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Lakeland College will host an evening with Wisconsin native Chad Harbach, author of the best-selling novel “The Art of Fielding,” April 15 as part of the inaugural Lakeland College Community Book Read.

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Lakeland’s Bradley Theatre.

Harbach will read excerpts from the novel and answer questions about the work and his life as an author and magazine editor. Guests are encouraged to read “The Art of Fielding” prior to the event.

“The Art of Fielding,” Harbach’s debut novel, was named one of the New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 2011.

Born is Racine, Harbach is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Virginia, and he is a cofounder and editor of n+1, a magazine journal of literature, politics and culture based in New York. The magazine has enjoyed a high reputation among both readers and authors because of its mixture of essays, critical theory and different forms of fictional text.

Harbach wrote and honed “The Art of Fielding” for almost a decade, following in the footsteps of his role model, David Foster Wallace, not only stylistically and in his composition, but also by working with the same editor.

At the beginning of 2010, the rights were bought at auction for $650,000, an unusually high sum for a debut. The book immediately received an enthusiastic reception in the arts sections of the American press. New York Times iconic critic Michiko Kakutani said of Harbach, he “has the rare abilities to write with earnest, deeply felt emotion without ever veering into sentimentality, and to create quirky, vulnerable and fully imagined characters who instantly take up residence in our own hearts and minds.”

The subtle mixture of baseball and college novel, which reaches far beyond the boundaries of campus and baseball diamond, was also well-received by other writers like John Irving, Bret Easton Ellis and Jonathan Franzen.

In addition, Harbach’s n+1 colleague Keith Gessen published an eBook documenting the story of how the novel came about. The rights for a planned mini-series on American TV channel HBO have been sold.

Talking about the connection between baseball and literature, Harbach said: “Yes, there’s a narrative arc to a game that’s really satisfying. … Baseball is lonely — it’s a team sport, of course, but it puts each player on the team in difficult, isolated situations. It’s also a slow, contemplative game, with a lot of gaps and spaces for reflection, which suits most writers.”

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