Jay Parini speaks on his “found novel”, The Last Station

Scranton native Jay Parini spoke at today’s Schemel Forum luncheon about his 1990 novel, The Last Station, which was recently transformed into an Oscar-nominated film by the same name.

The novel describes the last year of Leo Tolstoy‘s life and focuses on the battle between Tolstoy’s wife Sophia and his disciple Chertkov for Tolstoy’s soul.  Parini wrote the novel after reading several diaries written by people who lived in Tolstoy’s house during the tumultuous year.  In today’s talk, Parini described his work as a “found novel,” a narrative shaped from the layered viewpoints of those diaries.

Parini has authored 21 books and is currently working on a new novel on the life of Herman Melville.   When it’s done, we hope he’ll find his way back home to Scranton for another visit with the Schemel Forum!

P.S. The Last Station has been shown in cities all over the world – but not in Scranton.  Tolstoy fans will have to drive to Tunkhannock’s Deitrich Theater, where the film will be shown on three different days (4/14, 4/18, and 4/22) during this month’s Spring Film Festival.

Update: A video of Parini’s talk is now available on the University’s YouTube channel!

William Bernhardt to Receive Distinguished Author Award on Saturday, Nov 14th.


The talents and skills of the 2009 Recipient of the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award, William Bernhardt, reflect many aspects of the contemporary library.  William Bernhardt is an author, a teacher, a mentor, a researcher, a composer, and communicator.

As an author, Mr. Bernhardt had sold more than 10 million books in various countries.  Library Journal has called him the “master of the courtroom drama.”  The Vancouver Sun dubbed him “the American equivalent of P.G. Wodehouse and John Mortimer.” He introduced the Ben Kincaid series in 1991 with Primary Justice and published the 17th in the series, Capitol Offense, in 2009. The Susan Pulaski series has two titles, Dark Eye and Strip Search.  Among his other novels is the collection Legal Briefs which also contains stories by previous Distinguished Authors Philip Margolin and Lisa Scottoline.   Royalties from the sale of this book benefited the Children’s Defense Fund.  Contributors to the anthology Natural Suspect donated author royalties to the Nature Conservancy. His works for children include a biography of civil rights leader Ada Lois Sipuel, who broke the color barrier for higher education in Oklahoma and throughout the south.

In his recent book, Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness, Bernhardt solved the mystery of America’s first serial killer, the so-called Mad Butcher of Cleveland, whose identity has eluded investigators for decades. In the most recent book in the Ben Kincaid series, Capitol Conspiracy, Bernhardt keeps the series fresh and contemporary with a story that takes attorney Ben Kincaid to Washington, D.C., for a high-profile case involving controversial anti-terrorist legislation, political skullduggery, and murder.  In 1999, he founded HAWK Publishing Group.  Each summer HAWK sponsors Writing Workshops to “nurture and mentor aspiring writers.”  These efforts facilitate publication by new authors. In addition to mentoring new writers, HAWK has published books by acclaimed authors such as Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist N. Scott Momaday, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Janis Ian, and PBS newsman Jim Lehrer.  His new book, Capitol Offense” is due out on Sept. 29th.

Among the awards Bernhardt has received are the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction in 1995 for Perfect Justice and in 1999 for Dark Justice; the Southern Writers Guild’s Gold Medal Award in 1998; a Career Achievement Award at the 2000 Booklovers Convention in Houston; and in 2000 the  H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award, “in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large.”  (Contemporary Authors)  In addition to his law degree, Bernhardt also holds a Masters Degree in English.  His specialty field is Victorian literature.

I hope you will join us for this celebration of the works of William Bernhardt.  For ticket information, please click on the Distinguished Author web site or contact Kym Fetsko at 570-941-7816.



Charles Kratz