Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT September 7, 2022
The Center for Fiction
In-person tickets include a $10 bookstore voucher, redeemable toward the featured event books on the night of the event. All registrants will receive a link to livestream the event.
The Center for Fiction is thrilled to welcome Sidik Fofana, David Means, and Rebecca Miller to our stage in celebration of their accomplished new short story collections. From eight interconnected narratives centered around neighbors in the same Harlem apartment complex to intense speculative visions of the future, these collections show some of the wildly diverse possibilities of the exciting and multifaceted world of the contemporary short story. Stories from the Tenants Downstairs is the publishing debut from The Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellowship alum Sidik Fofana; Two Nurses, Smoking is David Means’s fifth collection; and Total is filmmaker, director, and novelist Rebecca Miller’s second collection. Dive in with us to hear about their thoughts on craft, form, process, and publication. Author Idra Novey will moderate the conversation.
Sidik Fofana earned an MFA from New York University and was an Emerging Writer Fellow at The Center for Fiction. He lives with his wife and son in New York City where he is a public school teacher.
Photo Credit: Roque Nonini
David Means was born and raised in Michigan. He is the author of five short-story collections, including Instructions for a Funeral, The Spot (a New York Times notable book of the year), Assorted Fire Events (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction), and The Secret Goldfish, and the novel Hystopia (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize). His stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s magazine, The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and other publications. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013, Means lives in Nyack, New York, and teaches at Vassar College.
Photo Credit: Chris Carroll
Rebecca Miller is the author of the short-story collection Personal Velocity, her feature-film adaptation of which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (FSG, 2008), which she also adapted for the screen; and, most recently, Jacob’s Folly (FSG, 2013). Her other films include Angela, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, and Maggie’s Plan. She lives in New York and Ireland with her family.
Photo Credit: Leo Veira
Idra Novey is the award-winning author of the novels Ways to Disappear and Those Who Knew. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages and she’s written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She teaches fiction at Princeton University and in the MFA Program at New York University. Her new novel, Take What You Need, is forthcoming from Viking in 2023.
Photo Credit: Jesse Ditmar
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
By Sidik Fofana
Published by Scribner
Like Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place and Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Sidik Fofana’s electrifying collection of eight interconnected stories showcases the strengths, struggles, and hopes of one residential community in a powerful storytelling experience.
Each short story follows a tenant in the Banneker Homes, a low-income high rise in Harlem where gentrification weighs on everyone’s mind. There is Swan in apartment 6B, whose excitement about his friend’s release from prison jeopardizes the life he’s been trying to lead. Mimi, in apartment 14D, who hustles to raise the child she had with Swan, waitressing at Roscoe’s and doing hair on the side. And Quanneisha B. Miles, a former gymnast with a good education who wishes she could leave Banneker for good, but can’t seem to escape the building’s gravitational pull. We root for these characters and more as they weave in and out of each other’s lives, endeavoring to escape from their pasts and blaze new paths forward for themselves and the people they love.
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs brilliantly captures the joy and pain of the human experience and heralds the arrival of a uniquely talented writer.
Two Nurses, Smoking
By David Means
Published by Macmillan
Two nurses meet in the hospital parking lot to share a cigarette. They flirt and imagine a future together. They tell stories of patients lost and patients saved, of the darkest corners of human suffering and the luminous moments that break through, even here, in the shadow of death.
In David Means’s virtuosic new collection, time unfolds in unexpected ways: a single, quiet moment swells with the echoes of a widower’s complicated marriage; a dachshund, given a new name and a new life by a new owner, catches the scent of the troubled man who previously abandoned her; young lovers become old; estranged couples return to their vows; and those who have died live on in perpetuity in the memories of those whom they touched.
The stories in this collection—winners of the O. Henry Prize and the Pushcart Prize, and selected for The Best American Short Stories in 2021—confirm the promise of a writer who extends “the profound empathy of his attention to those who need it most” (Justin Taylor, the New York Times Book Review). A revelatory meditation on trauma and catharsis, isolation and communion, Two Nurses, Smoking reflects the dislocations and anguish of our age, as well as the humanity and humor that buoy us..
By Rebecca Miller
Published by Macmillan
From Dublin to Martha’s Vineyard, from the anxious comforts of motherhood to a technologically infected near future that mirrors today with dark prescience, each of the seven stories in Total is a world of its own, painted with vivid strokes, whose people and questions stay with the reader long after the story has ended. Joad, one of the first characters we meet, finds onionskin pages crammed in a locked desk drawer while refurbishing a Hudson Valley farmhouse; the terrifying words on the fragile paper haunt Joad and her husband, the woman who wrote them looming over the couple like a malevolent spirit. Her words embody the power of the act of creation and the insidious, untamable force of language once it has left one’s pen.
The author of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Jacob’s Folly, as well as an award-winning filmmaker, Miller has “the soaring eye of the epicist and the sly instinct of the satirist” (the New Yorker), and her talents are on full display in Total. Each voice and life captured in these haunting stories is unforgettable.
BYOBook: A Quiet Happy Hour for Readers
Monday, 5:00 pm EDT - 7:00 pm EDT October 3, 2022
Crime/Scene: Ousmane K. Power-Greene on The Confessions of Matthew Strong with Elizabeth Nunez
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT October 11, 2022
The Center for Fiction and Jewish Book Council Present: Moriel Rothman-Zecher on Before All the World with Jason Diamond
Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT October 12, 2022
A Final Reading with the 2021-2022 Emerging Writer Fellows
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT October 13, 2022
Booking for Love: LGBTQ+ Edition
Friday, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT October 14, 2022
Past, Present, and Future: Barbara Kingsolver on Demon Copperhead and Silas House on Lark Ascending
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT October 18, 2022
The Craft of Fiction: Can Creative Writing Be Taught? Bonnie Chau, Porochista Khakpour, Jee Leong Koh, and Dale Peck Attempt to Answer the Age-Old Question
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT October 20, 2022
Booking for Love: A Literary Speed Dating Event
Friday, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT October 21, 2022
The Center for Fiction Presents: Ross Gay on Inciting Joy with Simone White
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT October 25, 2022
In Translation: Jacob Rogers on The Last Days of Terranova with Eric Banks (Canceled)
Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT October 26, 2022
The Center for Fiction Presents: Igiaba Scego on The Color Line
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT November 1, 2022
On Reading: Katherine Dunn's Posthumously Released Novel, Toad
Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT November 2, 2022
A Panel on the Politics of Translation with YZ Chin, Madhu Kaza, Emma Ramadan, and David Unger
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT November 3, 2022
The Center for Fiction Presents: Zein El-Amine and Hala Alyan on Love and War
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT November 8, 2022
The Art of the Short Story: Bojan Louis on Sinking Bell
Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT November 9, 2022
The Art of the Short Story: Toni Ann Johnson on Light Skin Gone to Waste with Nina Lorez Collins
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT November 10, 2022
Brigitta Olubus on Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life with Sheridan Hay
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT November 15, 2022
The Art of the Short Story: Andrea Barrett on Natural History
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT November 17, 2022