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Ethiopian And Queens Novelists Pair Up For Reading To Benefit Hunger Relief At Queens College March 25

-- Maaza Mengiste on the last days of Haile Selassie; Chuck Wachtel, on his Queens classic Joe the Engineer and more; and MFA candidates to read from their work--

WHAT: In this semester’s second installment of ‘Read It & Reap,’ now an annual event, students from Queens College’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation will stage literary readings by guest novelists Maaza Mengiste and Chuck Wachtel and read from their own work to benefit hunger relief. W.W. Norton and the authors have donated copies of their books for purchase.

COST: Admission is by a suggested donation of $5.
All proceeds will go to City Harvest, a NYC food rescue organization, for hunger relief.
Canned food donations are also welcome.

WHEN: Thursday, March 25, 6:30 pm
Reception immediately following the readings

WHERE: Student Art Gallery, Klapper Hall, 4th Floor (enter opposite the dining hall), Queens College
For directions, visit

Background: “In our second benefit reading for New York City hunger relief, we’re delighted to feature novelists Maaza Mengiste and Chuck Wachtel. Maaza’s just-published book, Beneath the Lion's Gaze, focuses on the last days of Haile Selassie’s rule and on the long years of violence and turmoil that followed. Chuck’s novels include 3/03 and The Gates, but Queens residents in particular may be interested in his award-winning first novel, Joe the Engineer, set in the South Queens neighborhood where Chuck was raised. The reading also will showcase the talents of MFA Program candidates Michael Alpiner, Michelle Amalfitano, John McLaughlin and Yoshi Tomonaga.

“The MFA Program and the students organizing this reading are committed to giving back the gift—to being of service to the community around us. The ‘Read It & Reap’ benefit reading series is one way writers can make a difference,” says Jocelyn Lieu, 2009-2010 visiting professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, who initiated and coordinated the event. Lieu is the author of the story collection Potential Weapons (Graywolf, 2004) and the 9/11 memoir What Isn’t There: Inside a Season of Change (Nation Books, 2007).

For more information, contact Nicole Cooley, director of the MFA program at

Queens College offers the only MFA in Creative Writing in the borough, giving a diverse student body the opportunity to work closely with award-winning faculty members who are also committed teachers. Faculty include novelist John Weir, winner of the Lambda Literary Award; poet and translator Roger Sedarat, winner of the Hollis Summers Prize in poetry; playwright Richard Schotter, Obie Award nominee and Berman Playwriting Prize winner; poet Kimiko Hahn, winner of the American Book Award in poetry; MFA Director Nicole Cooley, winner of the Walt Whitman Award in poetry; and poet and novelist Jeff Allen, winner of the Heartland Prize for Fiction. For more information, visit


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