Jamel Brinkley – Witness

Tuesday Talks

Jamel Brinkley – Witness

Color photograph of a brown skinned man wearing a gray sweater; he sits on front of a concrete wall and smiles slightly at the camera

Jamel Brinkley (photograph by Arash Saedinia)

Jamel Brinkley, the 2023 Rome Prize Fellow in literature, discusses his most recent book, Witness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2023). 

Witness is an elegant, insistent narrative of actions taken and not taken. What does it mean to really see the world around you—to bear witness? And what does it cost us, both to see and not to see? In these ten stories, each set in the changing landscapes of contemporary New York City, a range of characters—from children to grandmothers to ghosts—live through the responsibility of perceiving and the moral challenge of speaking up or taking action. Though they strive to connect with, stand up for, care for, and remember one another, they often fall short, and the structures they build around these ambitions and failures shape their futures as well as the legacies and prospects of their communities and their city. In its portraits of families and friendships lost and found, the paradox of intimacy, the long shadow of grief, and the meaning of home, Witness enacts its own testimony. Here is a world where fortunes can be made and stolen in just a few generations, where strangers might sometimes show kindness while those we trust—doctors, employers, siblings—too often turn away, where joy comes in snatches: flowers on a windowsill, dancing in the street, glimpsing your purpose, change on the horizon.

This event, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public.

Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man, which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the John Leonard Prize, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. His work has appeared in the Paris Review, A Public Space, Ploughshares, and The Best American Short Stories. He was raised in the Bronx and Brooklyn and currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Date & time
Tuesday, December 12, 2023
6:00 PM

SOF Zoom

Eastern Time