Ruth Knafo Setton, writer-in-residence at the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). Setton, who is also a professor of practice in the department of English, will spend two weeks in December in residency at the VCCA.
The retreat, located in Amherst, Va., offers residential fellowships to approximately 20 visual artists, writers and composers. VCCA serves more than 300 artists a year, allowing them to concentrate on creative pursuits without the distractions of everyday life.
Setton will use the residency to continue writing her current novel, titled The Jigsaw Woman, which is the second book in a trilogy focusing on magic in America. The Jigsaw Woman pulls aside the curtain to reveal the shadowy realm of the woman magician. Setton recently completed the first novel of the series, The Zigzag Girl, which explores the intertwining roots—and routes—of magic and religion.
“Ever since I began my study of magic I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman in magic and how women's magic differs from men's,” says Setton. “There are many connections between being a woman magician and being a woman writer struggling to make her voice heard.”
At Lehigh, Setton teaches Jewish literature, women’s literature and creative writing. In addition to her critically acclaimed novel, The Road to Fez, she has published fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction in many journals and anthologies, including Becoming Myself: Growing Up Female, Best Contemporary Jewish Writing, The North American Review, Nimrod, Tikkun, and Another Chicago Magazine, as well as Wrestling with Zion and The Flying Camel. She gives many readings, lectures and writing workshops at universities, conferences, reading groups and book clubs.
“This fellowship will give me time and space to write in an environment that is wonderfully conducive to inspiration,” Setton says. “It’s a priceless gift.”