Kiese Laymon (Featured Writer)
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in Fall 2017. Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir. Heavy, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose and Audible’s Audiobook of the Year, was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by the The Undefeated, New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Library Journal, The Washington Post, Southern Living, Entertainment Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times Critics. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, ESPN the Magazine, Granta, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, Vanity Fair, The Best American Series, Ebony, Travel and Leisure, Paris Review, Guernica and more.
Soniah Kamal is an award-winning novelist, essayist, and public speaker. Her most recent novel, Unmarriageable: Pride & Prejudice in Pakistan, is a New York Public Library and NPR Code Switch 2019 Summer Read Pick, a Financial Times Best Book of 2019 so far, and has received praise from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Southern Living, Library Reads, Forbes, People Magazine and more. Her debut novel, An Isolated Incident, was a finalist for the Townsend Award for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about regrets and second chances. Her work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed and more. Soniah’s short story “Jelly Beans” is selected for the 2017 Best of Asian Fiction Anthology and her short story “Fossils,” judged by Claudia Rankine, won the Agnes Scott 2017 Festival Award for Fiction. Soniah is the recipient of a Susan B. Irene Award from St. Johns College where she received a B.A. in Philosophy and was a Paul Bowles Fiction Fellow at Georgia State University where she earned an MFA in Creative Writing. Soniah grew up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and England and resides in Atlanta, Georgia. www.soniahkamal.com
Caroline Crew is the author of PINK MUSEUM (Big Lucks), as well as several chapbooks. Her poetry and essays appear in The Kenyon Review, DIAGRAM, and Gulf Coast, among others. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at Georgia State University, after earning an MA at the University of Oxford and an MFA at UMass-Amherst. She’s online here: caroline-crew.com.