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Upcoming Speakers

Every year, the Schoenfeldt Distinguished Writers Series is committed to bringing two noteworthy guests to University of Portland.


Omar El Akkad, credit Michael Lionstar

Omar El Akkad

El Akkad will join UP for a talk Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in the Buckley Center Auditorium. Book signing to follow.

Omar El Akkad is an award-winning journalist and author of the critically acclaimed debut, American War, a post-apocalyptic novel set during the second American Civil War in the year 2074.  Born in Cairo, Egypt, he grew up in Doha, Qatar before moving to Canada with his family. An award-winning journalist and author, El Akkad has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. El Akkad’s novel American War is a darkly prescient tale of a country and world torn apart by war, conflicts about fossil fuels, environmental catastrophes, and a devastating plague. El Akkad is a recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

A two-minute video on American War can be found here:

Colum McCann, credit Dustin Aksland

Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin is University of Portland's 2018-19 ReadUP selection, and McCann will join UP for a talk Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the Buckley Center Auditorium. Book signing to follow.

The fiction of Irish-born Colum McCann moves seamlessly from the Troubles in Ireland to the Romani camps of Eastern Europe to the dizzying heights of the World Trade Center.  His 2009 novel Let the Great World Spin was a bestseller on four continents, was recognized with major awards from eight nations, including the National Book Award.  Set on a single day in 1974 when Philippe Petit walked between the World Trade Center Towers on a tightrope, the novel draws lines or radical empathy between a dozen characters from diverse corners of the city. McCann is currently adapting the novel for a film version by director J.J. Abrams.  His writing has been published in a great many periodicals including The New Yorker, Esquire, The Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic, GQ, Tin House, The New York Times, The Irish Times, and The Guardian. He wrote a short film Everything in This Country Must, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. In addition to the National Book Award, McCann has won a Pushcart Prize, a Rooney Prize, and an Irish Novel of the Year Award, among other honors.  He was appointed to the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 2009, received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017. McCann, who holds dual Irish-American citizenship, currently lives in New York City, where he teaches creative writing at Hunter College.