UHV dean releases book on innovative, influential late author

Dec. 11, 2010 at 6:11 a.m.

Jeffrey Di Leo

Jeffrey Di Leo

The dean of the University of Houston-Victoria School of Arts & Sciences recently published a book of essays about novelist Raymond Federman, his life as a Holocaust survivor and his influence as an experimental writer.

Jeffrey Di Leo's seventh book, "Federman's Fictions: Innovation, Theory, and the Holocaust," was a labor of love to document the writer who passed away in 2009 at age 81. Di Leo authored the introduction and edited contributions from 19 other writers, including Federman himself.

"Its publication is bittersweet without Ray around to share it with," Di Leo said. "He was a distinguished writer, an American Book Review speaker and a dear friend."

Di Leo said the book was in the planning stages during Federman's April 2007 visit to speak at the American Book Review Reading Series. Di Leo is publisher and editor of the American Book Review literary journal housed at UHV.

"I first became interested in Federman's work when I was in graduate school, and he was one of the postmodern writers we studied," Di Leo said. "The crossover appeal to his work was very appealing to me. You just don't find many writers with that rich of a range."

The UHV professor of English and philosophy said he met Federman in person in 2002 when the French-born author came to Chicago to speak to a class Di Leo led.

"I spent a couple of days with him, and it was at that time I noticed there wasn't a book that dealt with the full body of his work and could speak to its critical range," Di Leo said.

Federman's adolescence began with a shock in 1942, when, at age 14, he was hidden in a small closet as Germans entered his family's home and took his parents and sisters. His family died at Auschwitz within a year.

The future writer traveled the world, came to America to study literature, all the while developing his unique, experimental style.

"I hope this collection of essays will help increase understanding and appreciation of his work," Di Leo said.

The book, released this week, was published by the State University of New York Press.



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