The Common and Guernica Magazine

Tuesday April 22, 2014
07:00 pm

Tags: Event









Have you ever read a novel and felt as though the author was speaking directly to you? Or about you? Guernica and The Common contributors came together to read from and discuss fiction they feel was written just for them and who their own work is addressed to, if anyone.


The event featured authors Benjamin Anastas, Dina Nayeri, Kiese Laymon and is moderated by The Common Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker and Guernica Senior Fiction Editor Meakin Armstrong.



Benjamin Anastas is the author of the novels An Underachiever’s Diary, recently re-released in paperback by the Dial Press, and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance (FSG), which was a New York Times notable book. His memoir Too Good to Be True was published in October of 2012 by New Harvest/HMH. Other work has appeared in The Paris ReviewHarper’sThe New York Times MagazineBookforumThe Yale Review and The Best American Essays 2012. He teaches literature at Bennington College and is also on the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars.


Photo credit: Henri Blommers

Dina Nayeri was born in the middle of a revolution in Iran and moved to Oklahoma at ten-years-old. Her debut novel, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, was released in 2013 by Riverhead Books (Penguin) and translated to 14 foreign languages. Her work is published in over 20 countries and has been recognized by Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers, Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Granta New Voices, and The Center for Fiction (Flaherty-Dunnan prize long list)Her stories and essays have also appeared in Marie Claire, Glamour, Salon, Guernica, The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She holds an MBA and a Master of Education, both from Harvard, and a BA from Princeton. She has worked in high fashion, management consulting, university admissions, investment banking, and once as a grumpy lifeguard. Now, having completed her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and Teaching Writing Fellow, Dina is at work on her second novel (also about an Iranian family). She lives in New York.
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon is a contributing editor at He has written essays and stories for numerous publications including Esquire,, NPR, Guernica, Best American Series, Gawker,, Longman’s Hip Hop Reader, Mythium and Politics and Culture. Laymon is currently an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Photo credit: Paul Franz

Jennifer Acker is Editor in Chief of The Common. She has an MFA in fiction and literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her short stories have been published in literary journals such as n+1, Guernica, Ascent, and Sonora Review; translations and essays have appeared in Harper’sPloughshares, The Millions, The New Inquiry, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Acker teaches literature, creative writing, and editing at Amherst College and NYU Abu Dhabi.


Check out the last time Acker was at the Center here