Novelist Mitchell S. Jackson to Kick Off 51st Season of Visiting Writers Series at UMass Amherst M.F.A. Program

Mitchell S. Jackson

AMHERST, Mass. – Novelist Mitchell S. Jackson, author of the award-winning debut novel “The Residue Years,” will read from his work on Thursday, Sept. 18 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The program, sponsored by the Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers program at UMass Amherst, begins at 8 p.m. in Commonwealth Honors College Building, room 160 east. Jackson will also show a short documentary film based on his life. Following a question-and-answer period, there will be a book signing, courtesy of Amherst Books.  

Jackson’s debut novel, which tells the story of a mother and son struggling to overcome the influence of the drug trade in a black section of Portland, Ore., has been praised in publications including The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Times of London, and O, the Oprah Magazine. The New York Times wrote, “Jackson’s prose has a spoken-word cadence, the language flying off the page with percussive energy.”

Jackson received a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University. He has received fellowships from Urban Artist Initiative and The Center For Fiction and teaches writing at New York University. His writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Salon and Vice magazine.  

“The Residue Years” was a finalist for the Center For Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel prize and the PEN/Hemingway award for first fiction. It was long-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize for writing and the Chautauqua Prize and named a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was also named an “Honor Book” by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and received notable acclaim from UMass Amherst professor emeritus John Edgar Wideman.

Now celebrating its 51st year, UMass Amherst MFA’s Visiting Writers Series is dedicated to sustaining and enriching the local and university literary community. The reading is free and open to the public.