Thursday

October 13

12 PM

Rajika Bhandari’s memoir, America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility, explores the travails of international students in the U.S., the web of immigration they must navigate, and Bhandari’s journey as a woman of color and Asian American immigrant. While Bhandari’s personal story is one of leaving India to become educated in America, it reflects millions of students as it asks the question whether, “preventing the world’s best and brightest from seeking the American Dream will put this country’s future in jeopardy.” Sponsored by Women & Gender Studies and African & African American Studies.

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

1:30 PM

Katharine Schellman’s Last Call at the Nightingale is a darkly glamorous Jazz Age mystery dripping with illegal liquor, wild music, murder, and some dangerous attention from New York City’s underground and the super wealthy. Allison Montclair says, “Complete with speakeasies, mobsters, and an unflappable flapper as its heroine, this is a book that should be savored with a glass of bootleg gin in one hand and a 78 of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five on the gramophone.”

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

In A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America, Sofia Ali-Khan blends history and memoir, digging up the histories of white supremacy and forced migration that is deeply ingrained in American culture. While illustrating the twelve towns that helped shape her life, she provides an intimate perspective on the modern racialization of American Muslims and questions if the American dream had ever applied to families like her own. Sponsored by AbuSulayman Center for Global Islamic Studies.

Location: Johnson Center, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room C. 4477 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax.

3 PM

In his experimental memoir, Dear Queer Self, Jonathan Alexander pens letters to his younger self as he struggles through major personal milestones like experimentation, marrying a woman, and coming out, as well as international crises like the AIDS epidemic. Author Alex Espinoza calls the book a “striking account of the ways we draw strength from tragedy and learn to face our past transgressions with equal parts humor and resilience.” Sponsored by Mason Rhetoric Society of America Graduate Chapter & the PhD in Writing and Rhetoric.

Location: Johnson Center, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room C. 4477 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax.

Memoirist Elisheba Haqq and poet Susan Nguyen wrestle with grief, loss, and the façade of the ‘perfect immigrant,’ in their powerful books. In Mamaji: A Memoir, Haqq grapples with the loss of her mother, the battle with her stepmother, and her less-than-perfect life for her Indian immigrant family in a small Minnesota town. In Dear Diaspora, Nguyen explores inherited trauma and the intersections of identity and selfhood against the backdrop of the Vietnamese diaspora. 

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

In Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo’s Hidden History, Kristina R. Gaddy explores the powerful intersection of Black spirituality, slavery, ritual, and rebellion. From the 17th century to the jazz and bluegrass we know today – she traces the evolution of the banjo in a story unlike any other. Director Marc Fields says Gaddy “re-centers the banjo as a Black instrument and as an icon of the African diaspora.”

Location: Johnson Center, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room B. 4477 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax.

4 PM

 In 1997, David Tenenbaum was accused of being an Israeli spy, and was subjected to a full criminal FBI investigation that turned his life upside down. In Accused of Treason: The US Army’s Witch Hunt for a Jewish Spy, Tenenbaum chronicals the Army’s ruthless anti-semitic tactics. A former Defense Department Senior Executive calls it, an essential read for Americans concerned about corruption within the Security state underlying all institutions of American governance.” Sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 

Off-campus Location: Tallwood House, 4200 Roberts Road, Fairfax. Or register to watch via Zoom. 

4:30 PM

Marco Wilkinson uses the physicality and metaphor of undervalued plants to explore his obscured family history, and his sense of self in Madder: A Memoir in Weeds. Essayist Lia Purpura says, “In the lush ecotone between poetry and prose, Marco Wilkinson, horticulturalist and caretaker of all things underseen, has propagated an extraordinary space where ‘the lost are found, one way or another, and cradled.’”

Location: Wilkins Plaza Tent, between the Johnson Center and Horizon Hall

Two writers from Madrid, Elena Medel, author of The Little Princess and The Wonders joins poet María Teresa León, author of Cincuenta días y quinientas noches-Diario de una reina con corona for a Spanish-language conversation about literature, language, and poetry. Medel was the first woman to ever win the Francisco Umbral Prize for her debut novel, The Wonders. León’s poetry collection explores the loneliness and pain of confinement in Madrid during COVID. It has received honorable mentions in the 2022 International Latino Book Awards in four categories: Best First Book, Best Latina Themed Book, Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award, and Best Poetry Anthology Book. Sponsored by the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center.  

Location: Johnson Center, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room C. 4477 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax.

6 PM

Magic, colonialism, and questions of identity intersect in Okezie Nwọka’s novel God of Mercy set in an Igbo village in Africa. Booklist says, “Nwoka’s debut feels like a dream, or a fable, or something in between.” Nwọka will be in conversation with novelist Alexia Arthurs. Sponsored by Mason Creative Writing. 

Location: Fenwick Reading Room, 2nd Floor, Fenwick Library, 4348 Chesapeake River Lane, Fairfax

From the threats of climate change to California and the globe, to overflowing pandemic morgues, to the frontlines of the refugee crisis, urgent themes permeate the poetry collections The King’s Touch by Tom Sleigh, and Look at this Blue by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. In discussing The King’s Touch, Ploughshares’ Philip Levine says, “I am struck by the human dramas that are enacted in these poems, the deep encounters that often shatter the participants and occasionally restore them.” Craig Santos Perez calls Hedge Coke “one of the most important and innovative environmental writers of our time. Look at This Blue urgently asks us to see the wondrous biodiversity of the planet amidst the violent ravages of colonialism, capitalism, and ecological imperialism.”

Location: Johnson Center, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room C. 4477 Aquia Creek Lane, Fairfax.

7:30 PM

Enjoy the three powerhouse finalists – and celebrate the winner – of the Fifth Annual New American Voices Award for immigrant writers: Sindya Bhanoo, author of the story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, Daphne Palasi Andreades, author of the novel Brown Girls, and Aamina Ahmad, author of the novel The Return of Faraz Ali. They will be joined by this year’s judges: Christopher Castellani, Huan Hsu, and Patricia Engel, who won the 2021 award for her novel Infinite Country. The New American Voices Award was created in 2018 by Fall for the Book and the Institute for Immigration Research to recognize recently published works that illuminate the complexity of the human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing. Sponsored by the Institute for Immigration Research.

Click here to reserve your free ticket on Eventbrite starting October 5. 

Location: Grand Tier III, Center for the Arts, 4373 Mason Pond Drive, Fairfax

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