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Serena Simpson in Ninth Letter

by in News


We’re thrilled to announce that Serena Simpson’s essay “On Choosing,” winner of the 2020 DISQUIET Prize for Nonfiction, has been published in Ninth Letter. You can read it online here.

From the introductory statement by editor Philip Graham: “[A]s Simpson examines personal decisions both private and public, she homes in on the small print of her experience, insisting on her individual interior self and not allowing it to be subsumed into a larger, perhaps discordant narrative. This is a very brave essay, one where declaration, accusation and confession wind around each other.  It is truth-telling that goes deep.”

Don’t miss it!


Tayari Jones

by in News


Tayari Jones “holds the reader from first page to last, with her compassionate observation, her clear-eyed insight and her beautifully written and complex characters” (Amy Bloom). The author of four novels and a professor at Emory and Cornell, Jones’ most recent novel, the bestselling An American Marriage, received the prestigious 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction and an NAACP Image Award. It was an Oprah’s Book Club pick and appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list.

A novelist of the highest order, she is also a great literary advocate for the work of others, see most recently her introductions to classic reissues of Ann Petry’s The Street and Delores Phillips’ The Darkest Child. Her NYT review of Stacey Abrams’ new memoir, which we recently posted, and this article, on voting conditions in Georgia evidence her savvy in political analysis as well.

You can read her interview with the Paris Review or this recent profile in Vogue, or this excerpt from An American Marriage.

Jones taught at DISQUIET in 2013 and was scheduled to return as our guest writer in 2020. We hope she’ll be able to join us for our postponed tenth-edition program in 2021.

an american marriage
Buy An American Marriage here or anywhere books are sold.

Gabriel Bump

by in Faculty Spotlight


“I wanted to represent the spectacular average,” writes Gabriel Bump about his debut novel Everywhere You Don’t Belong, “the sometimes plain and sometimes harrowing journeys of all of us in the middle.”

Everywhere You Don’t Belong (Algonquin 2020) was hailed by Tommy Orange as “A comically dark coming-of-age story about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, but it’s also social commentary at its finest, woven seamlessly into the work . . . Bump’s meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are, is handled so beautifully that you don’t know he’s hypnotized you until he’s done.” Bump currently lives and teaches in Buffalo, New York.

Read his latest short story in the Brooklyn Rail or his essay on book touring in the early days of the coronavirus.


600 everywhere you dont

A Disquiet alum who returned as a staff member and who we were thrilled to be able to bring back as faculty to lead a fiction workshop in 2020, we hope he’ll be able to make it back to Lisbon for 2021.

You can order Everywhere You Don’t Belong here or anywhere books are sold.


by in Faculty Spotlight

ondjaki on the floor

“The Portuguese language in Angola, whether used by a citizen in daily life, by a child, by a woman who sells things in the street, by a sea-shell seller, a politician or a writer, is a singular instrument of self-expression and creation. It’s even each person’s private theatre,” says Ondjaki (the pen name of Ndalu de Almeida).

One of the most important Angolan writers of the post-independence period, Ondjaki has written novels for adults and children as well as poetry and screenplays. His novel Transparent City, a work “of radiant beauty and heart” (Bongani Kona) and “a contemporary masterpiece” (Trevor Corkum) won the prestigious Jose Saramago Prize in 2013 and the English translation was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2018.


transparent city cover


You can read an interview between Ondjaki and his English translator Stephen Henighan, check out an excerpt from his novel Good Morning, Comrades! at Words Without Borders, or buy the English translation of Transparent City here.

Ondjaki was scheduled to speak at Disquiet 2020 and we hope that he’ll be able to join us in 2021.


Shayla Lawson

by in News, Faculty Spotlight



Shayla Lawson “writes like you’re having a conversation with your smartest, wisest, funniest friend and you don’t want it to end.” (R. Eric Thomas). Her new book of essays, This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope, comes out today from Harper Perennial, available here and everywhere.

The author of three books of poetry, most recently I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean, and a professor at Amherst College, Lawson’s other projects include curating The Tenderness Project with Ross Gay and performing with her band The Oceanographers.

Hear her poem “Pantone 427 U“, read “Forrest Gump“, or hear her read from This Is Major at a Zoom reading for THE ANTIBODY.

Shayla Lawson was scheduled to lead a poetry workshop at Disquiet 2020, and we hope she’ll return for 2021.


this is major composite