New York novelist Tommy Zurhellen comes to Bismarck State College Thursday, Sept. 22, to read from his first novel, "Nazareth, North Dakota."
The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Union Prairie Room, lower level, followed by a book signing.
"Nazareth, North Dakota" is an imaginative retelling of the Messiah story with 1980s western North Dakota set in a thin overlay to the action. A quirky, modern adventure, the book spans three decades and is peopled with corrupt sheriffs, hardworking townspeople, revival preachers, mysterious old men, meddlesome bikers, even an escaped circus elephant.
One reviewer wrote: "It takes a lot of skill to rewrite a famous story well, retaining enough elements to keep the story familiar, while burying recognizable threads to such a degree that the end product feels fresh and creative. Tommy Zurhellen has that skill."
Zurhellen also writes short stories. He is associate professor of English at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he teaches creative writing. He serves as director of the Marist Summer Writing Institute and the Writer-in-Residence program. Zurhellen grew up in New York City and earned his MFA in fiction writing from the University of Alabama. His works have appeared in literary magazines such as Quarterly West, Carolina Quarterly, Passages North, South Dakota Review, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere.
Zurhellen's appearance is part of the BSC Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the English program of the Arts and Communication Department and funded in part by a grant from the BSC Foundation.