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!

Oscar-Scranton-Schemel Connection: Jay Parini’s The Last Station


Now that the Olympics are over, it’s time to start preparing for the next big event – the Academy Awards are this Sunday!  And this year, there’s a Scranton connection.

West Scranton native Jay Parini is the author of The Last Station, a novel about the last year of Tolstoy’s life – and the film adaptation of the novel has received two Oscar nominations.  Helen Mirren (who plays Sofya Tolstoy) and Christopher Plummer (Leo Tolstoy) are up for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress, respectively.   The Last Station was also nominated for five awards (including Best Feature) at Friday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards.  For more details about the film and Parini’s work, see this article from the February 5 Scranton Times-Tribune.

This Spring, Mr. Parini will be making a special appearance on campus to discuss his book and the film at one of our Schemel Forum “Insights” luncheons.  The luncheon will be held Friday, April 9 from 12pm-1:30pm in Room 509 Brennan Hall.   Registration fees are $20 per person or $30 per couple for the luncheon – and Schemel Forum members get in free. To register, please contact Kym Fetsko at fetskok2 (at) scranton (dot) edu.