SFC Lecturer Named Finalist for 2018 National Book Awards in Fiction
By Chandra Persaud

Jamel Brinkley Reads from A Lucky Man on Nov. 1st

Acclaimed writer and adjunct lecturer at St. Francis College, Jamel Brinkley, has been named a 2018 National Book Awards finalist in fiction for his debut collection of short stories titled A Lucky Man.

Jamel Brinkley

Brinkley joins four other authors in the race for one of the country's most highly coveted literary prizes. The Chicago Review of Books calls his work "a standout debut for the year" and Booklist hails him "a gifted and empathetic new writer." This year's winner will be announced on Nov. 14th at the 69th National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City.

"Brinkley is a New Yorker that writes with a real love of his community," said Theo Gangi, co-director of the Walt Whitman Writers Series and director of SFC's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. "He doesn't shy away from tragedy and human frailty, but there's also joy, strength and striving on every page of this remarkable collection."

Brinkley will read from A Lucky Man at the Walt Whitman Writers Series event on November 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Maroney Theater. The event is free and open to the public. Following the reading, Gangi will sit down with Brinkley for a thought-provoking discussion about his work and writing experiences.

The event is hosted by the MFA in Creative Writing program, which is dedicated to showcasing the work of talented authors with students, faculty, and the Brooklyn community at large. Brinkley will join the list of outstanding writers featured in the past, including George Saunders, Marlon James, and Junot Díaz.

Amidst the current discourse about toxic masculinity and misogyny, A Lucky Man gives voice to the black male experience. The Brooklyn-raised writer takes us into the inner worlds of fully-fledged protagonists, all black males, as they wrestle with their masculinity—who they think they must be—and their private, vulnerable selves.

Plastered across the nine short stories in Brinkley's collection are characters that are deeply human—boys and men coming to terms with their identity, seeking connection and love, reflecting on an ever-pervading past, grappling with strained familial ties, and suppressing emotional turmoil, in part caused by oppression, police brutality, and incarceration.

"As an artist, I personally was interested in these characters and their stories," said Brinkley. "I wasn't sure anyone else would be. But I think art-making, storytelling, poetry—all the various forms of creation that strive to tell some kind of truth—are always important, and especially so in our current moment, when so much of public and political discourse is made up of lies."

Brinkley brilliantly uses the short story form to explore, with tenderness and profound insight, the complexity and nuances of what it means to be a black man in today's America.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a former Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Brinkley's work has been featured in The Best American Short Stories 2018, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Epiphany, and LitMag. He is currently the 2018-2020 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.

For more information about Jamel Brinkley or the Walt Whitman Writers Series, visit https://www.sfc.edu/news/waltwhitman or contact Theo Gangi at tgangi@sfc.edu.