NEWS: New fiction faculty

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The Fresno MFA program will welcome two new fiction faculty to the English Department in fall 2007, acclaimed writers David Anthony Durham (left) and Alex Espinoza.

Durham received his MFA from the University of Maryland College Park in 1996. He is the author of three novels: Gabriel’s Story, Walk Through Darkness, and Pride of Carthage, all published by Doubleday. Acacia, his fourth novel, is scheduled to be published by Doubleday this summer.

Espinoza received his MFA from UC Irvine in 2004. He is the author of the novel Still Water Saints (Random House, January 2007), which has been named a “Discover Great New Writers” selection at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, and Jesus Stole My Bike (Chicano Chapbook Series).

In brief e-mail interviews, MFA student Jefferson Beavers talked with both Durham and Espinoza on the eve of their arrivals in Fresno.

What writing project(s) are you working on now?

Durham: At this very moment I’m writing another review for The Washington Post. But that’s a small project. The big one is that I’m feeling my way into my next novel. It’s a continuation of the story I began in Acacia, and it’s likely to be another hefty book. Seems I like ’em dangerously heavy. Also, I’m preparing for the publication of Acacia in mid-June. It’s a very different experience than I’ve had before. I’m doing a lot pre-publication stuff: interviews, website design, giveaways, etc. It’s a learning experience!

Espinoza: I’m working on my second novel, which takes place in Hollywood during the twenties and thirties and involves a Latino actor who becomes one of the biggest film stars of the time.

What are you both looking forward to most about life in Fresno?

Durham: Community. I don’t mind saying that a real big part of the draw to Fresno State was the ease and camaraderie I felt with the faculty and students. During the interview I already felt at home, among friends, supported and encouraged. That’s exactly the type of program I want to be involved with. It’s the type of experience I want to offer students. Such a program is very rare. I really look forward to being a part of it, and to adding what I can to keep the program growing.

Espinoza: It’s impossible to answer this briefly. There are truly so many things that have me excited about calling Fresno home. For one, everyone in the English Department at Fresno State has been amazingly generous, and I am looking forward to being part of such a committed and reputable faculty. Secondly, as a Chicano writer, it will be a great thrill to be living in a region that has cultivated such gifted poets as Gary Soto, Luis Omar Salinas, and Dixie Salazar, writers who have come to define and shape not just Chicano Literature, but American Literature as well. And finally, I hear Fresno has great fresh produce!

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