Shirley Jackson Day returns to village of North Bennington

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MANCHESTER — Local author Shirley Jackson may have passed away decades ago, but her memory lives on in the hearts of area readers and writers alike.

This memory is honored by the annual Shirley Jackson Day, taking place this year on Monday, June 26 at the Left Bank in North Bennington. The celebration, organized in partnership with Blue Rider Events, The Bennington Bookshop, and the John G. McCullough Free Library, honors the prolific author who lived in North Bennington until her death in 1965.

The 2017 celebration follows last year's hundredth anniversary of the author's birth, and the publication of a collection of her unpublished works "Let Me Tell You," which was edited by two of her children. Additionally, a major new biography by literary scholar Ruth Franklin was published last September, and went on to win the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography.

Jackson is known for her novels "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" and "The Haunting of Hill House," as well as two popular memoirs, four books for children, and hundreds of short stories. The author favored themes of mystery, psychology, and suspense in her extensive collection of work.

Jackson is best known for her short story "The Lottery," for which a graphic novel and ballet adaptation were produced in the last year. The local Shirley Jackson Day celebration falls on the anniversary of the story's publication in the June 26, 1948 edition of The New Yorker, and one day before the "Lottery Day" in the story -- June 27.

This year's celebration will feature readings of Jackson's work from four presenters connected with the national Shirley Jackson Awards, voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics. The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in multiple categories including novel, novella, novelette, short story, single-author collection, and edited anthology. The next Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented on July 16 at the Readercon 28 Conference on Imaginative Literature in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Maryland author Michael Thomas Ford, whose most recent novel "Lily" was a nominee for the 2016 Shirley Jackson Awards and a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, will be among the featured readers. His work for adults has been recognized with five LAMBDA Literary Awards and the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. His work for young readers includes the novels "Suicide Notes" and "Z," and his middle-grade novel "The Dollhouse that Time Forgot" was also a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. His newest novel, "Crookback," is forthcoming.

Karen Heuler, whose stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies will also be a reader at the Shirley Jackson Day celebrations.

Hueler is the recipient of an O. Henry award, a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, and a nominee for the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction in both 2008 and 2016.

She has published four novels and three collections, with her newest novella "In Search of Lost Time," to be published this summer.

A third featured reader, Williams College professor Paul Park, is the author of multiple novels in a variety of genres including science fiction, fantasy, and historical metafiction.

His story "The Statue in the Garden," a part of his second story collection, was nominated for the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award for short fiction.

Alongside Park, local author Chandler Klang Smith will also be joining in on this years Shirley Jackson Day. Smith is a graduate of both Bennington College and the creative writing MFA program at Columbia, and a juror for the 2016 Shirley Jackson Awards.

Her second novel, "The Sky is Yours," is expected in early 2018.

The 2017 Shirley Jackson Day celebration will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 26 at the Left Bank in North Bennington. The McCullough Library in North Bennington will be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., showing a selection from its collection of Shirley Jackson artifacts.

Though the event is free, donations are welcome.

For further information, contact the Left Bank at leftbanknorthb@gmail.com or by phone at 802-681-7161.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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