Author Keenan Norris came of age as a member of one of a growing number of Black families who moved to the Inland Empire from Los Angeles in the late 1980s. His essay in the Fall 2020 issue of Alta Journal recounts a childhood amid snakes, scorpions, and racism. Norris is joined in conversation by author and Alta contributor Susan Straight for an intimate discussion on writing and race in the suburbs of Southern California. REGISTER
About the author:
Keenan Norris’s novel, Brother and the Dancer, won the 2012 James D. Houston Award. His essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and PopMatters, among other outlets. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Oakland Noir, Inlandia: A Literary Journey Through California’s Inland Empire, and San Bernardino, Singing. He serves as an editor for the Oxford African American Studies Center and teaches American literature and creative writing at San José State University. His next novel, The Confession of Copeland Cane, will be published in June 2021.
About the moderator:
Susan Straight has published eight novels, including Highwire Moon, Between Heaven and Here, and A Million Nightingales. Her memoir, In the Country of Women, is Barnes & Noble’s September 2020 Nonfiction Pick. Straight has been a finalist for the National Book Awards, the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, and the National Magazine Awards. She is the recipient of the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, the Edgar Award for Best Short Story, the O. Henry Prize, the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her stories and essays have been published in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Granta, McSweeney’s, Black Clock, Harper’s, and other journals. She is a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. She was born in Riverside, where she lives with her family.