University of Rochester

Local Authors Chosen for the University of Rochester's Andrew Eiseman Writers Award

November 18, 2008

Susan Williams and Bill Kauffman are the winners of the 2008 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award at the University of Rochester. Williams' novel Wind Rider was chosen in the young people's literature category and Kauffman's book Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals was selected for nonfiction.

Created in 2005 by the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, the Eiseman Writers Award celebrates Rochester-area writers who have been published during the previous calendar year. The annual award comes with a $1,000 prize.

"With Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists, Bill Kauffman has shown again that he is not only one of the best writers in western New York, but also one of the best writers in the country," said James Fleming, biographer and professor emeritus of political science at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Blending history, memoir, and polemic, Kauffman introduces readers to the reactionary radicals, front-porch anarchists, and traditionalist rebels who give American culture and politics vitality. He provides fresh portraits of such American originals as Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, regionalist painter Grant Wood, farmer-writer Wendell Berry and other Americans who can'tóor shouldn'tóbe confined to either a liberal or conservative label. Kauffman is a 1981 graduate of the University of Rochester.

Susan Williams' coming-of-age story Wind Rider follows Fern, a young girl living in the Steppes of Central Asia 6,000 years ago, as she rescues a wild foal and secretly learns to ride the horseóa radical break with her tribe's tradition of valuing horses solely as a source of food. Williams' novel couples the touching animal story with Fern's struggle against her mother's expectations and her society's traditional gender roles.

Drawing from extensive research in the fields of anthropology, archeology, and linguistic paleontology, Williams creates a "believable world for Fern," said Annette Weld, advisory council member for River Campus Libraries and University alumna and one of the Eiseman Award judges. "You can smell the smoke from the cooking fires; feel the sharp edges of the flints. It's a foreign yet familiar world that any young reader could cherish," explained Weld.

The Eiseman Award is named after Andrew Eiseman, who graduated from the University in 1979 with a multi-disciplinary degree in performing arts management and continued on to become a program manager for telecom and cable TV companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

The 2006 Eiseman Award was given to biographer James Fleming for Windows on Congress: A Congressional Biography of Barber B. Conable Jr. and poet William Heyen for Shoah Train: Poems. In 2007, Joanna Scott, the Roswell Smith Burrows Professor of English at the University, was selected for her novel Liberation.

For more on the Eiseman Award, including how to submit nominations for the 2009 award, contact Andrea Weinstein at or (585) 273-1341.