John Edgar Wideman visited KWH in April of 2000. He'd been away from Penn quite a while and relations between John and Penn had been — for various reasons — a bit frosty, despite continued admiration for John from long-time Penn people such as Peter Conn. My students and I were ga-ga over John's then-new book, Two Cities, which I've re-read twice since '00 and still think is one of the best postwar U.S. novels. I highly recommend it. So John's return to Penn was a homecoming of sorts, a chance for many of us to say directly to him how much we value him and missed having him a part of the Penn scene. He was touched. The Penn baseball cap my students gave him he wore around all the next day. At one of the receptions we held at 3805 Locust for him, nearly all the basketball players and the coach, Fran Dunphy, showed up and gathered round him to hear stories of the Penn team of the early to mid-60s.
Last night we released a new Writers House podcast which features a 20-minute excerpt from our conversation with John from that 2000 visit. Here is the link directly to the podcast mp3.
And here's the link to the whole visit.