Award-winning writer to present for Visiting Writers Series

Ali Eteraz will be the latest Visiting Writer to speak on campus, on Feb. 15. Photo courtesy of the Butler University website.


Award-winning author and essayist, Ali Eteraz, is set to present in Butler’s Reilly Room on Feb. 15, as the next speaker in the Visiting Writers Series.

Eteraz is the author of the memoir “Children of Dust” (2009), short story collection “Falsipedies and Fibsiennes” (2014), and his debut novel “Native Believer” (2016).

His short stories and essays have appeared in publications such as the Adirondack Review, Chicago Quarterly Review and Forge Journal.

Emma Hudelson, an English and First Year Seminar professor, emphasizes the style of Eteraz and how he manages to set himself apart from so many other writers.

“His style is quite poetic, heavy on metaphor and surrealism,” Hudelson said. “He’s also quite funny.”

Eteraz’ work has received much critical acclaim, spotlighted by Time Magazine and Pageturner, the literary blog of the New Yorker. His 2009 memoir, “Children of Dust” was selected as the New Statesman’s Book of the Year, as well as featured on PBS, NPR, C-SPAN2 and chosen for the fall reading list by O: The Oprah Magazine.

“Children of Dust” was also called “compelling” by the Washington Post, and deemed “an ambitious and accomplished work of literature” by the The Australian. In 2010, the memoir won a Nautilus Book Award, and received an honorable mention at the San Francisco Book Festival.

His debut novel “Native Believer” is a NYTimes Book Review Editor’s Choice selection.

Eteraz was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and soon moved to the American South as a teenager, which is heavily detailed in his memoir. Hudelson stressed the importance of the content and background of Eteraz and the effect of reading it in the current political context of the United States.

“Because of our current national leadership, it must be harder than ever to be a Muslim in the U.S.,” Hudelson said. “Eteraz’ work provides a portrait of what it means to be a Muslim living in a post-9/11 world, and that portraiture is so needed today.”

Molly Wells, a first-year student in Hudelson’s FYS, detailed her experience reading Eteraz’ work for the first time.

“It really shines a light on my ignorance because his culture is very different than mine,” Wells said. “In the book he describes certain events as commonplace that I would not find commonplace, such as certain religious priorities/ceremonies.”

Wells especially appreciated Eteraz’ writing style.

“I really like how when he tells a story from his childhood, he’s able to get back into his mind as a kid,” she said. “As he’s writing, he tells it from this perspective of himself as a child, and it’s incredibly refreshing as a reader.”

Along with his many other accolades, Eteraz won the 3 Quarks Daily Arts & Literature Prize in 2014. In 2015, he acted as an art consultant to Jenny Holzer for a permanent art installation in Qatar.

In addition to his own publications, Eteraz has also contributed to a number of online publications, such as those in the Guardian, the Washington Post, and Huffington Post. There is also a large amount of secondary literature in which he is featured, most prevalently in academic papers. These include, but are not limited to, the Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press and University of Michigan Press.

Eteraz is the seventh speaker in the Visiting Writers Series and the second of this semester. After Eteraz, there will be four more presenters to finish the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series for this year.

Eteraz will begin his presentation at 7:30 p.m. in Atherton Union’s Reilly Room, Room 104. The event is free and open to the public and will count as a BCR credit for Butler students that attend.

The following day, Eteraz will also serve as the judge for an annual prose contest, an event planned by Butler’s undergraduate literary magazine Manuscripts.


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