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painful, not 'Scary'
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One-hundred-sixteen years of editorialfreedom
www.michiganday.com Ann Arbor, Michigan Vol. CXVI, No. 114 62006 The Michigan Daily
her start in
Elizabeth Kostova won $7,000
Hopwood award for novel in progress
that would become "The Historian," a
New York Times bestseller
By Anne VanderMey
Daily News Editor
When Elizabeth Kostova came to the University in 2002,
she didn't tell anyone about the "little project" she had been
working on for nearly eight years.
After finishing the University's two-year master's in
fine arts program in creative writing, she received both her
degree and something even more valuable: a $2-million
But a decade's work doesn't seem that long considering
the epic feat that is "The Historian." More than 600 pages
long, it is a hybrid between a vampire thriller and a Vic-
torian travelogue. Shortly after the copyright was sold to
Little Brown and Co. at an auction between eight publish-
ing companies, Sony swept up the movie rights for an addi-
tional $1.5 million.
The film is slated to be produced by Douglas Wicks, who
also produced "Gladiator."
In the past year, Kostova has toured the world to promote
her novel, which has been published in 37 languages. It was
also number one on the New York Times bestseller's list.
When Kostova came to the
University, she uprooted from a A L U M N I
comfortable home in Philadel-
phia and moved her family into
a small one-bedroom apartment
not far from campus.
She and her husband, whom
she met while traveling in Bul-
garia with folk-singing anthro-
pologists from Yale University, P R O F I L E S
sacrificed stable, well-paying Tenth in a
jobs to make the move to the semester-long
Kostova didn't come to the
University in hopes of someday
securing a multimillion-dollar book deal. She came because
the program offered her the best financial aid and the people
in it seemed "to like each other, and that's not always true
in writing programs," she said. The aid package let her to
focus her energy on her writing.
In 2003, Kostova won a $7,000 Hopwood Award for a
novel in progress, which turned into "The Historian."
The cash from her Hopwood award allowed her to work
on the novel almost full-time in the summer months and
was instrumental to her finishing the book.
"For the first time, I had a lot of time to write," she said.
Kostova worked closely with professors at the University
during the writing process. She rewrote it twice before she
actually submitted it to an agent.
English Prof. Nick Delbanco, the director of the Hop-
wood program, said his involvement was chiefly to "reduce
the book from 1,100 pages to the mere 900 pages it is."
Today, Kostova, who is lives in Ann Arbor, is working on
another long travelogue, part of which is set in the town.
At a reading in the Rackham Auditorium in January, she
said the book was sure to involve "a lot of bodily fluids."
And true to her word, in a short reading, she incorporated
blood, sweat, vomit and saliva into a few short passages.
Kostova is hesitant to expound on details of the new
novel for fear of "jinxing it," but she said it also involves
a lot of travel and research, though not as much as "The
With her busy schedule, it's a marvel she has any time for
writing novels. She estimates she's given over 100 interviews
in the past year, not counting book signings and readings.
English Prof. Jeremy Chamberlin said Kostova has
always had a gift for multi-tasking. Kostova herself says she
writes whenever she can, including in the car at stoplights.
"I try to only do it at the red ones," she said.
"She once told me she works in five-minute increments,
See ALUM, page 7A
Hillel, Greek system, SAPAC team up
to distribute whistles as part of broader
campaign to decrease campus crime
By Anne VanderMey
Daily News Editor
LSA junior Joey DeBartolo was walking down Hill Street at
about 2 pm. on a Sunday last month when a white van pulled
into a driveway, cutting her off. She tried walking around the
car when a man got out and demanded her purse. He forcibly
took her bag and sped away.
DeBartolo said she tried to run after him, but "you can't catch
a car going 40 miles per hour."
When she tried to approach people on the street to ask if
they'd seen the van, they shook her off and kept walking.
"I didn't necessarily lose anything valuable," she said. "But I
feel like I lost something invaluable in the sense that I don't feel
safe on campus."
DeBartolo now carries a small blue metal whistle embla-
zoned with the words "M All Together." The whistle is part of a
campaign by the University chapter of Hillel, the campus Greek
system and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Cen-
ter to promote safety and awareness of crime.
