Elizabeth Nunez’s new novel, Now Lila Knows, is urgent, timely, and necessary. The novel follows newly hired professor Lila Bonnard, who witnesses a fatal shooting of a Black man by the police on her way from the Caribbean to her new teaching appointment at Mayfield college. When it is revealed that the man was also a professor at Mayfield, Lila is expected to be a witness in the case. Caught between the expectations of the other Black faculty at Mayfield and her own fear of losing her job due to the hostile political climate against immigrants, she is forced to face the question of what to do when one is confronted with the harsh consequences of injustice.
Co-presented by the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival, American Book Award Winner and PEN-awardee Elizabeth Nunez joined educator Crystal Bobb-Semple for a discussion which tackled these questions, all while shining a light on this critically important novel. Nunez is a force to be reckoned with; an essential, generation-defining voice for the Caribbean diaspora.
Now Lila Knows
By Elizabeth Nunez
Published by Akashic
Lila Bonnard has left her island home in the Caribbean to join the faculty as a visiting professor at Mayfield College in a small Vermont town. On her way from the airport to Mayfield, Lila witnesses the fatal shooting of a Black man by the police. It turns out that the victim was a professor at Mayfield, and was giving CPR to a white woman who was on the verge of an opioid overdose.
The two Black faculty and a Black administrator in the otherwise all-white college expect Lila to be a witness in the case against the police. Unfortunately, Lila fears that in the current hostile political climate against immigrants of color she may jeopardize her position at the college by speaking out, and her fiancé advises her to remain neutral.
Now Lila Knows is a gripping story that explores our obligation to act when confronted with the unfair treatment of fellow human beings. A page-turner with universal resonance, this novel will leave readers rethinking the meaning of love and empathy.
Elizabeth Nunez is the award-winning author of a memoir and ten novels, four of them selected as New York Times Editors’ Choices. Anna In-Between won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for an IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award. Nunez also received the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction for Not for Everyday Use; an American Book Award; and a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad and Tobago National Library. She is a cofounder of the National Black Writers Conference and executive producer of the CUNY-TV series Black Writers in America. Nunez is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, where she teaches fiction writing. She divides her time between Amityville and Brooklyn, New York.
Crystal Bobb-Semple is the Founder and CEO of Plato Learning, a literacy-based summer camp company with locations nationwide. Her programs use cultural mythologies to build reading interest and skills for more than 8,000 kids each year. From 2000-2010 she was the Owner and Operator of Brownstone Books, an independent bookstore in Bedford-Stuyvesant known for revitalizing and embracing the literacy scene in Brooklyn. Crystal has served on the board of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and is Trustee at The Saint Ann’s School. A graduate of Hampton University, she also holds an M.P.A. from the University of Delaware and a Doctorate in Education and Organization Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.