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Ayana Mathis on The Unsettled with Kiese Laymon

September 26, 2023

The Center for Fiction welcomed Ayana Mathis (The Twelve Tribes of Hattie) to our stage in celebration of her highly anticipated second novel, The Unsettled. This searing novel is set in the racially and politically turbulent Philadelphia of the 1980s, as well as in the tiny town of Bonaparte, Alabama, and follows a mother fighting for her sanity and survival amidst a growing revolutionary moment. Author Kiese Laymon (Long Division) joined Mathis for a rich conversation about the historical roots of the novel and their relevance today, as well as the art of crafting this powerful tale of motherhood, revolution, and endurance.

In conversation

  • Ayana Mathis by Beowulf Sheehan

    Ayana Mathis

    Ayana Mathis

    Ayana Mathis’s first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was a New York Times best-seller, an NPR Best Book of 2013, the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. and has been translated into sixteen languages. Her nonfiction has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Guernica, and Rolling Stone. Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was born in Philadelphia and currently lives in New York City where she teaches writing in Hunter College’s MFA Program.

    Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

  • Kiese Laymon, Writer, 2022 MacArthur Fellow, Houston, TX

    Kiese Laymon

    Kiese Laymon

    Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of the award-winning memoir Heavy, the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the novel Long Division.