"We don't believe that this is the end all, be all to making
campus a safer place, but rather it is a part of a broader cam-
paign to create a better and safer environment on campus," said
Perry Teicher, chair of Hillel's governing board.
Teicher, an LSA junior who organized the event in conjunc-
tion with the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Asso-
ciation, said the whistles are a "symbolic gesture" intended to
indirectly prevent street crime by promoting awareness.
The idea behind the whistles is that if people carry them,
they're more likely to come to help someone who's distressed
in their time of need.
LSA senior Melissa Weston, education co-coordinator for
SAPAC, said the campaign is a departure from the traditional
idea that it's a woman's responsibility to drive a predator away
with a loud noise, placing the emphasis instead on the commu-
nity to take action.
"Traditionally it's just women's responsibility, and what this
is doing it turning it around and saying this is all together our
responsibility," Weston said. "(The campaign will) kind of
reclaim that metaphor."
The recent rash of armed robberies on campus has caused
some students to feel uneasy walking around on campus.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown
said the increased danger may be perceived instead of real.
"It's hard for people your age to think of all the crimes of the
'60s and all the crimes of the '80s, but those had their peaks
too'Brown said. "If you look on a chart, it doesn't just keep on
going up over the decades:'
DeBartolo said she doesn't think she would have blown her
whistle had she had it when she was accosted last month, but-
that it helps people understand they need to self-police.
"I think it's just a good idea in the sense that it shows, 'Hey,
we are we all supposed to be here together: " she said. "Maybe
if someone comes up to you says, 'Hey did you see a white van
go by,' maybe you should stop."
. . .. .. , . . . . . .... ... . .*.. .......
Where to get whistles
Whistles are available at the offices of the
University's chapter of Hillel and at the Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
Organizers will distribute a batch of whistles to
sororities, most likely sometime later this week.
Ricky Robinson, an graduate of the University's MBA program, is photographed behind his book, "Money Brains," which
was written to help college students become financially literate.
MBA grad aims to educate
students in personal finance
about how to handle
By Walter Nowinski
For the Daily
If you don't know what your
credit rating is, you're not alone.
According to a recent study, 68
percent of college students rarely
or never budget, half don't pay
their credit card bills regularly or
in full, and only 40 percent know
what the interest rates on their
credit cards are.
Ricky Robinson hopes to
Robinson, who earned an MBA
from the Stephen M. Ross School
of Business and taught account-
ing at the University's Dearborn
campus last year, said many col-
lege students are risking their
futures by not understanding the
basics of personal finance.
"What you don't want to do is
become the working poor, anda
"In five or 10 years, when you
go to buy a new car or a house,
the decisions you made at college
are going to affect the interest
rate you'll get," Robinson said.
The average undergraduate has
$2,200 and the average gradu-
ate student $5,800 in credit card
debt, according to Nellie Mae,
the nation's largest issuer of stu-
Robinson said the most impor-
tant thing college students can do
to improve life after graduation
is to take a course in personal
"Right now kids are learn-
ing personal finance by chance,"
Robinson said. "You don't want
to learn by chance, because that
can be painful."
Currently the University does
not offer any courses in person-
al finance, although many other
universities do, including Michi-
gan State University.
According to administrators,
the economics department has
no plans to offer an introductory
course in personal finance.
"Matters of personal finance
are not part of the field of eco-
nomics," said Lutz Killian, asso-
ciate chair for student affairs in
the economics department.
LSA junior Jeremy Smoot,
who admitted to having a "fair
amount" of credit card debt, said
he thinks the University should
offer a mini-course in personal
"If they had personal finance
See MONEY BRAINS, page 7A
Almost all residents back
in West Quad after flood
Three students housed in Wenley
House have not been let back into
their water-damaged rooms
By Leah Graboski
Daily Staff Reporter
will be ready, or if they'll be ready by the end
of the semester.
Of the rooms affected by the flood, those on
the first floor saw the most damage.
Kyle Zimmerman, a first floor resident, said a
four-person room on his floor was hit the hard-
est. Most of the paint on its ceiling peeled off as
a result of the leakage.
'U' had one of the
Qi-A,, nrn-.,.,m c
ies celebrated its 35th anniversary.
The center sponsored a confer-
ence called "The Future of Black
Studies" last Thursday and Friday at