Esther Freier Lecture
Spring 2023 Freier Lecture
An Evening with N. K. Jemisin
Coffman Union Theater
Join the Department of English at 7:30 pm on April 18, 2023, as the Esther Freier Lecture Series presents the author of the Broken Earth trilogy, which won three consecutive Hugo Awards for Best Novel in speculative fiction. N. K. Jemisin's most recent novel is the New York Times bestselling The World We Make (2022), the conclusion to the Great Cities duology beginning with The City We Became.
This in-person event is free and open to the public with registration.
ASL interpretation provided. For further questions about accessibility services and the venue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-626-1528.
N. K. Jemisin was raised in Mobile, Alabama and New York City. Uprooted in two places, her childhood anchor was fiction; she spent hours at the local library, and “self published” her own handwritten books with cardboard covers and yarn binding. Still, she considered writing to be just a hobby until her early thirties. After attending the Viable Paradise writing workshop, she began seeking publication in earnest. Although she acquired an agent in 2005, her first novel (The Killing Moon, eventually published in 2012) did not initially sell, as speculative fiction at the time was significantly less welcoming to inclusive fantasy. Instead she rewrote from scratch an old “trunked” novel—which sold at six-figure auction to become The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010) and its sequels. In 2016, her novel The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, making Jemisin the first Black person to win in this category. In 2017 she won again for The Obelisk Gate, and then a third time in 2018 for The Stone Sky, making her the first author in genre history to win the Best Novel Hugo three consecutive times. In all, her short fiction and novels have won Hugos, a Nebula, and two Locus Awards, and have been translated into more than 20 languages. She is a 2020 recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.
Jemisin’s most frequent themes include resistance to oppression, the inseverability of the liminal, and the coolness of Stuff Blowing Up. She has been an advocate for the long tradition of science fiction and fantasy as political resistance, and previously championed genre as a New York Times Book reviewer. She lives in Brooklyn.
Photo credit: Laura Hanifin
Masks encouraged. Staff and visitors attending in-person events are asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the Stay Safe MN Health Screening Checklist. Staff and visitors are reminded to wash hands often, get tested, and stay home when ill or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
About Esther Freier
The Esther Freier literature series hosts two free lectures each year featuring various prize-winning authors, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to David Mitchell, Maggie Nelson to Joy Harjo.
The literary legacy that Esther Freier envisioned began in 2001, when celebrated novelist and essayist Jamaica Kincaid inaugurated the Esther Freier Endowed Lecture in Literature series. A clinical laboratory chemist and professor, Freier had a deep and profound love for literature and the humanities. She wanted to leave a legacy that would benefit the public and inspire emerging authors. In her will, Freier created an endowment that would bring prize-winning national and international authors to campus for free, public lectures and informal visits with students.
Esther Freier was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, in 1925. She moved to Minneapolis while still a child and spent her entire academic (BS ‘46, MS ‘56) and professional career of 45 years at the University of Minnesota. She co-authored the first paper dealing with quality control in clinical chemistry, winning several awards. When she retired in 1991, she held the only endowed professorship in medical technology in the nation. That year, Freier served as the first woman president of the Academy of Clinical and Laboratory Physicians and Scientists and was re-elected the following year.
Esther Freier was a teacher, friend, and mentor to many. The Department of English is deeply grateful for her generosity to us, the University, and the community.
Previous Freier Lecturers
- October 19, 2022: Joy Harjo & Layli Long Soldier
- April 13, 2022: Jennifer Egan
- March 24, 2021: Helen Oyeyemi
- October 7, 2020: Alison Bechdel
- October 23, 2019: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- October 4, 2018: Frank Bidart & Maggie Nelson
- April 4, 2018: Young People's Lit Panel with M. T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, David Barclay Moore, and Nicola Yoon
- October 25, 2017: Edwidge Danticat
- April 13, 2017: Andrew Solomon
- October, 2016: Claudia Rankine & Marilynne Robinson
- April, 2016: Abraham Verghese
- October, 2015: Jeanette Winterson
- February, 2015: Lynn Nottage
- October, 2014: James McBride
- April, 2014: David Mitchell
- October, 2013: Katherine Boo
- April, 2013: Colum McCann
- October, 2012: Zadie Smith
- April, 2012: Denis Johnson
- October, 2011: Philip Gourevitch
- April, 2011: Natasha Trethewey
- October, 2010: James Salter
- April, 2010: Richard Powers
- September, 2009: Maxine Hong Kingston
- March, 2009: Louise Glück
- October, 2008: Junot Díaz
- March, 2006: Suzan-Lori Parks
- November, 2007: Paul Muldoon
- April, 2007: E. L. Doctorow
- November, 2006: Bharati Mukherjee
- April, 2006: T. C. Boyle
- October, 2005: Philip Levine
- April, 2005: Anna Deavere Smith
- November, 2004: Rita Dove
- April, 2004: A. S. Byatt
- October, 2003: Arnold Rampersad
- February, 2003: Michael Chabon
- November, 2002: Edmund White
- March, 2002: Barry Lopez
- March, 2001: W. S. Merwin
- February, 2001: Jamaica Kincaid