Author's Debut Novel Asks: Can Teens Unlearn Their Parents' Racism?

More than 100 years after Mark Twain published his great American novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, racism is still a central problem in America. Ironically, Twain's book, which is widely interpreted as an attack on the institution of slavery and on racism per se, has become the sixth most banned book in the country.

Now first-time novelist Matthew Olshan has brought Twain's crusade front and center with his debut literary effort, Finn: a novel, a modern retelling of Huckleberry Finn, with girls as protagonists rather than boys. A fascinating speaker, educated at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Oxford Universities, Olshan provokes a lively, up-to-the minute debate about racism in America—and its effect on our young people.

Olshan will address the controversial questions raised by his novel, including:

What is a racist book, and when should a book be banned?

What are some of the parallels between Twain's America and the America of 2001?

What has replaced the Mississippi River as the dividing line between "civilization" and "wilderness" in the minds of Americans?

If not slavery, then what is today's greatest social evil? What will future generations single out for criticism in our society?

What is it like to engage a literary mind like Mark Twain's?

AVAILABILITY: Maryland and Washington, DC, nationwide by arrangement, and via telephone, available as a last minute guest. For more information and a press kit, contact: Ms. Alex Bulkley, 410-358-0658 (410-764-1967 (fax)).