A secret network smuggling Chinese immigrants into Washington state and a ruptured tanker gushing oil into Alaska waters are hot topics for John Keeble.
The award-winning novelist, short story author and creative writing teacher will share his expertise and read his work next week in Juneau.
``He's a strong spokesperson for the role of the writer in addressing important social and cultural questions. His novels get you thinking about ethical questions, decisions people have to make in their lives,'' said Carolyn Servid of Sitka.
Servid, a writer and editor, is a founder and co-director of the Sitka-based Island Institute, a non-profit community-building and environmental outreach group. The institute is sponsoring Keeble's trip to Southeast Alaska as part of Alaska Literary Trail, a three-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
``He's a very strong writer, first of all, and he's a very interesting man to talk to,'' Servid said.
Keeble has published four novels, numerous short stories and a nonfiction book on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He wrote a public television documentary on the life of writer Raymond Carver, which was nominated for a regional Emmy Award. He has taught at Eastern Washington University for 25 years and is the director of the master of fine arts program there.
Keeble has traveled extensively in Alaska, and spent a great deal of time in the Prince William Sound area.
Servid first worked with Keeble in 1990, when he was a guest at the institute's annual conference on writing and ideas. Servid, who produces the institute's thrice-annual literary publication, has included Keeble's work in an anthology she edited.
Keeble is working on a new novel and a screenplay set in Alaska. He's also preparing to publish a new collection of short stories.
He has received a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Washington State Governor's Award and four faculty research grants from the Northwest Foundation. His essay, ``Black Spring in Valdez,'' was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Village Voice, and his short stories have been anthologized in numerous collections.
Besides coming to Juneau and Sitka, Keeble will also read and teach in Gustavus during his current trip to Alaska.
Keeble will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown library. There is no charge. He'll teach a writing workshop from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery at 206 North Franklin, and the cost is $20. Call 586-2787 to register.