Award-winning, New York Times Best-selling Author
“Wally Lamb is almost as masterful a speaker as he is a writer. He was by turns funny, insightful, and poignant. He told wonderful ‘behind the scenes’ stories and discussed his work in surprising ways. My audience – all two thousand – felt like they spent an intimate evening with a friend.”
—Andrew Proctor, Portland Arts & Lectures
Wally Lamb is the author of six New York Times best-selling novels: I’ll Take You There, We Are Water, Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much is True, and She’s Come Undone and was twice selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Lamb also edited Couldn’t Keep It to Myself and I’ll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for the past 17 years. A sought-after keynote speaker, Wally Lamb has spoken at universities and colleges, libraries, arts and lecture venues, and literary festivals across the country. He also appears frequently with his poet and performer son Justin Lamb, a member of the 2013 National Poetry Slam Champion Team Slam New Orleans (Team SNO!).
In I’ll Take You There Lamb weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer’s life—Felix Funicello, introduced in Wishin’ and Hopin’—and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it, in this radiant homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women. The audio dramatization features an all-star cast, including Kathleen Turner, Dana Delany, Jonathan Davis, Laura Benanti and Jeremy Sisto.
Lamb’s first two novels, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were # 1 New York Times bestsellers, New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and featured titles of Oprah’s Book Club. I Know This Much Is True was a Book of the Month Club main selection and the June 1999 featured selection of the Bertelsman Book Club, the national book club of Germany. Between them, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True have been translated into 18 languages.
Lamb’s third novel, The Hour I First Believed, explores chaos theory by interfacing several generations of a fictional Connecticut family with such nonfictional American events as the Civil War, the Columbine High School shootings, the Iraq War, and Hurricane Katrina. The book reached #4 on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2009, Lamb published Wishin’ and Hopin’, a comedic look at the year 1964 through the eyes of Felix Funicello, a parochial school fifth grader and a distant cousin of the iconic Annette. Wishin’ and Hopin’, too, was a New York Times bestseller. Lamb’s fifth novel, We Are Water, is an intricate, multi-voiced account of a New England family coming to terms with the past and one another during the first years of the Obama presidency.
Lamb also edited Couldn’t Keep It to Myself and I’ll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for the past 14 years.
Wally Lamb is also the editor of the nonfiction anthologies Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters and I’ll Fly Away, collections of autobiographical essays which evolved from a writing workshop Lamb facilitates at Connecticut’s York Correctional Institute, a maximum-security prison for women. He has served as a Connecticut Department of Corrections volunteer at York from 1999 to the present, and his work there was the focus of a 2004 segment on CBS-TV’s Sixty Minutes.
Wally Lamb has said of his fiction, “Although my characters’ lives don’t much resemble my own, what we share is that we are imperfect people seeking to become better people. I write fiction so that I can move beyond the boundaries and limitations of my own experiences and better understand the lives of others. That’s also why I teach. As challenging as it sometimes is to balance the two vocations, writing and teaching are, for me, intertwined.”
Honors for Wally Lamb include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Connecticut Center for the Book’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Connecticut Bar Association’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” Award, the Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award, The National Institute of Business/Apple Computers “Thanks To Teachers” award, and the 2010 Arts and Letters award from the YMCA of New York City. Lamb has received Distinguished Alumni awards from Vermont College and the University of Connecticut. He was the 1999 recipient of the New England Book Award for fiction. I Know This Much Is True won the Friends of the Library USA Readers’ Choice Award for best novel of 1998, the result of a national poll, and the Kenneth Johnson Memorial Book Award, which honored the novel’s contribution to the anti-stigmatization of mental illness. She’s Come Undone was a 1992 “Top Ten” Book of the Year selection in People magazine and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Best First Novel of 1992. I’ll Fly Away was a 2008 Connecticut Book Award Winner for non-fiction.
Wally Lamb is a Connecticut native who holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in teaching from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Degree from Vermont College. Lamb was in the ninth year of his twenty-five year career as a high school English teacher at his alma mater, the Norwich Free Academy, when he began to write fiction in 1981. He was also an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut, where he directed the English Department’s creative writing program.
Wally Lamb and his wife Christine live in northeastern Connecticut and are the parents of three sons, Jared, Justin, and Teddy.
Praise for Wally Lamb’s Talks
“Wally was delightful and many people expressed their appreciation of his appearing at the conference. His Excellency Sheik Nayhan bin Mubarak Al Nayhan referenced Wally’s contribution to the conference in his address which is quite a compliment. Obviously Wally is a wonderful storyteller and he was able to keep the diverse audience captivated.”
