Kia Corthron, the winner of The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, celebrated the launch of her highly-anticipated second novel, Moon and the Mars. Actor Niall Powderly performed a dramatic reading of excerpts from the novel followed by a conversation between Corthron and editor-in-chief of Electric Literature, Denne Michele Norris. Moon and the Mars explores New York City and America in the burgeoning moments before the Civil War through the lens of young, biracial protagonist, Theo, an orphan who lives between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers.
Co-presented with the Consulate General of Ireland, New York.
Moon and the Mars
By Kia Corthron
Published by Seven Stories Press
In Moon and the Mars, set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City in the years 1857-1863, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of Theo from childhood to adolescence, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America’s attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformationally—as the nation divides and marches to war.
As with her first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, which was praised by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Angela Y. Davis, among many others, Corthron’s use of dialogue brings her characters to life in a way that only an award-winning playwright and scriptwriter can do. As Theo grows and attends school, her language and grammar change, as does her own vocabulary when she’s with her Black or Irish families. It’s an extraordinary feat and a revelation for the reader.
Kia Corthron’s debut novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, was the winner of The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize in 2016 and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. She was the 2017 Bread Loaf Shane Stevens Fellow in the Novel. She is also a nationally and internationally produced playwright. For her body of work for the stage, she has garnered the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the Horton Foote Prize, the United States Artists Jane Addams Fellowship, the Flora Roberts Award, and others. She was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, and lives in Harlem, New York City. Moon and the Mars is her second novel.
Photo Credit: Sophie Kandaouroff
Denne Michele Norris
Denne Michele Norris
Denne Michele Norris is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature. A Black trans writer living in NYC, her writing has been supported by MacDowell, Tin House, VCCA, the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, and appears in McSweeney’s, American Short Fiction, and ZORA. She co-hosts the critically acclaimed podcast Food 4 Thot, and is hard at work on her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter and IG @thedennemichele.
Photo Credit: Hilary Leichter
Niall Powderly is an artist and actor based out of Brooklyn. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Niall grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He has worked off Broadway and regionally, and is constantly looking for new exciting projects! Thanks to Kia for looping him in on a great evening! He holds a BFA from New York University and a MFA from Yale.
Photo Credit: Jordan Matter