R136. How Far, Imagination: Writing Characters of Another Race in Fiction

Room 3A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 3
Thursday, February 27, 2014
10:30 am to 11:45 am


Five writers discuss the politics behind the decisions they make about writing race and their thoughts on writing beyond one’s own ethnicity. Is writing characters of another race a matter of imagination, as some writers claim, or verboten? The diverse panel of published and award-winning novelists, essayists, and short story writers will explore topics of social responsibility, appropriation, artistic integrity, and even cultural or ethnic loyalties around the process and research of doing so.



Christine Lee Zilka is the fiction editor at Kartika Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals and anthologies such as ZYZZYVA, Guernica, Hyphen, and Men Undressed. Awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, she earned her MFA from Mills College.

Mat Johnson is the author of the novel Pym, the graphic novel Incognegro, and several other books. He is a recipient of the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Dos Passos Prize. He teaches at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

Patricia Engel is the author of It's Not Love, It's Just Paris and Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and Young Lions Fiction Awards and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her stories have appeared in A Public Space, the Atlantic, Boston Review, Guernica, and Harvard Review.

Randa Jarrar is the author of the critically acclaimed novel A Map of Home. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Five Chapters, Guernica, the Oxford American, The New York Times magazine, the Utne Reader, Salon.com, and the Progressive. She is assistant professor at Fresno State's MFA program.

Susan Kiyo Ito co-edited the anthology A Ghost At Heart's Edge: Stories and Poems of Adoption and her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She has been a columnist and editor for the online journal Literary Mama. She is a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Washington State Convention Center