Best-selling author to speak at Chimacum High School

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM — Novelist David Guterson, author of eight books including Snow Falling on Cedars and 2011’s Ed King, will come to Chimacum High School to give a free public lecture Wednesday.

The writer, who won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Snow Falling, is the 2012 Huntingford Humanities lecturer presented by the Jefferson County Library.

The annual lecture, established in 2001, is named after Sally L. Huntingford, a teacher and mother who believed in the need for libraries in rural places such as Chimacum.

The program will start at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Chimacum High School auditorium at 91 West Valley Road, and there is no admission charge.

More information is available by phoning the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock at 360-385-6544 or visiting

Guterson, a former Bainbridge Island High School teacher, is best known for Snow Falling on Cedars, which has sold some 4 million copies.

Less famous is his 2008 book The Other, his most autobiographical novel.

It’s about two men: one who lives a conventional life in Seattle and his longtime friend who lights out for the North Olympic Peninsula rain forest and becomes “the hermit of the Hoh.”

Guterson declined a request for an interview for this article. But when The Other came out four years ago, he told the Peninsula Daily News that writing a novel, for him, is a way to examine himself and the world around him.

“I hope to provide [readers] with a context for exploring, and for ruminating on things they might not have ruminated on . . . and going places they might not otherwise go,” he said.

Guterson has other connections to the Peninsula: The 1999 movie version of Snow Falling on Cedars was partially filmed in Port Townsend, and the writer himself loves to hike in the High Olympics.

His other novels are set in the deep woods and wide, open spaces of the Northwest. They include East of the Mountains (1999) and Our Lady of the Forest (2003).

“Even though I may not intend it,” Guterson has said, “these places just emerge as major players in what I’m doing, almost as if they are insisting on it.”

Ed King, his most recent book, is a darkly comic version of the Oedipus myth, starring a Seattle technology titan.

It was named one of The Seattle Times’ Best Books of the Year, while The Times of London said it was written “as though Sophocles had gone into amiable partnership with John Updike.”

After teaching high school English for 10 years — and working on Snow Falling on Cedars in the early mornings — Guterson began writing full time.

He has since received a Guggenheim Fellowship and cofounded Field’s End, an organization for writers.

And together with his wife, Robin, the writer home-schooled their four children, and wrote a book of essays on education called Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense.

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: November 12. 2012 5:37PM
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