Second annual Salt Cay Writers Retreat pays it forward at ‘A Novel Evening’

From left: Robert Goolrick, David Ebershoff and Téa Obreht sign copies of their works at the A Novel Evening event. KAREN DIONNE

Last month, wordsmiths from as near as New Providence and as far as Australia traveled to Salt Cay – better known as Blue Lagoon Island – for the second annual Salt Cay Writers Retreat, held October 20 – 25. With a faculty of seven esteemed authors and literary agents, it’s no wonder 30 students ventured to the lagoon to receive feedback from and rub elbows with literary royalty.

The 2014 lineup included authors David Ebershoff, who is known for his bestselling murder mystery, “The 19th Wife”; Robert Goolrick, who is known for his memoir “The End of the World as We Know It” among other works, and Téa Obreht, National Book Award finalist and winner of the prestigious Orange Award for her debut novel, “The Tiger’s Wife”. Accompanying them were literary agents Erin Harris, Jeff Kleinman and Erin Niumata, of Folio Literary Management, and Jill Marr, of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Niumata, a Bahamian, expressed her excitement about the opportunity to return home for the retreat.

“I was thrilled because it is The Bahamas, and I’m a Bahamian, and I get to come home and talk to Bahamians about the craft of writing and spread what knowledge I have to the Bahamian people, which makes me happy,” she said.

Taking the sentiment to heart, the second annual Salt Cay Writers Retreat decided to pay it forward through a partnership with the Inner Wheel Club of East Nassau and Old Fort Bay. On Thursday, October 23 at the Old Fort Bay Clubhouse, Ebershoff, Goolrick and Obreht presented selections from their most recent works to a crowd of 115 literary enthusiasts. Aptly titled “A Novel Evening”, the event benefited local adult literacy program Project Read through ticket sales.

Project Read is a non-profit program founded by the Rotary Club of East Nassau in 1991. The organization offers free, one-on-one literacy tutoring to adults and teenagers in a confidential environment, at Project Read’s headquarters on Village Road.

“I’m feeling great,” said Obreht on the evening. “The venue is just one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen, and reading with David and Robert is going to be wonderful, and it’s also for a great cause. Promoting literacy is fantastic, always.”

Commending the setting and the inviting atmosphere, Ebershoff also noted that the zealous audience was one of the evening’s highlights.

“The setting was so special and the audience was really engaged, and I felt really fortunate to be a part of it and also to have an opportunity to raise money for Project Read,” he said.

The event was doubly special for Goolrick, who gave the first ever public reading of his not-yet-released novel, “The Fall of Princes”. With copies set to hit bookstores in 2015, Goolrick tantalized attendees with an excerpt from his newest work.

“I had quite a few people ask when the new novel is coming out, and I think the selection excited many people,” he said. “A lot of people seemed to like it, which pleased me because it was the first time I had ever read from that book in public, so it was sort of a world premiere.”

To find out more about the authors, their works or the Salt Cay Writers Retreat, visit www.saltcaywritersretreat.com.

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