestic High Plains, while serving as a responsible steward of its 20,000-acre ranch. Residencies are awarded to nearly one hundred artists each year. Ten artists are in residence at one time, typically a mix of four visual artists, four writers, and two composers.

Since its establishment in 1981, Ucross has provided more than 2,100 residencies to writers, visual artists, and composers, including such distinguished fellows as Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Colson Whitehead, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, Bill Morrison, Theaster Gates, Anthony Hernandez, Academy Award and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, recent National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez, and current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. National partners of Ucross include the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Whiting Foundation, the Alliance of Artist Communities, and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. The Ucross Foundation Art Gallery is a significant cultural resource for surrounding communities and beyond. For further information, visit

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