Acts of Courage: a Literary Conversation - Roxane Gay and Okey Ndibe

Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Roxane Gay and Okey Ndibe

Roxane Gay and Okey Ndibe will discuss An Untamed State and Arrows of Rain. The conversation will be moderated by Andy Tepper.

Presented in partnership with the Independent Publishers Caucus

Virtual event

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About An Untamed State: Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have earned her an enthusiastic audience. Flavorwire has already dubbed her one of 25 Women Poised to Lead the Culture, and An Untamed State one of their 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2014. In this debut novel, she delivers a powerful, unflinching story of a Haitian American woman kidnapped for ransom, the privilege that made her a target, and the strength she must draw on to survive. Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port-au-Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As her father’s standoff with the kidnappers stretches out into days, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents. An Untamed State is a novel of wealth in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

About Roxane Gay: Roxane Gay is the author of the novel An Untamed State, which was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction; the essay collection Bad Feminist; Ayiti, a multi-genre collection; the memoir Hunger; and a comic book in Marvel’s Black Panther series. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, the New York Times, the Guardian, Bookforum, Time, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. She is a recipient of the PEN Center USA Freedom to Write Award, among other honors. She splits her time between Indiana and Los Angeles.

About Arrows of Rain: In the country of Madia (based in part on Ndibe’s native Nigeria) a young sex worker runs into the sea and drowns. The last man who spoke to her, the “madman” Bukuru, is asked to account for her last moments. When his testimony implicates the Madian armed forces, Bukuru is arrested and charged with her death. At the first day of trial, Bukuru, acting as his own attorney, counters these charges with allegations of his own, speaking not only of government complicity in a series of violent assaults and killings, but telling the court that the president of Madia himself is guilty of rape and murder. The incident is hushed up, and Bukuru is sent back to prison, where he will likely meet his end. But a young journalist manages to visit him, and together they journey through decades of history that illuminate Bukuru’s life, and that of the entire nation. A brave and powerful work of fiction, Arrows of Rain continues to resonate as a necessary morality tale and a brilliant dramatization of the complex factors behind the near-collapse of a nation from one of the most exciting novelists writing today.

About Okey Ndibe: Okey Ndibe first arrived in the US to take up appointment as the founding editor of African Commentary, a magazine published by the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. He has been a visiting professor at Brown University, Connecticut College, Simon’s Rock College, Trinity College, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). The author of Foreign Gods, Inc., Ndibe served on the editorial board of Hartford Courant where his essays won national and state awards. He earned MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He lives in West Hartford, CT, with his wife, Sheri, and their three children.

About the moderator: Andy Tepper is a writer for Vanity Fair.

Event Location: 
Virtual