OSWEGO — Award-winning author Timothy Egan, whose book “The Worst Hard Time” follows heartland families and communities as they struggle to survive the 1930s Dust Bowl, will make a free public presentation at 7 p.m. Sept. 25, in SUNY Oswego’s Hewitt Union ballroom.
Winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2006, “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl” is this year’s Oswego Reading Initiative book on campus and among community members wishing to participate. It dramatically evokes the era of extreme dust storms brought on by drought and overuse of land through market-driven farming methods.
“The message is so important,” said Associate Provost Rameen Mohammadi, who chairs the ORI selection committee at SUNY Oswego. “As a campus that cares so much about sustainability and what we do to the Earth and how much responsibility we have, what have we done before and what have we learned from it?”
The New Yorker wrote of the book, “The ecological disaster rapidly disfigured whole communities. Egan’s portraits of the families who stayed behind are sobering and far less familiar than those of the ‘exodusters’ who staggered out of the High Plains. He tells of towns depopulated to this day, a mother who watched her baby die of ‘dust pneumonia,’ and farmers who gathered tumbleweed as food for their cattle and, eventually, for their children.”
Egan, a Seattle-based, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and columnist, also wrote “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis,” “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America” and “Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West,” among others. A book signing will follow his presentation.
Parking for those attending the 7 p.m. event is available in the employee lots in front of and immediately to the east of Culkin Hall, the college’s main administration building off State Route 104.
SUNY Oswego, as it often does in conjunction with the Oswego Reading Initiative, has launched or planned other educational events in connection with discussion of “The Worst Hard Time,” including a Tyler Art Gallery exhibition, an Egan appearance at the English and creative writing department’s Living Writers Series and other opportunities for engaging with the book’s subject matter and reporting and writing techniques.