Karen Sagstetter


Thursday, April 7 at 6:30 pm

Karen Sagstetter and Ethelbert Miller

Mulebone (formerly Eatonville)

Sponsored by the Fulbright Association

Karen Sagstetter has given readings at:

Politics and Prose

Washington, DC

Busboys and Poets

Washington, DC

Writer's Center

Bethesda, Md.

and other venues


Karen Sagstetter is a writer, editor, and teacher who grew up on the Gulf Coast. She is author of The Thing with Willie, a collection of linked stories exploring the interplay of two Galveston families, one white and one African American. She has published poetry and fiction in numerous literary journals, two chapbooks of poetry, and two nonfiction books, as well as travel pieces for the Washington Post. Her work has appeared in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best and has been awarded prizes by Glimmer Train Press, among others. She studied in Japan as a Fulbright journalist and was a founding editor of Asian Art & Culture, a journal and book series, at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries, and served as senior editor at the National Gallery of Art. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

About The Thing with Willie: Stories of Two Families

Karen Sagstetter’s wide and wise knowledge of the world gives vivid life to the wondrous interlocking stories that make up The Thing with Willie. From the emotional complexities of the title story—first-place winner of the prestigious Glimmer Train short-story competition—to “Sapphire Street”’s beautifully nuanced portrait of a shoestore owner’s life of quiet desperation, to the gripping, cinematic “Letters Home” and its depiction of Americans in Vietnam during the war, Sagstetter gives us a stunning series of narratives that traverse time and space.

Terence Winch
writer and musician, author of Boy Drinkers, Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor, and other books

Here is an exceptional collection of intensely humane and entertaining stories. Writing with tenderness and humor, Karen Sagstetter shows how two families with little in common share many of the same struggles. Hurricanes, war, and hardship unite them in the most unexpected ways, and in story after story, resilient family members take poignant actions that allow deep wounds to mend.

Mary Kay Zuravleff
author of Man Alive!, The Bowl Is Already Broken, and The Frequency of Souls

Selected Works & Reviews

Two families, one African American and one white, are vibrant touchstones for this suite of connected stories that launch from Galveston, Texas, and sweep through a century of hurricanes, economic collapse, war, the compelling influence of Asia, all the way to the Fourth of July millennium celebration on the beach.