Presented by Before Columbus Foundation

Council Chambers: 11:00am—12:30pm

Laying hold of the crucible of slavery and genocide in which the New World was formed, 21st century American writers respond with sensuous, supple, and frequently paradoxical narratives of racial identity. On this panel, three of today’s most innovative and exciting writers bring their work and experience to bear on questions of color, literature, and the American voice.

JOHN R. KEENE joined the Dark Room Writers Collective in 1989 and is a Graduate Fellow of the Cave Canem Writers Workshops. He is the author of Annotations and Counternarratives, as well as the poetry collection Seismosis (with artist Christopher Stackhouse), and translator of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst's novel Letters from a Seducer. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark.

VICTOR LAVALLE is author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, three novels (The Ecstatic, Big Machine, and The Devil in Silver), and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He has received a Whiting Writers' Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shirley Jackson Award, an American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens.

EMILY RABOTEAU is author of the novel The Professor’s Daughter and a work of creative nonfiction, Searching for Zion, named a best book of 2013 by The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle and winner of a 2014 American Book Award. Her fiction and essays have been published and anthologized in Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Guardian, Guernica, VQR, The Believer, and elsewhere. Honors include a Pushcart Prize, The Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony.

JUSTIN DESMANGLES (moderator) is Chairman of the board of directors of the Before Columbus Foundation. He is the creator of the critically acclaimed radio program, New Day Jazz, now in its 15th year. His poetry and journalism have appeared in Amerarcana, Black Renaissance Noire (NYU), Drumvoices Revue (SIUE), and Konch. His most recent publications are Passion Provocation & Prophecy, with Jack Hirschman, and Black Hollywood Unchained, edited by Ishmael Reed.