The critically acclaimed American novelist Susan Straight spoke to an audience of Bilkent students and faculty on Friday, November 3, at an event sponsored by the American Culture Society and the Department of American Culture and Literature. A native of southern California, Ms. Straight is the author of eight novels, including “Acquaboogie,” “A Million Nightingales” and “Between Heaven and Earth.” She has won a number of prizes for her fiction, and one of her novels was nominated for the National Book Award. She is also a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.
In her talk, Ms. Straight, who was born, raised and continues to reside in Riverside, emphasized the way in which her novels display an acute sense of place. She discussed how her stories depict the lives of ordinary working people from Latino and African American ethnic backgrounds living in the Riverside community, the surrounding region and other parts of the United States. Her fiction has often arisen, she explained, from stories told by members of her extended family network and by others in her community. Frequently her work describes harrowing and even tragic events endured by people of color, thereby shedding light on the lives of otherwise forgotten individuals.
Ms. Straight also provided advice to students on how to become a writer.