Friends of Elisabeth Wilkins Lombardo, a member of Stonecoast’s inaugural MFA class (2004) have shepherded Lombardo’s novel The Afterlife of Kenzaburo Tsuruda to publication. Lombardo was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 and died in July 2015.
As reported by Bob Keyes, staff writer at the Portland Press Herald, as Lombardo lay dying, her husband Joe and a group of writing friends promised they would publish her novel on her behalf. The first draft was part of Lombardo’s MFA thesis and won a PEN/New England Discovery Award based on its promise. Lombardo had worked on the manuscript for a decade and completed it the year before her death.
Current and former Stonecoast faculty, staff, and alumni were among the group of Lombardo’s writing champions who called themselves the Literary Fight Club. They included Shonna Milliken Humphrey, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Elizabeth Searle, Ann Hood, Jaed Coffin, Lewis Robinson, and Morgan Callan Rogers.
Lombardo’s friends will celebrate the novel’s publication by She Writes Press at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2, at Print: A Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland, and at 9 p.m. on Monday, November 5, at LFK, 188 St., Portland. Both events are open to the public.