LIVE from NYPL, Online: The Harry Belafonte Black Liberation Speaker Series: Raven Leilani and Kiley Reid

Date and Time
November 16, 2020
Event Details

Reid and Leilani's debut novels reflect on the struggles faced by young Black women trying to find happiness and success inside worlds dominated by whiteness.

A transcript of this event is available by clicking here.

Book Covers, Such a Fun Age and LusterRaven Leilani and Kiley Reid published their debut novels just months apart to great acclaim. In Leilani's Luster, Edie is a young Black woman trying both to navigate a career in publishing and to figure out her role in a romantic entanglement with an older white couple experimenting with an open marriage. Reid's Such a Fun Age follows Emira, a young Black woman working as a babysitter in the home of an upper-class white Philadelphia family. Following a humiliating confrontation in a supermarket, in which Emira is accused of kidnapping her two-year-old charge, she must confront the true depths of white supremacy and white privilege. Luster and Such a Fun Age were both immediate bestsellers, and Reid was a finalist for the 2020 NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award.

In conversation with writer Roxanne Fequiere, Leilani and Reid come together for one night to discuss their novels, and the overlapping thematic and narrative resonances that have made them both so compelling for so many readers.

The Harry Belafonte Black Liberation Speaker Series is made possible thanks to support from Kenneth Cole.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

Raven Leilani's work has been published in Granta, The Yale Review, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel.

Kiley Reid is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was the recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, Such a Fun Age, is currently in development by Lena Waithe's Hillman Grad Productions and Sight Unseen Pictures. The novel was longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and a finalist for The New York Public Library's 2020 Young Lions Fiction Award, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author, and the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. Kiley's writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy, December, Lumina, where her short story was the winner in the 2017 Flash Prose Contest, and Ploughshares, where her short story was the winner of the 2020 Ashley Leigh Bourne Prize for Fiction. Kiley lives in Philadelphia. 

Roxanne Fequiere is a multidisciplinary writer based in New York. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, The Village Voice, ELLE, Domino, and more; as a copywriter, she's worked with clients ranging from the New York City Mayor's Office to Nike.

If you have a NYPL library card—or live in New York state and want to apply for one now—you can borrow Luster and Such a Fun Age for free with our e-reader app SimplyE, available for iOS and Android devices. The titles are also available in accessible formats for community members who do not use standard print. Find out more at:

Readers everywhere who wish to purchase copies of Luster and Such a Fun Age can do so at The New York Public Library Shop. Proceeds benefit The New York Public Library. Plus, receive a 125th Anniversary tote bag with your purchase!

Raven Leilani suggests these titles for further reading:
Hard Damage by Aria Aber
The New Me by Halle Butler
If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
Outline by Rachel Cusk
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
Here Is The Sweet Hand by Francine J. Harris
White Negroes by Lauren Michele Jackson
A Separation by Katie Kitamura
Finna by Nate Marshall
Cool for America by Andrew Martin
On Beauty Zadie Smith

Kiley Reid suggests these titles for further reading:
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid 
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

This program will be streamed live on Zoom and simulcast to YouTube. You must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. Please check your email shortly before the discussion to receive the link. Captions for this event will be provided. If you miss registration, join us on YouTube to watch at 8 PM EDT on Monday, November 16th. 


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