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Department of English Language and Literature

  • Four authors of 2024 Open Book series

The Open Book

(L-R) Hernan Diaz  |  Lauren Groff  |  Robin Coste Lewis  |  Claire Jiménez

Open Book 2024

A literary series, a public course, and a community reading experience all in one, the Open Book is hosted each spring by Elise Blackwell and sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences. The spring 2024 event will feature Hernan Diaz, Lauren Groff, Robin Coste Lewis, and Claire Jiménez. All events are free and open to the public, and all take place at 6pm in the Campus Room of the Capstone Bldg., USC Columbia.

Open Book 2024 is delighted to announce that the books featured this year may all be purchased from our favorite local bookstore, All Good Books in Five Points, Columbia.

Herman Diaz     Hernan Diaz   (March  20)

An immersive story of 1920s Wall Street and a brilliant literary puzzle, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships and the ability of wealth and power to manipulate what passes as truth. Translated into over thirty languages, Trust was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Kirkus Award, was a New York Times bestseller, and appeared on the best-of-the-year lists of dozens of major media outlets. Hernan Diaz, who is also the author of Pulitzer-finalist In the Distance, has received the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Talk by Eli Jelly-Schapiro on Diaz’ Trust, March 18.

Diaz speaks in person, March 20.

Lauren Groff     Lauren Groff   (March 27)

Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. This defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world was an instant bestseller, won the Joyce Carol Oates Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Lauren Groff is the award-winning author of the celebrated short story collections and four novels, and her work regularly appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.

Talk by Holly Crocker on Groff’s Matrix, March 25.

Groff speaks in person, March 27.

Robin Coste Lewis     Robin Coste Lewis   (April 3)

To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness, is a genre-bending exploration of poetry, photography, and human migration that changes the way we see art, the museum, and the Black female figure. It is the winner of the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection. A fascinating speaker, Robin Coste Lewis holds an MTS in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from Harvard University’s Divinity School as well as a PhD in poetry and visual studies from the University of Southern California. She has been awarded the National Book Award and has been a finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Hurston/Wright Award, and the International War Poetry Prize.

Talk by Liz Countryman on Lewis’ To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness, April 1.

Lewis speaks in person, April 3.

Claire Jimenez     Claire Jiménez   (April 10)

When thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy disappeared after track practice without a trace, it left the Ramirez family scarred and scrambling. Twelve years later, her sisters think they may have spotty Ruthy on a raunchy reality television show and again seek to learn what happened to their sister. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a vivid family portrait, exploring the familial bonds between women as well as cycles of generational violence, colonialism, race, and silence. The debut novel by Claire Jiménez, who is also the author of the collection Staten Island StoriesWhat Happened to Ruthy Ramirez, has received a swirl of media attention and glowing reviews in the critical and popular press. Jiménez is also the cofounder of the Puerto Rican Literary Project and the newest creative writing faculty member at the University of South Carolina.

Talk by Elise Blackwell on Jiménez’ What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez, April 8.

Jiménez speaks in person, April 10.

Elise Blackwell


The Open Book is hosted by Elise Blackwell. Blackwell is the author of five novels, most recently The Lower Quarter. Her short prose has appeared in the Atlantic, Witness, Brick, Seed, and other publications. Her work has been named to several best-of-the-year lists, translated into multiple languages, adapted for the stage, and served as inspiration for a Decemberists' song. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of South Carolina, of which she is former director.

View lists of past years' authors.

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