Thursday, September 29th at 7:00 pm

Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House
58 West 10th Street

JoyceJoyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. Her books include the national bestsellers “We Were the Mulvaneys” and “Blonde” (a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and the New York Times bestsellers “The Falls” (winner of the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger) and “The Gravedigger’s Daughter.” Her essay collection “Soul at the White Heat” is new from Ecco Press this fall.

 

Admission is free.

Cave Canem Presents: New Works

Friday, September 30th at 5:00 pm

Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House
58 West 10th Street

A Review: Balancing Commitment and Craft in Political Fiction

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WNBA-NYC Chapter Event: Balancing Commitment and Craft in Political Fiction
The political fiction panel speakers, left to right: Céline Keating, Elizabeth Nunez, Tiphanie Yanique, Ellen Meeropol, Marnie Mueller.

 

 

Introduction by Andrea Baron, VP Programming, WNBA-NYC
Over 100 people attended our November 5th panel discussion on Political Fiction at Pace University in New York City. The Dyson College departments of Pace Publishing, Women’s and Gender Studies, and English departments co-sponsored the event, and the many students in the audience set the tone for a lively discussion of the traditions and inspirations for political fiction, as well as the challenges facing women writers.

Our authors discussed the challenges of writing political fiction — framing language, developing character, and structuring plot to dramatize conflicts of class, race, gender, and politics while avoiding the pitfalls of authorial intrusion and didacticism.

The panel included six accomplished novelists: Ellen Meeropol, author of House Arrest ;Marnie Mueller, author of My Mother’s Island;   Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning: A NovelElizabeth Nunez author of Boundaries; and Céline Keating, author of Layla. The panel was moderated by writer and teacher Susan Breen, author of The Fiction Class.

 

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Alex Grover, a current Pace MS in Publishing graduate student who attended the event, shares his insights about the panel and what the authors had to say: 

Duty against the Norm: How Five Authors Write Political Fiction in Order to Change Their World

By Alex Grover

Why aren’t more books tackling tough and ambiguous subjects?

That was my question after having the privilege to attend a powerful panel hosted by the WNBA-NYC called, Balancing Commitment and Craft in Political Fiction. The five novelists—Céline Keating, Elizabeth Nunez, Tiphanie Yanique, Ellen Meeropol, and Marnie Mueller—in a discussion moderated by Susan Breen talked about their united cause in not only giving voice to important, impactful movements but also giving themselves voices as women. As Yanique stated early in the conversation, “to be a woman writer, even today, is a political act.”

The novelists first discussed their books as examples of the niche political fiction genre, including a story of growing up as a white non-prisoner in a Japanese internment camp, a mindful revision of The Tempest, and a discovery of self-identity during the feminist movement of the late 60s and early 70s. Why did they write these books? For Mueller, it was wanting “to know my background, what my parents did during World War II.” For Nunez, it was a way to articulate how those who appropriated her culture in the past had generalized and transformed her people into something they weren’t. In writing Prospero’s Daughter, Nunez “talks back to Shakespeare.”

Breen, an author herself and an instructor at Gotham Writers’ Workshop in Manhattan, then asked the panel, “What is political fiction?” At its core, it’s “tersely political material,” said Mueller, “strung together with a plot.” From Meeropol’s experience, “Real political fiction should be partisan, but should ask the reader to take a stand.” As Yanique put it, writing political fiction meant “consciously writing against a particular kind of patriarchy.” No matter the interpretation of the question, the panel met at an agreement that all novels, no matter their structure, are political to some degree. “If you have a book that exclusively features white people in a white suburb,” she said, “that’s still political. That’s still making a statement. It’s just that that statement doesn’t go against the status quo.”

On writing and craft, the authors gave advice for those who wanted to pen their own novels. While a novel may be a vital tool in influencing our society, it must also be entertaining. “We are wrapping you up and pulling you in,” Nunez said, comparing the process to a sequence from Charlotte’s Web where a fly allows itself to be captured by the titular spider. “You don’t know you’re being eaten.” From implanting “zingers” in a work to using mystery as a vehicle for political subversion, as Céline described in her own observation of the genre, authors must still keep the audience’s attention.

