February 7, 2000
Volume 52, No. 20
Frederick Busch to read from latest novel Feb. 9
By Eric Rangus
Noted author Frederick Busch will visit Emory on Feb. 9 for a colloquium and a reading from his latest novel, The Night Inspector.
The colloquium will take place between 23 p.m., and the reading is scheduled for 8:1510 p.m. Both events will be held in Woodruff Library and are free and open to the public.
The timing of Busch's appearance couldn't be better. The Night Inspector was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award on Jan. 24. Busch has previously won the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award.
"I am as accustomed to introducing my work to students as I am to bookstores," said Busch.
Busch, 58, is the Fairchild Professor of Literature at Colgate University, with more than 30 years of university teaching experience. He is the author of more than 20 novels, short story collections and nonfiction works; The Night Inspector was released last May.
The New York Times Book Review described the novel, which is set in New York City during the Gilded Age, as "a marvelously dark-hued story by a master craftsman." It chronicles the story of William Bartholomew, a disfigured Civil War veteran attempting to carve a suitable life for himself in postwar New York.
This is not Busch's first foray into historical fiction. His 1978 novel The Mutual Friend explored the life of English writer Charles Dickens. Busch said that his second attempt was harder than the first because he knew more. "It's not that I knew more about the subject. I just knew how tough it was, and I was frightened about that."
Busch's latest nonfiction work is A Dangerous Profession: A Book About the Writing Life, a collection of biographical and autobiographical essays on life as a writer. Busch delves into the lives and careers of Hemingway, Kafka, Dickens and Herman Melville (who, interestingly, pops up as an integral character in The Night Inspector).One critic noted, "the careers Busch sketches provide cautionary tales for the eager-beaver young creative writing student." It was the difficulties of Melville's later life, in fact, that gave Busch the inspiration to produce The Night Inspector.
"Many of his friends had assumed he was dead," Busch said. "He had failed commercially and was working as a deputy inspector of customs." The writer's descent coincided with the suicide of his 18-year-old son.
Busch, who had an intimate familiarity with Melville from having taught the author's works for more than 20 years, put in an extra year of research, immersing himself in the writer's life as well as the conditions of New York in the late 1860s.
Busch has received strong critical acclaim throughout his career. The Dictionary of Literary Biography states that he is "an artist who counts, a writer who matters to the cultural health of our nation."
For more information, please contact the creative writing program at