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An Evening with Marlon James & Desiree C. Bailey

Headshots and names of Marlon James, Desiree C. Bailey and William Johnson; Book Cover of Moon Witch, Spider King on the right

Books & Books partnered with the National Book Foundation, Miami Book Fair, and PEN America to celebrate the launch of Moon Witch, Spider King, the latest release of National Book Award finalist Marlon James’ Dark Star Trilogy! Marlon was in conversation with National Book Award finalist Desiree C. Bailey to discuss folklore, fantasy, and the writing of contemporary epics. The conversation took place at Books & Books on February 19th, 2022, and was moderated by PEN Across America Director William Johnson

In the previous installation of the trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who had disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon took center stage and gave her own account of what happened to the vanished boy, and how she plotted, fought, triumphed, and failed in her search for him.

Both a brilliant shift in narrative perspective, as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of an empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, the latest tale in the Dark Star trilogy is a fascinating exploration of power, personality, and the places where they overlap.

2022 An Evening with Marlon James & Desiree C. Bailey


Marlon James headshotMarlon James is the author of the New York Times bestselling National Book Award finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, and The Book of Night Women and John Crow’s Devil. In addition to the Booker Prize, his novels have won the American Book Award, the Los Angeles Times’ Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Born in Jamaica, James lives in New York City.

Desiree C Bailey headshotDesiree C. Bailey is the author of What Noise Against the Cane (Yale University Press, 2021), winner of the 2020 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. She is also the author of the fiction chapbook In Dirt or Saltwater (O’clock Press, 2016) and has short stories and poems published in Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, the Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. Desiree is a recipient of awards from the New York State Council on the Arts/New York Foundation for the Arts and Poets & Writers. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Desiree grew up in Queens, New York, and is currently an English teacher in Brooklyn.

William Johnson headshotWilliam Johnson is the PEN Across America program director at PEN America. A longtime steward in the writing community, Johnson was the editor and publisher of Mary Literary, a literary magazine committed to showcasing work of artistic integrity. He also co-produced Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, the first major anthology for queer poets of color in the United States. In 2011, Johnson began his tenure at Lambda Literary, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ literature. As the deputy director of Lambda Literary, Johnson oversaw many of the organization’s most dynamic programs and public events, including the Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices and Lambda’s web magazine, the Lambda Literary Review.

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