This session is dedicated to the memory of author Randall Kenan. For the past several years, the BBF’s “Reading LIke a Writer” series of craft-focused author discussions have become fan favorites, giving attendees an opportunity to dig deep and gain insights into the choices that shape a writer’s craft. In this session, host Dawn Tripp will guide us through close readings of excerpts from the work of three authors whose new fiction presents a variety of narrative perspectives. In Passage West, novelist (and past One City One Story author) Rishi Reddi uses a variety of storytelling techniques, including letters, to trace the epic yet intimate story of a family of Indian sharecroppers in California’s agricultural valleys in the early twentieth century. In The Boy in the Field, Margot Livesey alternates among the perspectives of three teenaged siblings as they variously navigate the months following their discovery of a battered and bloody boy near their home. These authors will provide context for their own excerpts and will interact with one another’s work as well. Livesey was also a friend and colleague of Randall Kenan, who had been scheduled to participate in this session prior to his untimely death in late August. Livesey will offer her own appreciation of Kenan and will participate in a discussion and analysis of an excerpt from Kenan’s final collection of stories, If I Had Two Wings. Register for this session in advance on Crowdcast to access the authors’ excerpts and to add your own questions and observations to the conversation.
Reading Like a Writer: Perspective
Rishi Reddi is a widely acclaimed fiction writer. Her first book, Karma and Other Stories, won the 2008 PEN New England L.L. Winship prize for fiction. Selections from Karma and Other Stories have been featured in Best American Short Stories, broadcasted on NPR, performed at New York City’s Symphony Space, received honorable mention for the Pushcart Prize, and chosen for the Boston Book Festival’s One City One Story community read. Her debut novel Passage West is set in rural California at the onset of World War I, it and relates the story of a Punjabi family, their Mexican in-laws, and their Japanese neighbors during an era of tightening immigration laws. The Los Angeles Times claims, “Reddi is a talented writer with a gift for pacing — she knows how to employ suspense to keep readers turning pages.”
Margot Livesey is a New York Times–bestselling writer, professor, and recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and more. Livesey’s stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and many other publications. She has written ten books, including The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Learning By Heart, and Eva Moves the Furniture. Her 2020 novel, The Boy in the Field, follows the story of three siblings in the wake of a violent crime. Writer Tessa Hadley praises, “Written in elegant, spare prose, this story flies swiftly forward from the transfixing opening pages. A charming, complicated family dynamic, a twist of eerie magic.”
Dawn Tripp is an award-winning novelist and writer. Tripp’s fourth novel, Georgia, was a national bestseller, finalist for the New England Book Award, and winner of the Mary Lynn Kotz Award for Art in Literature. She is the author of three previous novels: Game of Secrets, Moon Tide, and The Season of Open Water, which won the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction. Her essays and poems have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, AGNI, Conjunctions, and NPR, among others.