Fiction That Matters: The Story of Social Engagement
Wednesday April 12, 2017
How does fiction successfully explore and represent social history? What is the future of fiction’s role in such endeavors? Exploring these questions and many more will be Edie Meidav (Kingdom of the Young, Lola, California) Dana Johnson (In the Not Quite Dark,) and Sunil Yapa (Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist).
Called an "American original" by The Daily Beast, Edie Meidav is the author of Kingdom of the Young, coming out in April with Sarabande, as well as The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon, Crawl Space, and Lola, California. Recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, a Howard Fellowship, the Kafka Prize for Best Fiction by an American woman, the Bard Fiction Prize and other citations, she teaches in the UMass Amherst MFA program.
Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark, published by Counterpoint in August 2016. She is also the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Callaloo, The Iowa Review and Huizache, among others, and anthologized in Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest, Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, and California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.
Sunil Yapa’s first novel Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is a Time Magazine Best Books of the Year, so far, and an Amazon Best Books of the year, so far, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, and an Indies Next Pick. The New Yorker writes, “Fast-paced and unflinching…Yapa vividly evokes rage and compassion.” The Seattle Times writes, “Yapa’s melding of fact and fiction, human frailty and geopolitics, is a genuine tour-de-force.” The winner of the 2010 Asian American short story award, Yapa’s work has appeared in Guernica, American Short Fiction, The Margins, Hyphen, LitHub and others. The biracial son of a Sri Lankan father and a mother from Montana, Yapa has lived around the world, including The Netherlands, Thailand, Greece, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, China, and India, as well as, London, Montreal, and New York City.
Sunil Yapa holds a BA in economic geography from Penn State University, and received his MFA in Fiction from Hunter College in New York City in 2010, where he worked with two-time Booker Prize winning author Peter Carey, and the 2009 National Book Award winner (Let the Great World Spin) Colum McCann. While at Hunter Sunil was also awarded the Alumni Scholarship & Welfare Fund Fellowship, which is given to one fiction student every three years, and was twice selected as a Hertog Fellow, working as a research assistant for Zadie Smith (Changing My Mind), as well as Ben Marcus (The Flame Alphabet).
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.