Fact and Fiction: Gentrification
Thursday April 7, 2016
Gentrification is one of the most divisive issues in contemporary city life, bringing together in a single term questions of racial justice, income inequality, political privilege, and urban development. This panel, which was part of a season of events inspired by the Big Read title, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu, featured two novelists and two nonfiction writers in conversation about this hotly debated topic: Angela Flournoy, DW Gibson, Suleiman Osman, and Sunil Yapa. The panel was moderated by the Center's librarian, Jon Michaud.
About the Panelists
Angela Flournoy is the author of The Turner House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times notable book of the year. The novel was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and an NAACP Image Award. She is a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Honoree for 2015. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for The New York Times, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Flournoy received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. She has taught at the University of Iowa, The New School and Columbia University.
DW Gibson is the author of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century (winner of the 2015 Brooklyn Eagle Literary Prize) and Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today’s Changing Economy. He won a National Magazine Award for his work on “This Is the Story of One Block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn” (New York Magazine.) His work has also appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Village Voice, The Caravan, and he has been a contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered. His documentary, Not Working, a companion to the book, is available through Films Media Group. His directorial debut, Pants Down, premiered at Anthology Film Archives in New York. Gibson serves as director of Writers Omi at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, and he co-founded Sangam House, a writers’ residency in India, along with Arshia Sattar.
Suleiman Osman is an Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University and the author of The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York. He grew up in Brooklyn's Park Slope and now lives in Washington, D.C.
Sunil Yapa’s debut novel Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was published earlier this year to wide critical acclaim. Yapa holds a BA in economic geography from Penn State University, and received his MFA in Fiction from Hunter College in New York City. He is the recipient of the 2010 Asian American Short Story Award, sponsored by Hyphen Magazine and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York, and has received scholarships to The New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, The Norman Mailer Writers’ Center in Provincetown and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, The Margins, Hyphen Magazine, The Tottenville Review, Pindeldyboz: Stories that Defy Classification, and others.
Jon Michaud is the author of the novel When Tito Loved Clara, named a best book of 2011 by the Barnes & Noble Review. He was Head Librarian at The New Yorker from 2003 to 2012. Prior to that, he worked in libraries at Time Inc. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A regular contributor to The New Yorker’s Page-Turner and Culture Desk blogs, Jon also reviews books for The Washington Post. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with his wife and two sons where he is at work on a new novel.
About The Big Read
The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
El proyecto The Big Read es una iniciativa del National Endowment for the Arts (el Fondo Nacional para las Artes de Estados Unidos) en cooperación con Arts Midwest.”