MSU Writer-in-Residence to promote appreciation for reading

Contact: Tyler Powell

Writer-in-Residence Jess Walter will speak at MSU on Feb. 22. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – New York Times best-selling fiction author and National Book Award finalist Jess Walter will read from his works during a public program at Mississippi State on Feb. 22.  

Walter’s 7:30 p.m. reading is sponsored by the university's Institute for the Humanities. Held in Taylor Auditorium in McCool Hall, the event is free and open to the public.

Serving as MSU’s Writer-in-Residence, Walter will interact with members of the university and surrounding community during his four-day visit, participating in a variety of activities to increase appreciation of literature, reading and writing. 

In addition to the Feb. 22 event, Walter will meet with individual students during his office hours and will visit an advanced fiction workshop. Walter also will offer opportunities for students to meet informally with him for lunch or coffee breaks.

Writer-in-Residence poster

Walter’s skills as an author and observer of the human condition will “enrich our students’ experience and knowledge at Mississippi State,” said director of the Institute for the Humanities Julia Osman.

 “Jess Walter is a celebrated author,” Osman said. “His work is entertaining and engrossing, and it offers real insight on the joyous messiness of life and our relationships.”

Walter has written six novels, including Citizen Vince (HarperCollins, 2005); The Zero (HarperCollins, 2006), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize and winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award; The Financial Lives of the Poets (HarperCollins, 2009); and Beautiful Ruins (HarperCollins, 2012). Beautiful Ruins was named Esquire magazine’s book of the year and National Public Radio-Fresh Air’s best novel of 2012. 

A three-time finalist for the Washington State Book Award in fiction, Walter also is the author of the acclaimed short story collection We Live in Water (HarperCollins, 2013), long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, as well as the non-fiction book Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family (HarperCollins, 2002), a finalist for the PEN USA literary nonfiction award.

Writer-in-Residence visits are “tremendously beneficial for students, who get to spend some sustained time learning from a prestigious writer at the top of his or her field,” said Catherine Pierce, MSU associate professor of English and co-director of the university's creative writing program. Pierce said working with the Writer-in-Residence offers students a “valuable new perspective on their own work in the process.” 

An Eastern Washington University graduate, Walter lives with his wife and children in his hometown of Spokane, Washington. For more, visit

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences or the Institute for the Humanities may be found, respectively, at or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at