Episode 51 – Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

I Feel Your Pain: An Evening with Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

Moderated by PEN/Faulkner Board President Richard McCann

Mitchell S. Jackson’s novel The Residue Years, the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, is based on his own coming-of-age, in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood harrowed by the crack cocaine epidemic. Leslie Jamison’s widely-lauded essay collection The Empathy Exams starts with her own memories of working as a model patient for medical students and goes on to explore how we perceive other people’s pain. Both writers investigate the extremes of experience – their own and others’ – in dazzling fiction and essays.

 

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

The PEN/Faulkner Award Judges’ Reading

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PEN/Faulkner Presents: The 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award Judges

Abby Frucht, Molly McCloskey, & Sergio Troncoso

Thursday, May 12th, 2016  |  7:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Register Here

Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20003

Join us to kick off the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award weekend with readings by this year’s Award judges, all exceptional fiction writers themselves: Abby Frucht, Molly McCloskey, and Sergio Troncoso!

abby frucht coverAbby Frucht‘s new novel, A Well Made Bed, on which she collaborated with Laurie Alberts, was published in March 2016 by Red Hen Press. Her five other novels include SNAP, Licorice, Are You Mine?, Life Before Death, and Polly’s Ghost,and her two collections of stories are Fruit of the Month, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize for 1987, and The Bell at the End of a Rope.The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, Frucht lives in Wisconsin and has been on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts for twenty years.

 

 

 

 

 

Molly McCloskey was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Oregon. After spending 23 years in Ireland, she now lives between Washington, DC and Dublin. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Solomon’s Seal; a novella, The Beautiful Changes; and a novel, Protection. Her first work of nonfiction, a memoir concerning her brother Mike, who suffers from schizophrenia, is entitled Circles Around the Sun: In Search of a Lost Brother (2012). She is a regular contributor to the Irish Times and the Dublin Review, and has taught writing at universities in Ireland and the US, serving as Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin and at University College Dublin. In 2013/2014, she was the Jenny McKean Moore Fellow at George Washington University.

 

 

 

wicked dustSergio Troncoso is the author of the novels The Nature of Truth and From This Wicked Patch of Dust, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best novels of 2012. Troncoso is also the author of Crossing Borders: Personal Essays and The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, and he co-edited Our Lost Border: Essays on Life amid the Narco-Violence. Among the numerous awards he has won are the Premio Aztlan Literary Prize, Southwest Book Award, Bronze Award for Essays from ForeWord Reviews, and International Latino Book Award. He is a resident faculty member of the Yale Writers’ Conference. He lives in New York City.

 

 

And don’t miss the judges at the PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony on May 14th!

Tickets and information: www.penfaulkner.org/award-for-fiction/

April 27th – Free Minds Book Club

We Can Be the Change: Voices of Incarcerated Youth
Free Minds Poetry Reading & Community Dialogue
Wednesday, April 27th at 7 p.m. 
Hill Center
921 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003 [Map]
Reserve Your Free Tickets Here

Read about Writers in Schools and Free Minds Book Club in The Washington Post.

Please join us for an evening of poetry and community dialogue brought to you by Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop and PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools program.

Be a part of the solution by listening to poetry and first-hand experiences from the formerly incarcerated poets featured in The Untold Story of the Real Me: Young Voices from Prison, a literary journal collecting poetry by Free Minds members and personal essays by young men who are now home from prison and overcoming the odds. Following the poetry reading, there will be a moderated discussion about causes and potential solutions to violence in our city. Panelists will include formerly incarcerated Free Minds members as well as other returning citizens who have overcome the odds. By getting everyone on the same page, we create a stronger, healthier community.

Free Minds uses books, creative writing, and peer support to awaken DC youth incarcerated as adults to their own potential. Through creative expression, job readiness training, and violence prevention outreach, these young poets achieve their education and career goals, and become powerful voices for change in the community. This mirrors the mission of PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools, which works to foster an active and thoughtful next generation of readers by bringing professional writers and their recent works directly into DC classrooms for discussions about literature and life.

In the past four years, Free Minds and PEN/Faulkner have teamed up to blend these two programs, bringing Free Minds writers who are home from prison into high school classrooms to read and discuss their own poetry and experiences with local students. This evening gives Free Minds and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation the opportunity to extend this work out into the broader community.

We Can Be the Change: Voices of Incarcerated Youth is made possible by a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation.

PEN/Faulkner and the Folger Theatre Present: Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich Credit Paul Emmel

Louise Erdrich

May 10th, 2016  |  7:30 PM

In Collaboration with the Library of Congress

Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003 (map)

Tickets $15 online or at 202-544-7077

“Book by book, over the past three decades, Louise Erdrich has built one of the most moving and engrossing collections of novels in American literature.”

– Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World

LaRoseLouise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels, a volume of short stories, several books of poetry, and a series of children’s books. Her novel The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award; she is a former Guggenheim Fellow and has received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. 

In 2015, Erdrich received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a lifetime achievement award, presented at the National Book Festival this past September. On May 10th, Erdrich will join PEN/Faulkner at an event co-hosted by the Library of Congress to read from her forthcoming novel, LaRose.

Purchase Tickets

 

 

April 21st: Helen Oyeyemi

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Helen Oyeyemi  |  What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

6:30 PM at Politics & Prose @ Busboys and Poets Takoma, in conversation with The New Yorker‘s Margaret Talbot

The last Spring 2016 PEN/Faulkner and Politics & Prose reading will be Helen Oyeyemi,  who is the author of five novels, including Boy, Snow, Bird; White is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award; and Mr Fox. In 2013 she was included in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list. She will be reading from her new story collection, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.

 What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

March 7th: A. Igoni Barrett

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A. Igoni Barrett  |  Blackass

6:30 PM at Politics & Prose @ Busboys and Poets 14th & V

PEN/Faulkner and Politics & Prose present A. Igoni Barrett, author of Blackass and Love Is Power, or Something Like That. He is a winner of the 2005 BBC World Service short story competition, the recipient of a Chinua Achebe Center Fellowship, a Norman Mailer Center Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency.

Blackass

blackassFuro Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass. Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar, and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways.

A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us, simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria, and details the double-dealing and code-switching that is implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity—one deeper than skin—that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.

Feb. 21st: Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara  |  A Little Life

In Conversation with Mic’s Madhulikka Sikka

6:30 PM at Politics & Prose @ Busboys and Poets Takoma

PEN/Faulkner and Politics & Prose present Hanya Yanagihara, Man Booker- and National Book Award-shortlisted author of A Little Life and The People in the Trees. This event is free and unticketed.

A Little Life

little lifeWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Feb. 11th: Alexander Chee

Alex_FinalAlexander Chee  |  The Queen of the Night

In Conversation with Hache Carrillo

6:30 PM at Politics & Prose @ Busboys and Poets Brookland

The Politics & Prose and PEN/Faulkner Reading Series returns with Alexander Chee, 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award Judge and author of Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night. This reading is free and unticketed.

The Queen of the Night: 

queen of the nightLilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.

Featuring a cast of characters drawn from history, The Queen of the Night follows Lilliet as she moves ever closer to the truth behind the mysterious opera and the role that could secure her reputation — or destroy her with the secrets it reveals.

PEN/Faulkner Presents: Edna O’Brien

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Edna O’Brien

April 3rd, 2016  |  6:00 PM

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
600 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 (map)

Tickets $20 online or at 877-987-6487

Edna O’Brien has been hailed as the doyenne of Irish literature. Her first novel in a decade, The Little Red Chairs – her “masterpiece,” says Philip Roth – will be released in March 2016. From the beginning of her career, O’Brien broke literary ground, writing openly about female sexuality in her first novel, The Country Girls. The book was lauded by critics and banned by the Irish Censorship Board. The idea that women had sex lives was, at that time, an obscene notion.

In the half century that’s followed, O’Brien has become one of the most celebrated writers in the English language.  She’s received the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, and honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. O’Brien will discuss her new novel and share her genius with us, if just for an evening.

Purchase Tickets

 

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Feb. 23rd: Celeste Ng and John Wray

 

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Not Waving but Drowning: An Evening with Celeste Ng and John Wray

Moderated by Katy Waldman

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 
(map)

A “perfect” daughter goes missing in an Ohio town in the 1970s; a schizophrenic teenaged boy escapes from a mental hospital to the New York subway. Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You) and John Wray (Lowboy) explore family secrets and expectations, adolescent yearning and the fascination with danger.

 

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, a New York Times Notable Book and Amazon Best Book of the Year in 2014. Her fiction and essays have appeared in TriQuarterly, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. Her short story “Girls, At Play” received a Pushcart Prize in 2012. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Everything I Never Told You is at heart the beautifully crafted story of a family in pain, and the many reasons, personal and societal, that the Lees have lived most of their lives as strangers to one another. Making us care so deeply about her characters is Ng’s triumph.” – May-Lee Chai, The Dallas Morning News


 

 

John Wray is the author of the novels The Right Hand of Sleep, which won a Whiting Writers’ Award, Canaan’s TongueLowboy, and The Lost Time Accidents (forthcoming February 2016). He is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine. He was the recipient of a Berlin Prize from the American Academy of Berlin and is a resident of New York City.

“What is impressive about [Lowboy] is its control, and its humane comprehension of radical otherness. In this regard, it ideally justifies itself, as one always hopes novels will. You can imagine replying to someone who was curious about what it’s like to be schizophrenic, ‘Well, start with John Wray’s novel.’”

– James Wood, The New Yorker