He taught in the DU English department for more than 30 years and wrote four novels, the most famous of which is 1965’s “Stoner.” But author John Williams — a DU alumnus and former director of the University’s creative writing program — enjoyed only minimal critical and commercial fame before he died in 1994. Twelve years later, “Stoner” became a bestseller in Europe and eventually gained new acclaim in the U.S., where it has been billed as “the most perfect novel ever written.” Today, in 2020, Williams has a worldwide following and the critical acclaim that eluded him in life.
On March 28, the DU Enrichment Program will sponsor a one-day conference devoted to Williams and his work. Among the scheduled speakers are William Zaranka, one of Williams’ former colleagues; Joe Nigg (PhD ’75), a former student of Williams’ who is now a successful author; Anne Marie Candido, an archivist from the University of Arkansas who worked with Williams on organizing his files; and Alan Prendergast, an investigative reporter who wrote the definitive long-form feature about Williams during the groundswell of renewed interest in him as a great novelist.
The day will conclude with a dinner and a reading from Williams’ final, unfinished novel, “The Sleep of Reason.”