—Ahmad Almai, M.D., Chief of Child Psychiatry, Chairman of Organizing Committee, Second Child Mental and Behavioral Health Conference
“As keynote speaker for the 12th annual Jambalaya Writers’ Conference, Wally Lamb truly made our day successful. His kindness, consideration, and gentle nature put our audience at ease, gave them motivation and inspiration as aspiring writers, and provided them with an great insight into an author’s vision and life. Wally graciously acknowledged and spoke to every attendee who addressed him personally, and showed the light staff the greatest respect. We rarely have repeat presenters, but Wally would be considered to return to this conference.”
—Lauren Bordelon, Jambalaya Writers Conference
“Wally Lamb’s presentation about his creative process was tremendously insightful, funny, and filled with personal anecdotes. We’d welcome him back to Dallas in a heartbeat!”
—Carolyn Bess, Director, Arts & Letters Live, Dallas Museum of Art
“Wally Lamb was so genuine and kind hearted and offered our students a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with a bestselling author. He shared with them many personal and professional stories that they will carry the rest of their lives. Wally was funny and engaging and really won the crowd over with his stories and insight.”
—Jackie LeViseur, The Skeggs Foundation of Youngstown State University
“Wally Lamb was an engaging speaker who connected with his audience of high school students, faculty and community members by providing details about his personal experience and ways in which that experience has informed his writing. He was the kick-off speaker for the Cheshire Academy Center for Writing and I cannot imagine another individual doing a better job of serving as an inspiration for the writing process.”
—Wendy Swift, Cheshire Academy Center for Writing
“Wally’s presentation was wonderful – he has a great sense of humor and shared himself so generously with everyone in the audience… There was a wonderful feeling of intimacy to the conversation. . . top notch.”
—Barbara Bell, Artistic Director, Kingston WritersFest
“Wally was spectacular. About 400 attended for our National Library Week celebration. Standing room only. To my dismay, someone even called the fire marshal, as we were at capacity in the balcony at 130! Wally was tops (librarians are tough judges and all here agree), was everything you would want in an author (or anyone, for that matter). I believe he had the whole event worked out in his head beforehand, and then made that event happen, managing everything like a master.”
—Joe Cadieux, Program Coordinator, West Hartford Public Library
“Wally Lamb’s presentation was humorous and enlightening. The excerpts that he chose to read were ones that left one wanting more even from those who had read the book. Our audience was enthralled and the Q & A was equally engaging.”
—Nancy Rebek, Denver Pen and Podium Series
“Wally Lamb is a generous, open speaker. He had everyone is the audience mesmerized with his deeply personal stories sprinkled with a touch of humor and humlity.”
—Christine Painter, Literary Sojourn: Steamboat Springs’ Festival of Authors
“Our organization has been hosting authors for many years, but our experience with Wally Lamb was one of the best. Not only is Wally a wonderfully gifted author, he is also a genuinely nice and personable speaker who gave a thought provoking speech to our audience. If you want to hear a speaker who will have you laughing, thinking and even crying, Wally Lamb will not disappoint.”
—Mary Papadimitriou, Junior League of Lancaster, PA
“Wally is an engaging and dynamic speaker who captivated our audience. He’s funny, self-deprecating, and has a unique perspective on the people we encounter in life. His ongoing work with the women at Connecticut’s York Prison, and his dedication to them, are truly inspirational.”
—Joan L. Gurski, Channel 3 Kids Camp Foundation
Praise for Wally Lamb’s Books
“We are water: ‘fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too.’ That’s evident in this emotionally involving new novel . . . Clear and sweetly flowing; highly recommended.”
—Library Journal, starred review on We are Water
“Lamb . . . has delivered a tour de force, his best yet. A”
—Entertainment Weekly on The Hour I First Believed
“Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb’s latest novel is stunning – and even that might be an understatement. This is a masterpiece.”
—Associated Press on This Much I Know Is True
“The stories in Couldn’t Keep It to Myself are self-assured, deftly structured, and grippingly paced.”
—New York Post on Couldn’t Keep It To Myself
“The book challenges stereotypes and offers a world of information about how women end up in prison. It’s a certainty that I’ll Fly Away will be… required reading in middle schools and high schools and for sociology and psychology majors all over the country.”
—San Antonio Express-News on I’ll Fly Away
“…in the hands of Wally Lamb, what emerges isn’t an apology but a celebration of life – flawed, goofy, wonderful life – Felix makes a hilarious guide through a story that whirs right along.”
—Washington Post on Wishin’ and Hopin’