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The Puterbaugh Festival of International Literature & Culture

2014 Puterbaugh Fellow Andrés Neuman

The spring 2016 festival featured novelist, poet, and essayist Alain Mabanckou as well as visiting scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA.

Mabanckou (b. 1966) is a prolific francophone poet and novelist who has been called “the African Samuel Beckett” and “a novelist of exuberant originality” for his wordplay, philosophical bent, and sometimes sly and often absurd sense of humor. A French citizen born in the Republic of the Congo, Mabanckou currently lives in LA, where he teaches literature at UCLA. The author of six volumes of poetry and six novels, he is the winner of the Grand Prix de la Littérature 2012 and has received the Sub-Saharan African Literature Prize and the Prix Renaudot. In 2015 Mabanckou was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize and was recently awarded the prestigious French Voices Grand Prize for 2016. His books in English include African PsychoBroken GlassBlack BazaarTomorrow I Will Be Twenty, Letter to Jimmy, and The Lights of Pointe-Noire.

Highlights of the week included poetry readings and a francophone film screening on opening night, public talks by Mabanckou (followed by audience Q&A), lectures by visiting scholars Lydie Moudileno and Dominic Thomas, and roundtable discussions of francophone literature and culture. For more information, visit

Students can also take the Puterbaugh course in conjunction with the festival each spring. Watch some of our most recent Puterbaugh Festival highlights reels below to see what exciting things happen at the festival each year.




About the Festival

The Puterbaugh Festivals of World Literature & Culture are made possible by a generous grant from the J. G. Puterbaugh Foundation of McAlester, Oklahoma, and sponsored by World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, founded in 1927. A rich tradition in support of literary and international studies at OU, the Puterbaugh Festivals bring the world’s greatest authors—often a winner or a soon-to-be winner of the Nobel Prize—to the OU campus for a course built around the author’s work, an international symposium, public talks and performances, and engagement with students, many of whom receive fellowships to study the Puterbaugh fellow’s work. Since 1968, the Puterbaugh series has furthered the educations of thousands of OU students.

The Puterbaugh Festivals continue to be a living tribute to J. G. Puterbaugh (1876–1965), an Oklahoma philanthropist, entrepreneur, and civic leader who loved poetry and believed it to be a source of cultural enlightenment and a means for understanding other cultures from around the world. He also believed in learning foreign languages as a primary channel of gaining insight into other cultures. Honoring the example of Mr. Puterbaugh, the Puterbaugh series demonstrates that at OU the spirit of learning about international literature and world culture is a lasting frontier. The Puterbaugh Foundation continues to make grants to benefit Oklahoma education, health care, medical research, youth and children’s programs, and other projects that enhance the quality of life in Oklahoma.

See a list of past Puterbaugh Fellows on the Puterbaugh Festival website,