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Purchase College Presents Edwidge Danticat in Conversation with Alex Correia

Danticat named 2019-2020 Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature; Correia to direct Purchase production of her play-

Edwidge Danticat [photo credit Jonathan Demme]

Purchase College-SUNY will present Edwidge Danticat in Conversation with Alex Correia on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, at 4:30 p.m. The program, which is free and open to the public, will take place at Purchase College in the Recital Hall of the Music Building (735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY).

Edwidge Danticat [photo credit Jonathan Demme]

Danticat, one of the world’s most respected and beloved authors, was named the 2019-20 Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature and will be participating in several events at Purchase College throughout the school year. In an exciting collaboration, Alex Correia, lecturer in Theatre and Performance at Purchase, will be directing Danticat’s play, Bastille Day.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Edwidge Danticat is a leading global writer whose books include: Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection, and Krik? Krak!, a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also published a collection of short stories and reports on Haiti, migration, and other topics for The New Yorker. Her 2007 memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. Danticat’s many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship and the 2017 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.  

“Several students in my freshmen-only section of ‘Introduction to Gender and Sexuality’ declared Breath, Eyes, Memory ‘the best novel’ they had ever read,” said Elise Lemire, professor of literature at Purchase College. “In detailing a young woman’s valiant efforts to break the silence surrounding a terrible secret her family has kept for generations, Edwidge Danticat tells a universal story about the oppressive nature of gender norms, even as the details of the family’s secret are very specific to Haiti and its diasporas in the U.S.” 

The Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts will be presenting Edwidge Danticat’s play, Bastille Day, directed by Alex Correia. The play centers on a dinner party in Miami, where two powerful expatriate Haitian couples discuss the fate of their country after the earthquake. Performances will be held in the Humanities Building, Humanities Theatre at Purchase College on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 28 at 1:30 p.m., Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 5 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis in front of the theatre, starting one hour prior to show time (availability is limited to theatre capacity).

Aviva Taubenfeld, associate professor of literature and chair of the School of Humanities at Purchase College, commented, “Edwidge Danticat is a writer distinctly grounded, yet remarkably transcendent of genre and place.  We feel honored that she has provided our faculty and students with the opportunity to stage her unproduced play, Bastille Day, and look forward to an extraordinary year with her as the Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature.​​”

As a small public college, Purchase is proud to introduce students to the level of expertise provided by the Durst Distinguished Lectures. The roster of current and past Durst Lecturers have won an impressive array of the highest level of literary honors, including National Book Awards, MacArthur Foundation Grants, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships, and Man Booker Prizes for Fiction.

Upcoming Durst programs this season include Edwidge Danticat returning on November 14-15, writer and journalist Kelefa Sanneh on October 9 and short story writer David Means on October 21. For more information, please visit: or call 914.251.6550.

The Durst Distinguished Lecture Series and the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature are funded by the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature Endowment. The mission of the Durst programs is to infuse the experience and intellect of leading writers into the Purchase community, while providing diverse opportunities for these writers to interact with students and influence campus life.

About Purchase College-SUNY

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspirations for Purchase were to combine on one campus conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Today, Purchase College-SUNY is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit


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