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CONTAGIOUS EXCHANGES: Randa Jarrar with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

December 7, 2016 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

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The monthly series hosted and curated by Lambda Literary Award-winning writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore continues with December’s installment, featuring award-winning novelist Randa Jarrar and writer and cultural worker Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

Randa Jarrar is the author of the recent story collection Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (Sarabande Books), called an extraordinary debut by People magazine. Jarrar’s stories grapple with love, loss, displacement, and survival in a collection that moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present.

“These stories laugh with and think through and rise against, which is just to say they brilliantly demonstrate Jarrar’s huge talent, compassion and range. Him,Me, Muhammed Ali astonishes from start to finish.” — Sam Lipsyte

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s memoir Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home was a Publisher’s Triangle and Lambda Award finalist and American Library Association Stonewall Award winner in 2016. From 2006-2016, she co-founded and co-directed Mangos With Chili, North America’s longest running QTPOC performance art tour. She is a lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid, and is a weirdo who writes about survivorhood, disability justice, queer femme of color bodies and lives and Sri Lankan diaspora.

Jarrar and Piepzna-Samarasinha will read from their respective works, followed by an onstage conversation with Sycamore.


Note: This event is free and open to the public. The bar will be open. Accessibility info can be found here.


jarrarRanda Jarrar is the author of Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Utne Reader, Salon.com, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Oxford American, Ploughshares, Five Chapters, and others. Her first novel, A Map of Home, was published in half a dozen languages & won a Hopwood Award, an Arab-American Book Award, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes and Noble Review. She has received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Hedgebrook, and others, and in 2010 was named one of the most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40. She runs RAWI (the Radius of Arab-American Writers) and loves coordinating events and strengthening communities.


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Photo by Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled nonbinary femme writer and cultural worker of Burger/ Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/ Roma ascent. The author of Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home (Publisher’s Triangle and Lambda Award 2016 finalist, American Library Association Stonewall Award winner 2016), Bodymap (Publisher’s Triangle 2016 finalist), Love Cake (Lambda Award 2012), and Consensual Genocide, and co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities, her work has been widely anthologized, most recently in Glitter and Grit and Octavia’s Brood. She is currently working on her next book of poems, Tonguebreaker, and a collection of essays.


mattildabsycamoreMattilda Bernstein Sycamore is most recently the author of a memoir, The End of San Francisco, which won a Lambda Literary Award, and the editor of Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?, an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book.