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“Writers on Writing” Radio Show
October 31, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm
About the Episode
Dr. Brenda Greene interviews Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, author of My Monticello: Fiction. Greene and Johnson discuss Johnson’s motivation for writing the five short stories and novella “My Monticello,” a cautionary tale in the tradition of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The themes in these stories include, among others, race relations, white supremacy, police brutality, the immigrant experience, and environmental issues. Johnson’s opening story, “Control Negro,” recounts a Black professor’s clinical observation of his son from birth through young adulthood. The novella “My Monticello” features a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors who flee white supremacists and seek refuge in Monticello, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson. Greene and Johnson discuss those who influenced Johnson’s work, her writing process, and her view on the state of Black literature. Danielle Evans writes of My Monticello: “My Monticello is a gorgeous, devastating collection of stories spotlighting the ways a life, a country, and a planet can tend toward disaster but still be worth fighting for.”
About the Guest
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is the author of the critically acclaimed My Monticello, a fiction debut that was called “electrifying” by Colson Whitehead and “a masterly feat” by The New York Times. A fellow of Tin House, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Johnson’s writing has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Kweli Journal, and elsewhere. Her short story “Control Negro” was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2018, guest edited by Roxane Gay, who described it as, “one hell of a story” and read live by LeVar Burton for PRI’s Selected Shorts. A veteran public school art teacher, Johnson lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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