Namwali Serpell with Carmen Maria Machado
October 19 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
This event is online.
Exciting literary talent and the author behind 2019’s The Old Drift, Kepler’s is proud to present a discussion with Namwali Serpell for her new book Stranger Faces. This nonfiction essay in five parts covers pieces of culture as broad ranging as Joseph Merrick (the “elephant man”) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. With Stranger Faces, Serpell ask a key question: why do our actions towards one another hinge so much on a quick evaluation of looks? Serpell believes we assign too much meaning to a key physical feature—the face.
Part of the Undelivered Lectures series from Oakland’s Transit Books, this essay is equal parts savvy pop culture and college lecture hall-style, highly-researched thought experiment. The resulting book is a joy for deep thinkers. At its core is a question not only of philosophy, but of our shared humanity.
The face underlies our ideas about personhood. People relate to one another emotionally based on a specific kind of face; a theoretical “ideal” face, easy to recognize and categorize. In conversation with Carmen Maria Machado, Serpell unpacks the problem of this “ideal” in society. She turns our eyes toward faces which thwart quick recognition—disabled faces, racially ambiguous faces, digital faces, the faces of the dead—and imagines a new ethics by relating to these faces differently. The resulting conversation is an unusual look at the picture frame through which we see the world, and through which the world interprets us.
A winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, NAMWALI SERPELL is a Zambian writer and Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2019.
CARMEN MARIA MACHADO is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the celebrated short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She is a recipient of the Bard Fiction Prize, a Lamda Literary Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award.
**Please consider joining with a book or donation to support the production of this event and make it possible for us to continue bringing you great conversations. Registration will close one hour before the event; please reserve your spot early to guarantee access, as registrations are limited.**