Sunday, March 2, 2008

Stephanie Grant

Stephanie Grant is an award-winning writer whose first novel, The Passion of Alice, was longlisted for Britain's Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. She has taught creative writing at Ohio State University and Mount Holyoke College and is currently visiting writer at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University.

From a Q & A about her new novel, Map of Ireland:

Lots of big issues are on the table in Map of Ireland, including race, sexuality, class, religion, and activism. How did you manage to weave so many important questions into the novel?

Much of the "weaving" you describe comes from the situation the characters find themselves in. At first, I thought I had to do more to make the political stakes explicit. But as I worked, it became clear that given the historical backdrop in which Ann's story takes place, I didn't have to force the issues - they were front and center all along. One of the reasons I was attracted to the period of desegregation in Boston was the year it took place - 1974. I knew from my own experience and reading, that both the feminist movement and Black Nationalism were very vibrant political forces at the time. I was particularly taken by the irony of desegregation and Black Nationalism occurring in the same space. Another way to phrase this would be to ask how radical or progressive Black folks in Boston balanced the need for public school desegregation with the libratory separatist impulses of Nationalism? These types of contradictions feel very much a part of contemporary American life -how do we stay flexible in our thinking, yet committed to our political values?

Read the entire Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue