F158. You Want It Darker: The Care and Feeding of Darker Narratives

D131-132, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Friday, March 29, 2019
10:30 am to 11:45 am


Writers are "supposed" to write likeable characters with narrative arcs that bend toward, if not justice, at least redemption. But what if things instead bend sinister, descend into the dark, and possibly stay there? How does one write narratives that engage with the calamitous, the violent, the pessimistic, the tragic, while avoiding the gratuitous? Five fiction writers discuss narrative techniques gleaned from some of their favorite narratives where the authors grapple with the dark.



C.J. Hribal is the author of two novels and two short fiction collections, including The Company Car and The Clouds in Memphis, which won the AWP Award for Short Fiction. An NEA and Guggenheim Fellow, he teaches at Marquette University and for the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

Vu Tran is the author of the novel Dragonfish. He has received a Whiting Award and an NEA Fellowship, and his fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories and the Best American Mysteries. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago.

Nami Mun is the author of Miles from Nowhere and winner of a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award. Her work can be seen in The New York Times, Granta, Tin House, and Tales of Two Americas. A former professor, she teaches at The Writers Room in Chicago.

Goldie Goldbloom’s first novel, The Paperbark Shoe, won the AWP Novel Award. Her short fiction has been published in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and Narrative. She teaches at Northwestern and the University of Chicago and is the recipient of NEA and Dora Maar fellowships. She is an LGBT activist.

Dean Bakopoulos is the author of the novels Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, My American Unhappiness, and Summerlong. The recipient of a Guggenheim and two NEA fellowships, he teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and is writer-in-residence at Grinnell College.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center