Athens, Ga. – Acclaimed author and journalist Melissa Fay Greene will deliver the 20th Ferdinand Phinizy Lecture April 19 at 1:30 p.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel. Greene’s lecture on “The Literature of Fact and Why Good Writing Still Matters” is free and open to the public. A brief reception will follow.
“Like Melissa herself, her writing is brilliantly sensitive to the hilarious as well as the bittersweet. I am very grateful that she is joining the ranks of truly gifted writers who have come to campus as Phinizy lecturers,” said James C. Cobb, Phinizy Lecture committee chair and the Spalding Distinguished Research Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of history.
Greene was born in Macon and spent her childhood in Ohio before returning to Georgia to make her home in Atlanta. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Emory University. Two of her five books have been named finalists for the National Book Award. In 2011, Greene was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.
Her first book, “Praying for Sheetrock,” published in 1991, chronicled the struggle against racism and political corruption in McIntosh County, Ga., well after the Civil Rights movement supposedly had run its course. In addition to being a National Book Award finalist, “Praying for Sheetrock” received the Robert F. Kennedy and Lillian Smith Awards, among others.
Greene’s next book, “The Temple Bombing,” recounted the events leading up to the 1958 bombing of Atlanta’s Temple, a reform Jewish synagogue, by anti-Semitic white supremacists. Greene captured both the hatred and suspicion that swirled around the bombing and the courage and determination that transformed the tragedy into a symbol of Jewish-African American cooperation in civil rights-era Atlanta. Also a National Book Award finalist, “The Temple Bombing” received the Southern Book Circle Critics Award, among others.
Greene’s most recent book, “No Biking in the House Without a Helmet,” is a slice taken from her life as parent reflecting on the experience of bringing nine children born on three continents into the same household—and all the laughter and occasional tears that happened along the way.
The Ferdinand Phinizy Lectureship was established and endowed by Phinizy Calhoun, UGA class of 1900, as a memorial to his grandfather, Ferdinand Phinizy, who was a graduate of the UGA class of 1838. From economist John Kenneth Galbraith to novelists Walker Percy and Richard Ford, the Phinizy Lectures have featured some of the nation’s most distinguished writers and thinkers over their nearly 60-year span.