Leslie Pietrzyk, author of Pears on a Willow Tree (Avon) and Year and a Day (William Morrow), a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, will give a public reading of her works Tuesday, January 13 at 8 p.m. in the Montgomery Student Center on the campus of Converse College. Her reading is free and open to the public.
During January Term, Pietrzyk is serving as Converse’s Sara Lura Mathews Self Writer-in-Residence and is teaching Advanced Tutorial in Fiction. She also a faculty member of Converse’s recently unveiled low-residency master of fine arts program in creative writing, the first program of its kind in South Carolina.
Pietrzyk’s short fiction has appeared in many literary journals, including Iowa Review, Gettysburg Reviewand New England Review. She has stories in several new anthologies, New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond (W.W. Norton), The Dictionary of Failed Relationships (Three Rivers Press) and The Bottom of the Ninth (Southern Illinois University Press). In addition, her work has received a number of awards and fellowships, including Shenandoah’s Jean Charpiot Goodheart Prize, the Frank O’Connor Memorial Award, and fellowships to the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. Pietrzyk has taught at a number of colleges and universities as a visiting writer and writer-in-residence, and she currently teaches at Johns Hopkins University.
Pietrzyk is perhaps best known as author of Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. “Pears on a Willow Tree is about four generations of Polish-American women bound together by recipes, reminiscences, and tangled relationships,” Pietrzyk said from her Virginia home. “The century evolves, and so does each succeeding generation. As the older women keep a tight hold on the family traditions passed from mother to daughter, the younger women are dealing with more modern problems. The story revolves mainly around the youngest generation coming to terms with the importance of these strong women and the role they play in her life."
“A Year and a Day is perhaps a bit darker as it tells the story of a girl whose mother has committed suicide. She’s heard the old saying that it takes a year to get through the grieving period, and she’s just doing her best to make it beyond that point.”
Not all of Pietrzyk’s writing deal with such heavy topics. “I am an avid sports fan,” she said, “and love to write about baseball, hockey, and football. In fact, I think that reflects the joys that I feel as a writer—the opportunity to explore and express myself. As I look forward to my reading in Spartanburg, I hope someone in the audience will feel that same sense of excitement for exploration.”