Acclaimed Riverside novelist to speak at La Sierra

Susan Straight
Susan Straight

May 18, 2012

By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( Life-long Riverside resident and award-winning author Susan Straight will give a talk and read portions of her latest novel, “Take One Candle, Light a Room” at La Sierra University on May 23.

The reading, followed by a question-and-answer session, will take place at 7 p.m. in Matheson Hall. Admission is free and the reading is open to the public. Straight will discuss fiction in terms of character and talk about the concept “of people who stay, and people who leave, in terms of home and away,” she said. Matheson Hall is located in a former chapel across the Founders’ Green mall from the Administration building. A campus map is at

Straight, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, has written seven novels, a children’s book and numerous short stories, essays and op-ed pieces that have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Zoetrope, The Oxford American, Harpers, Salon, The Nation and other publications. Straight’s awards include the Lannan Foundation Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Edgar Award and an O. Henry Award. Her books “Highwire Moon” and “A Million Nightingales” were respective finalists for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2001 and 2006.

Straight’s interest in books and writing is a lifelong passion. She wrote her first story at age 16 while at Riverside City College and penned her first novel at age 22. In a op-ed published last month and titled “Literature and the Gift of Words,” Straight recalled how at age 5 she frequently walked three blocks to a “grocery store parking lot where the library bookmobile was parked every other week—browsing in that hot, narrow space with my fingers running down the spines of all those novels—I always wanted to keep one.”

Straight centers her novels on the fictional town of Rio Seco, Calif., an imaginary place similar to her hometown. “Take One Candle Light a Room,” published in 2010 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., tells the story of travel writer Fantine Antoine who is drawn back to her Rio Seco home and into the chaotic life of her godson, Victor, whose involvement in a shooting sends him on the run and heading toward a life of crime. Together with her father, Fantine strives to keep Victor from falling into a downward spiral. The journey that transpires sets the stage for the revelation of family secrets, the confrontation of choices and issues of race, all of which unfold amidst a struggle for identity.


PR Contact: Larry Becker

Executive Director of University Relations

La Sierra University

Riverside, California

951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  May 18, 2012