Honorary Degree Citation
Anna Quindlen. Best-selling novelist. Essayist. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Mother! For more than 25 years you have been a voice for social justice, first as a city reporter at the New York Times, then as one of that paper’s first female columnists. In your columns titled “Life in the Thirties” and “Public and Private,” you chronicled contemporary life, with all its absurdities and triumphs. Your work continues in Newsweek, where you are known as a voice of compassionate and liberal sensibility and as a champion of women. As a novelist you have told the stories of families experiencing—and enduring—change and sadness, laughter and joy. Your novels, Object Lessons, Blessings, One True Thing, and Black and Blue, show us the dignity and the struggle in the lives of men and women trying to raise children, comfort aging parents, understand one another. Sometimes it is nearly impossible for us all to speak the same language, you note. But you encourage us to try. “Show up,” you advise. “Try to listen; try to laugh.” Above all you ask us to treasure the small moments, to be aware of our time on earth as a precious, fragile gift. “Life is made of moments,” you have written. “Small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. … We have to teach ourselves how to live, really live … to love the journey, and not the destination.” Because of your wise words, your idealism, and your common sense, your readers better understand the miracles of the commonplace and see more clearly the miraculous gift of our own lives.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Anna Quindlen, the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.
Conferred May 28, 2006
Anna Quindlen is a novelist and essayist. Over the last 30 years her work has appeared in leading American newspapers and magazines, including in columns in The New York Times (1981-1994) and Newsweek magazine, for which she continues to write the “Last Word.” She has written four best-selling novels, and a collection of her New York Times columns titled Thinking Out Loud was on the New York Times Best Seller List for more than three months in 1993. She joined The New York Times in 1977 as a general assignment reporter and was named the newspaper’s deputy metropolitan editor in 1983. She wrote the “About New York” column from 1981 to 1983 and created the “Life in the 80s” column in 1985. With the publication of her nonfiction book A Short Guide to a Happy Life, in 2000, she became the first writer to have books appear on the fiction, nonfiction, and self-help New York Times Best Seller lists. A graduate of Barnard College, she served as chair of Barnard’s board of trustees.