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Jess Row at Harvard Square Book Store

August 15, 2019 @ 7:00 pm


August 15, 2019
7:00 pm
Event Category:


Cambridge, MA 02138 United States + Google Map

Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed writer JESS ROW—author of Your Face in Mine—for a discussion of his new book, White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination. He will be joined in conversation by award-winning local writer GISH JEN.

About White Flights

White Flights is a meditation on whiteness in American fiction and culture from the end of the civil rights movement to the present. At the heart of the book, Jess Row ties “white flight”―the movement of white Americans into segregated communities, whether in suburbs or newly gentrified downtowns―to white writers setting their stories in isolated or emotionally insulated landscapes, from the mountains of Idaho in Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping to the claustrophobic households in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Row uses brilliant close readings of work from well-known writers such as Don DeLillo, Annie Dillard, Richard Ford, and David Foster Wallace to examine the ways these and other writers have sought imaginative space for themselves at the expense of engaging with race.

White Flights aims to move fiction to a more inclusive place, and Row looks beyond criticism to consider writing as a reparative act. What would it mean, he asks, if writers used fiction “to approach each other again”? Row turns to the work of James Baldwin, Dorothy Allison, and James Alan McPherson to discuss interracial love in fiction, while also examining his own family heritage as a way to interrogate his position. A moving and provocative book that includes music, film, and literature in its arguments, White Flights is an essential work of cultural and literary criticism.

Praise for White Flights

“These are brilliant, sweeping, intimate delights―and afterward, you may never read the same way again.” ―Alexander Chee

“A major literary and intellectual intervention, clarifying the real stakes in what we too complacently call ‘identity politics.’” ―Pankaj Mishra

“We need this book, now and yesterday.” ―Kiese Laymon