Join us for an unforgettable evening with the internationally acclaimed author, Alice McDermott in celebration of our 175th anniversary. 

With her trademark intellectual lucidity, McDermott’s works explore universal themes of faith, doubt, love, and loss as they unfold across generations.

Her most recent novel, The Ninth Hour, demonstrates deep admiration for women religious, their spirit of service, and their relationship with neighborhood families, whose lives they are entwined with — offering insight into life in a pre-Vatican II era.

An Evening with — Alice McDermott
September 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Free Ticket with SMC Student ID

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Insights on the author and educator 

Alice McDermott’s eighth novel, The Ninth Hour, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in September 2017. Her seventh novel, Someone, 2013, was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the Dublin IMPAC Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Patterson Prize for Fiction, and The Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Someone was also long-listed for the National Book Award.  Three of her previous novels, After This, At Weddings and Wakes and That Night, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Charming Billy won the National Book Award for fiction in 1998 and was a finalist for the Dublin IMPAC Award. That Night was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Harpers, Commonweal and elsewhere.  She has received the Whiting Writers Award, the Carington Award for Literary Excellence, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for American Literature. In 2013, she was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. She is the former Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.

  • 1987 Received the Whiting Award
  • 2010 Received the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature
  • 2013Inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame

"I am not a theologian or a historian, and I feel no call to become a defender of the faith, so in my case, the search for what remains valuable focuses on language itself: Catholic prayer, ritual, the naming of things."

– Alice McDermott

The Ninth Hour 

A magnificent new novel from one of America’s finest writers—a powerfully affecting story spanning the twentieth century of a widow and her daughter and the nuns who serve their Irish-American community in Brooklyn.

On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens a gas tap in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove—to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his badgering, pregnant wife—that “the hours of his life . . . belonged to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Saviour, an aging nun, a Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor, appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.

In Catholic Brooklyn in the early part of the twentieth century, decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence, and yet his suicide, though never spoken of, reverberates through many lives—testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations. Rendered with remarkable delicacy, heart, and intelligence, Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.

The Ninth Hour was a finalist for The Kirkus Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.  In 2018 the novel was also awarded France's Prix Femina for translation.

Part of the Christian Culture Lecture Series

The event is presented by the Saint Mary’s College Department of Humanistic Studies as this year's Christian Culture Lecture. Each year, the lecture presents a preeminent figure in the humanities to explore some aspect of the Christian dimension of Western culture. The lectures began in 1957 as a series of symposia funded by the Lilly Endowment. With the support of other friends of the College, the series continued for a quarter century and brought to campus over 100 distinguished speakers. This year’s lecture honors the late Francis A. McAnaney (ND '29), Saint Mary's College Board of Trustees member from 1963-69, and is made possible by the generosity of his daughter Kathleen McAnaney Glaser '65.

Learn More About
the Christian Culture Lectures