MARQUETTE, Mich.—Mary Doria Russell, author of the 2010 One Book, One Community selection The Sparrow, will give a public presentation at Northern Michigan University. The event is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center. Admission is free for NMU students with ID and $2 for the general public.

In her debut novel about first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, Russell put her doctorate in biological anthropology to effective use creating worlds, species and societies that are believable and shocking. Considered “a classic of speculative fiction,” The Sparrow’s plot centers on a Jesuit mission to another planet.

In 2019, a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet that will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being "human."

When Emilio Sandoz returns to Earth in 2059 as the lone survivor of the mission, he is horribly disfigured and guarding a shocking secret. What happened to him on Rakhat? What happened to the others with him and why? The story is about the destruction that can result when one culture steps into another, despite the best of intentions. It forces readers to take a hard look at society—its history and its values—and at what it means to have faith in something.

Russell followed The Sparrow with a sequel, Children of God. Together, the books have won eight regional, national and international awards. They have also been optioned for Hollywood movies starring Antonio Banderas and Brad Pitt and inspired a rock opera and a full-scale bel canto opera. Russell also wrote Dreamers of the Day. Her latest novel, Doc, will be published sometime in 2011-12.

The author will host a question-and-answer session with NMU students on the afternoon of her visit.

Prepared By
News Director
October 20, 2010