As powerful as their statements were, the panelists recognized that there are barriers that must be overcome in the publishing industry. Considering minority writers, Nunez talked about how a publishing house will say they publish black writers, yet those writers are still gathered in marginal imprints, or ghettoes as Nunez referred to them, and not exposed to mainstream audiences. As Nunez asked when considering the problem, “Are we not human?”

The evening with these authors was an exploration of the underpinnings of contemporary thought, a writing workshop, and a challenging view of current publishing paradigms. Some standards of writing we consider to be normal are not. As Yanique asked, “There’s not one gay person in Maine?” She was referring to an unnamed and popular author that actively influences our perception of the times. Considering the many social issues of the present still unresolved, the panelists recognized their moral obligation—and accepted.

 

Alex Grover (@AlexPGrover) is a graduate assistant at Pace University Press. He has written articles for Quirk Books and Apiary Magazine and has work published in Strange Horizons (forthcoming) and Acappella Zoo. He is currently participating in NaNoWriMo.

Around Town: November 15-22

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Bryan Stevenson & Piper Kerman

November 19, 6:30pm
686 Fulton street, Brooklyn, NY 11217

9780812994520Bryan Stevenson, one of the country’s most visionary legal thinkers, social justice advocates, and a MacArthur “genius”, takes us on an unforgettable journey into the broken American criminal justice system with his new book Just Mercy. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people, driven by the belief that our society is ultimately judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. His book follows one defining case, the suspenseful battle to free an unjustly accused man from death row in Alabama, while also stepping back to tell the profoundly moving stories of men, women, and even children, who find themselves at the mercy of a system where poverty and racism are often larger factors than guilt or innocence. Praised by Tracy Kidder, Michelle Alexander, Isabel Wilkerson, John Grisham and Desmond Tutu, Stevenson’s book has the potential to open our eyes to the most pressing injustices of our era. Stevenson talks about his work, his book, and the American legal system with Piper Kerman, author of the prison memoir Orange is the New Black (the basis for the hit Netflix series), at Bedford Stuyvesant’s community nonprofit Restoration Plaza. Reception and book signing to follow.

Free and open to the public, but RSVP is appreciated; click here or here to RSVP. Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is located at 1368 Fulton Street (at Marcy Avenue) in Brooklyn.

 

 

Women’s Fiction Panel (with Ru Freeman, Taiye Selasi, Tiphanie Yanique, Mira Jacob, Elliott Holt, and Alison Hart)

November 20th, 7:00pm 
52 Prince St, New York, New York 10012

Come to McNally Jackson and join a stellar lineup of authors for a discussion of being writers, being women, and being both, and readings from passages they each found most difficult to write in recent work. With Ru Freeman (ON SAL MAL LANE), Taiye Selasi (GHANA MUST GO), Tiphanie Yanique (LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING), Mira Jacob (THE SLEEPWALKER’S GUIDE TO DANCING), Elliott Holt (YOU ARE ONE OF THEM), and fiction writer Alison Hart.

 

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Evangeline Lilly: The Squickerwonkers, Vol. 1

November 17, 4:00pm
97 Warren Street, New York, NY 10007

Actress Evangeline Lilly, star of Lost and The Hobbit, joins us to discuss her new book Squickerwonkers vol 1. Priority seating with book purchase. Ask any bookseller for details and event guidelines.

 

Art Folds Event

November 21, 6:00pm
97 Warren Street, New York, NY 10007

Customers are invited to transform a book into a piece of art or create an origami heart card using the ArtFolds technique. Recommended for ages 13 and up. Please arrive early; space and supplies are limited.

 

The Way of Shadows: The Graphic Novel, by Andy Macdonald

9780316212984_p0_v3_s260x420November 22, 6:00pm
267 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

From the gutters of the Warrens to the opulent court at Khalidor, Brent Weeks’s epic fantasy THE WAY OF SHADOWS unfolds on the page of this graphic novel adaptation as seen through the eyes of seasoned illustrator Andy MacDonald!

For the orphan Azoth, there are precious few avenues out of the life of a guild rat in the back alleys of the Warrens. There are no rewards without risks, and there are few greater risks than apprenticing yourself to the city’s most accomplished assassin, Durzo Blint.

Reborn as Kylar Stern, the young man must learn to navigate the intrigues of politics and the intricacies of magic, but does he have both the killer instinct and the raw talent to survive the cutthroat life he’s chosen?