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Friday, April 3 • 3:30pm - 4:45pm
4A: Realism with a Twist: Bending the Truth to Get Closer to It FILLING

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Franz Kafka transformed his unhappy Samsa into an insect. Colson Whitehead brought Cora from slavery on an actual underground train. Mohsin Hamid sent his refugees through a door to a different life. All of these books tweak the boundaries of realism. They tell of worlds that look much like our own – no dystopian futures or imagined planets – but some element is made strange. And as a result, we can see our troubled world more clearly.

When we’re writing about frightening political, social, and climate situations, realism can’t always adequately describe the real world. In this session, through lectures and exercises, we’ll explore adding magic and metaphor to the realist novel. We’ll look at work by Zadie Smith, Ruth Ozeki, Valeria Luisella and others as we talk about ways to wake up our readers. How can we defamiliarize difficult truths that we often try to ignore? What can we learn from allegories and fairy tales? How can we, as writers, pay attention differently in order to know the world better?

avatar for Heather Abel

Heather Abel

Heather Abel’s debut novel, The Optimistic Decade was an Indie Next pick, a Massachusetts Center of the Book 2018 "Must Read" and received praise from the New York Times, People Magazine, New York Magazine, and the Seattle Times, among many other places. Her essays have appeared... Read More →

Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor