F237. Embracing the Unlikeable: How To Write and Teach Unsympathetic Characters

Room 101 D&E, Level 1
Friday, April 10, 2015
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Fiction rises or falls on the believability of its characters. Recently, media attention has been paid to whether those characters have to be "likeable," and what role, if any, the "unlikeable" sort should play in stories and novels. In this panel, four authors explore what this demand for likeability really means for writers of literary fiction, examine the craft of creating complex but compelling characters, and explore how to teach students confused by misleading publishing trends.



Christopher Castellani is the author of three novels, most recently All This Talk of Love. He is the artistic director of Grub Street, on the faculty of the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College and Bread Loaf, and a 2014 Guggenheim fellow. His next book is The Art of Perspective, a collection of essays.

Maud Casey is the author of The Man Who Walked Away, and two other novels; and a collection of stories, Drastic. She is the recipient of the Calvino Prize and her essays and reviews have appeared, among other places, in the New York Times, Salon, A Public Space, and the American Scholar.

Alix Ohlin is the author of four books of fiction, most recently Inside and Signs and Wonders. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best New American Voices, and on public radio's Selected Shorts.

Stacey D'Erasmo is the author of the novels TeaA Seahorse YearThe Sky Below, and Wonderland. She is also the author of The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between. She is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Seattle Convention Center