Literary star Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and acclaimed author of The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner didn’t shy away from taking on big issues – inequality, racism and a faulty justice system – in their fearless bestselling books: Friday Black and The Mars Room. They join the National Book Foundation’s Lisa Lucas to discuss the influence and scope of storytelling and how fiction can be used to connect readers to real-world issues.
Supported by the University of Sydney.
Rachel Kushner (International)
Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. Her follow-up novel, The Flamethrowers, was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest novel, The Mars Room, was a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (International)
According to the New York Times, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s bestselling debut Friday Black is “a powerful and important and strange and beautiful collection of stories meant to be read right now... an unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice... Adjei-Brenyah, with his own “maroon of life,” is here to signal a warning, or perhaps just to say this is what it feels like, in stories that move and breathe and explode on the page.” Nana is from Spring Valley, New York, and graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University. He was the 2016-2017 Olive B. O'Connor Fellow in Fiction at Colgate University. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Guernica, Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing, Printer’s Row, Gravel, and The Breakwater Review, where he was selected by ZZ Packer as the winner of the 2nd Annual Breakwater Review Fiction Contest.
Lisa Lucas (International)
Lisa Lucas is the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards and a non-profit organisation devoted to celebrating the best literature in America, expanding its audience, and ensuring that books have a prominent place in American culture. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2016, she served as the Publisher of Guernica Magazine and the Director of Education at the Tribeca Film Institute. Lucas is a graduate of the University of Chicago.