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Transnational Series Presents: Namwali Serpell with Chris Abani

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Namwali Serpell discusses her new book 'Stranger Faces' with writer Chris Abani.

About this Event

Join the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith for a conversation with Namwali Serpell and Chris Abani. They'll be discussing Namwali Serpell's Stranger Faces.

If evolutionary biologists, ethical philosophers, and social media gurus are to be believed, the face is the basis for what we call "humanity." The face is considered the source of identity, truth, beauty, authenticity, and empathy. It underlies our ideas about what constitutes a human, how we relate emotionally, what is pleasing to the eye, and how we ought to treat each other. But all of this rests on a specific image of the face. We might call it the ideal face.

What about the strange face, the stranger's face, the face that thwarts recognition? What do we make of the face that rides the line of legibility? In a collection of speculative essays on a few such stranger faces—the disabled face, the racially ambiguous face, the digital face, the face of the dead—Namwali Serpell probes our contemporary mythology of the face. Stranger Faces imagines a new ethics based on the perverse pleasures we take in the very mutability of faces.

Namwali Serpell is a Zambian writer and Professor of English at Harvard University. She’s a recipient of a 2020 Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction and the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her first novel, The Old Drift (Hogarth, 2019), won the 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book prize for fiction and the 2020 L.A. Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2019.

Chris Abani is an acclaimed novelist and poet. His most recent books are The Secret History of Las Vegas, The Face: A Memoir and Sanctificum. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Hemingway Award, An Edgar Prize, A Ford USA Artists Fellowship, the PEN Beyond the Margins Award, a Prince Claus Award, the Hurston Wright Legacy Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship, among many honors. Born in Nigeria, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Board of Trustees Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago. More at www.chrisabani.com.

About the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith

The Transnational Series focuses on stories of migration, the intersection of politics & literature, and works in translation and is supported by the independent bookstore Brookline Booksmith. Subscribe to the Transnational Series newsletter for information on upcoming events, book recommendations, and more.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO ATTEND

This virtual event is free to attend. To support the independent bookstore and independent publisher who organized this event, please consider purchasing Stranger Faces from Brookline Booksmith.

About Donations

We are pleased to make this event free for entry, but you may notice you have the option to donate. By donating, you help Brookline Booksmith build toward a stronger today and a post-pandemic future. Every dollar of support means the world to us. Thank you for your continued support!

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