Legions of lit-lovers and the ranks of comic book fandom alike will want to pencil the evening of Feb. 24, 2014, into their calendars now, with news that legendary English author Neil Gaiman is coming to town.
The celebrated writer – who counts the Newbery and Carnegie medals and the Hugo, Will Eisner and Bram Stoker awards among his accomplishments – is set to give a reading at MacEwan Hall as the 2014 Distinguished Visiting Writer for the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program (CDWP).
Gaiman first found international fame in the late 1980s when he conceived the groundbreaking comic book, The Sandman. The adult-themed horror fantasy series is one of the principle works credited with helping bring the long maligned comic book genre a level of literary respect previously unimagined.
A new mini-series called The Sandman: Overture, a prequel to the original series, will be released just in time for Halloween on Oct. 30.
Gaiman’s achievements are by no means limited to the comic book genre. Among his best selling novels are Neverwhere, Stardust, Anansi Boys and American Gods, the latter of which is being adapted into an HBO TV series.
He’s also a prolific writer of books for young readers. These include M Is For Magic, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, Blueberry Girl, Coraline and The Graveyard Book.
The Graveyard Book – inspired in part, says Gaiman, by The Jungle Book, “with that same equation of boy, orphaned, growing up somewhere else, but (set in a) graveyard,” – has won the UK’s Booktrust Prize for Teenage Fiction and the Newbery Medal, the highest honour given in the US for children’s literature. It also garnered the UK CILIP Carnegie Medal, making Gaiman the first author ever to win the Newbery and Carnegie medals with the same book. A film adaptation of The Graveyard Book is in production.
Other Gaiman works adapted for film and television have included Coraline, Stardust and Neverwhere. Gaiman himself has written and directed for the screen and a 2011 episode of Dr. Who, “The Doctor’s Wife,” garnered rave reviews.
“The CDWP is absolutely thrilled to be able to bring Neil Gaiman to campus,” says Bart Beaty, head of the English department and Acting Chair of the CDWP. “In the world of contemporary speculative fiction, he is at the absolute pinnacle of form. More than any other fantasy writer, he is redefining the boundaries of the genre.”
As a Distinguished Visiting Writer for the CDWP, Gaiman joins a long line of literary luminaries who have taken part in the annual event before him, including Margaret Atwood, Art Spiegelman, Oliver Sacks, Deepa Mehta and Michael Ondaatje.
Admittance to this event is free, but tickets are required and seating is limited. Free tickets will become available at noon on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. Visit the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program website for details and instructions.