Author Kiley Reid had a virtual visit with Anne Gerbner’s and Meg Cohen Ragas’ First Fiction Essentially English elective.
Anne Gerbner’s and Meg Cohen Ragas’ First Fiction Essentially English elective had an eventful end to their six-week course: New York Times bestselling author Kiley Reid Zoomed in to talk to about writing her literary debut, Such a Fun Age, one of the books the students read for the class.
Reid shared her love for awkward moments (“there’s something very interesting in the choreography of an awkward moment”) and the magic storytelling number of three, both of which figure prominently in her novel, which was longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. She discussed her fascination with memory (”how it operates in real life and on the page”) and her secret to writing good dialogue (“interview people; listening to people is a talent … make sure your dialogue is ‘moving’”). She emphasized that research is crucial to writing good fiction. Students from Adam Hotek’s “The Souls of Black Folk: A Survey of African-American Literature,” June Gondi’s “Let’s Talk: How to Write Dialogue That Crackles and Pops,” Gerbner’s “Story Studio,” and Gerbner’s and Ragas’ “Journalism: Ethics and Activism” classes tuned in for the book talk as well, as did several faculty members and GFS parents enrolled in the courses.
Reid, who earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and now lives in Philadelphia and teaches writing workshops on race and class at Temple University, was warm, thoughtful, and engaging as she discussed the themes of race and privilege at the heart of her critically-acclaimed novel. “I often get asked, Are you writing for black audiences or are you writing for white audiences?” she shared. “I feel like, if there was anyone I wanted to answer to and make this world really come alive to, it’s domestic care workers.”
“I will say that my dream reader loves a little bit of plot with an obsession with human behavior,” she added.