Brooklyn Book Festival: Why Fiction Matters
Sunday September 20, 2015
At the Brooklyn Book Festival, Alexander Chee, Mitchell S. Jackson, Roxana Robinson, and Tiphanie Yanique read from their essays on "Why Fiction Matters" and took part in a roundtable discussion, moderated by our director, Noreen Tomassi. These essays were commissioned by The Center as part of our Fiction Futures project intended to engage readers and writers in a discussion of the importance of fiction in contemporary life and celebrate The Center's impending move to Brooklyn.
Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February of 2016. He is a recipient of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose, a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri, and Amtrak. His essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, Guernica, NPR and Out, among others. He has taught writing at Wesleyan University, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Columbia University, Amherst College and the University of Texas – Austin. He lives in New York City.
Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years won the Ernest Gaines Prize for literary excellence. It was also a finalist for the PEN / Hemingway Award, The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel prize, and the Hurston Wright Legacy award. Jackson has been awarded fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and The Center For Fiction.
Roxana Robinson is the author of Summer Light, This is My Daughter, Sweetwater, Cost, and Sparta; as well as three collections of short stories; and the biography Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Bookforum, and Vogue, among other publications. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review. Ms. Robinson has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is the president of the Authors Guild. She was a finalist for the NBCC Nona Balakian Award. Sparta won the Maine Fiction Award, and the James Webb Award from the USMC. She divides her time between New York, Connecticut, and Maine.
Tiphanie Yanique is the author of the novel, Land of Love and Drowning, which won the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award and is currently a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. She is also the author of a collection of stories, How to Escape from a Leper Colony, which won her a listing as one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35. BookPage listed Tiphanie as one of the 14 Women to watch out for in 2014. Her writing has won the 2011 Bocas Award for Caribbean Fiction, Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship and an Academy of American Poet's Prize. She has been listed by the Boston Globe as one of the sixteen cultural figures to watch out for and her writing has been published in the New York Times, Best African American Fiction, The Wall Street Journal, American Short Fiction and other places. Tiphanie is from the Virgin Islands and is a professor in the MFA program at the New School in New York City, where she is the 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, teacher and photographer Moses Djeli, and their two children.