Three of the Festival’s most exciting millennial authors explore how their darkly funny, profoundly moving debut works engage with the excesses of late capitalism. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s stinging satire Friday Black dissects the dehumanising forces of capitalism and racism in America. Ling Ma’s Severance ponders consumerism and globalisation in a New York zombie apocalypse. Ireland’s Caoilinn Hughes examines art, privilege and the meritocracy myth in her hilarious and anarchic Orchid and the Wasp. In conversation with Peter Polites.
Caoilinn Hughes (International)
Caoilinn Hughes is an Irish writer whose poetry collection Gathering Evidence won the Irish Times Shine/Strong Award. She has received fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, Art Omi, La Napoule Foundation and Siena Art Institute, as well as a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and the Ireland Funds Monaco Award. Her work has appeared in Granta, POETRY, Tin House, BBC Radio 3 and elsewhere. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr calls Hughes’ debut novel Orchid & the Wasp, “a gorgeous novel told in an onrush of wit and ferocity [... which] will rattle your most basic assumptions about money, ambition, and the nature of love. Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.”
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (International)
According to the New York Times, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s bestselling debut Friday Black is “a powerful and important and strange and beautiful collection of stories meant to be read right now... an unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice... Adjei-Brenyah, with his own “maroon of life,” is here to signal a warning, or perhaps just to say this is what it feels like, in stories that move and breathe and explode on the page.” Nana is from Spring Valley, New York, and graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University. He was the 2016-2017 Olive B. O'Connor Fellow in Fiction at Colgate University. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Guernica, Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing, Printer’s Row, Gravel, and The Breakwater Review, where he was selected by ZZ Packer as the winner of the 2nd Annual Breakwater Review Fiction Contest.
Ling Ma (International)
Ling Ma is author of the novel Severance, which received the Kirkus Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. Her work has appeared in Granta, Playboy, Vice, Ninth Letter, ACM and others. She holds an MFA from Cornell University and an AB from the University of Chicago, where she currently serves as Assistant Professor of Practice in the Arts. “Severance is the best work of fiction I’ve read yet about the millennial condition―the alienation and cruelty that comes with being a functional person under advanced global capitalism, and the compromised pleasures and irreducibly personal meaning to be found in claiming some stability in a terrible world.” ― Jia Tolentino, New Yorker staff writer.
Peter Polites (Australian)
Peter Polites is a novelist and playwright from Western Sydney. He started his writing career in Sweatshop. His first novel Down the Hume is part queer, part ethnic and all noir. His second novel, a satire of gay aspirations, The Pillars, will be out in 2019.