War Stories of Arab Americans
A talk by Gregory Orfalea, Westmont College
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2011
willwiwwil Gregory Orfalea will discuss the evolution of the Arab American short story, particularly in the context of the pressures of American society and involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts from World War I to Iraq. He will read from the work of such writers as Mikhail Naimy, Patricia Sarrafian Ward, Evelyn Shakir, Joseph Geha, and his own new collection, The Man Who Guarded the Bomb.
Gregory Orfalea is the author of eight books, including Angeleno Days, which won the 2010 Arab American Book Award and was named a Finalist for the PEN USA Award in creative nonfiction. The Arab Americans: A History is the definitive study of that community in the United States and Messengers of the Lost Battalion treats his father’s ill-fated paratrooper unit in World War II. Orfalea’s first collection of short stories, The Man Who Guarded the Bomb appeared in spring 2010. He is currently at work on a biography of Junipero Serra, the Franciscan who was the first white man to walk into and stay in California.
Born and raised in Los Angeles in 1949, Orfalea attended Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California, and later took a degree in English from Georgetown University, where he received the Edward B. Bunn Award for Journalistic Excellence on graduation. His MFA was earned from the University of Alaska. Orfalea directed the Writing Program at Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges and is affiliated with the Claremont Graduate University, where he has taught Fiction. He has also taught at Georgetown University, Cal Lutheran University, and Westmont College.
Richard Rodriguez called Angeleno Days, “delightful and wise.” James Fallows also noted, “Southern California has produced its distinct literary voices, from Nathaniel West and Joan Didion to Walter Mosley and Michael Connelly. Gregory Orfalea is the next in this series, with his moving essays.” In a moment of self-doubt about the value of writing, Orfalea lectured himself: “Take heart. You are creating new life. You are giving life itself—and not the least, your life—a second chance.”
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