#AWP18 Event Organizer Q&A with Sofia Samatar

AWP | January 2018

Event Title: Monster Cultures
Description: From cyborgs to serial killers, monsters work the territory where explosive opposites meet: fear and desire, criminality and victimhood. On this panel, five writers of the fantastic discuss the roles of monsters in their work and areas of interest. How do monsters function in contemporary literature, in environmental writing, in Afrofuturism? What concerns and breakthroughs come with using the monstrous to express marginalized racial and sexual identities? How do we write the ultimate Other?
Participants: Sofia Samatar, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, Nancy Hightower
Location: Ballroom D, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Date & Time: Saturday, March 10, 1:30 p.m.–2:45 p.m.


Q: What new understanding or knowledge will attendees walk away from your event with?
A: They'll be filled with energy, fascinated by the extraordinarily complex matrix of ideas we call "the monstrous." They'll want to go where the wild things are.

Q: What makes your event relevant and important in 2018?
A: It's fair to say that right now American politics are monstrous. We want to discuss, among other things, what's at stake in that notion. A monster can be the enemy who threatens you, but also the imaginary friend who comforts you, the outcast who needs you, or even your outcast self. We want to get into that shifting kaleidoscope.

Q: What are some of the conference events (besides your own) or Bookfair exhibitors you look forward to seeing?
A: I'm looking forward to seeing my fellow panelist, Carmen Maria Machado, in conversation with Lesley Nneka Arimah and Richard Russo. I want to go to the panel on "Faith, Fervor, and Fundamentalism"—I'm really interested in writing and religion. The panel on "Writing the Frail Essay," with Amina Cain and other great writers, looks amazing, and of course, as a science fiction writer, I'll be at "Women Write the Future." In the book room, I'll be hanging out with my friends at Small Beer Press and Rose Metal Press. And I'll spend some time at the Nightboat table—I always get something there.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: Charlie Fox’s This Young Monster, Samiya Bashir’s Field Theories, Kate Zambreno’s Book of Mutter, Bhanu Kapil’s entre-Ban, and Roland Barthes’ The Preparation of the Novel—the only book on writing I've ever loved.

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