Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Naomi J. Williams

naomi williams author

CSU, Chico’s Writer’s Voice reading series is pleased to welcome fiction writer Naomi J. Williams on Thursday, April 6th.

We are proud to host a reading of Williams’ debut novel, Landfalls. A captivating integration of fiction and history, Landfalls tells the story of the star-crossed expeditions of the French ships Boussole and Astrolabe in 1785. Told through the perspectives of sailors, native peoples, family members, and many others, the ships’ journeys give an imagined voice to a little known history.

A native of Japan, Naomi Williams spoke no English until she was six years old. Her writing has been featured in Zoetrope: All-StoryA Public Space, One Story, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review and even earned her a Pushcart Prize. Williams holds a MA in creative writing from UC Davis, where she now teaches. As well, she serves as co-director of the literary series Stories on Stage Davis. Landfalls has been long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award.

When asked what inspired Landfalls, Williams tells interviewers that the idea came from an old map of the Lapérouse expedition given to her by her husband. This stirred her idea for a multi-narrative collection of stories that would build the expedition from “voices we don’t usually hear.” Williams writes extensively of the map and how it inspired her on her blog.

Williams’ debut work has been praised for her research and historical accuracy. She challenged herself to veer from the historical narrative as little a possible and found creative inspiration in the historical accounts. It is no doubt she is a lover of history and it shows through her profound retelling of the Lapérouse expedition.

Reading Landfalls will reopen your eyes to history and leave you wondering how your favorite historical figures, and the people around them, felt at crucial points in the past, or pondering what inspired them to do what they did. Williams’ own exploratory instinct links her and her historical characters in Landfalls. Her wonder-filled story may awaken your own investigative impulse and guide your future reading experience. Williams is currently hard at work on several writing projects, including a novel based on the early 20th-century Japanese poet Yosano Akiko.

Please join us for an exciting evening with Naomi J. Williams, Thursday at 7:30 pm in the Zingg Recital Hall (ARTS 150). Thanks to contributions made by the Department of English and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Writer’s Voice readings are free and open to the public.

By Kennedi Turner

Read an Excerpt and Interview

Read a New York Times Book Review