Hugo Lit Series | Reincarnation: Omar El Akkad, Lilliam Rivera, Joshua Mohr, Brenna Bruce
Every year, Hugo House commissions new prose, poetry, and songs based on a writing prompt. During the Hugo Literary Series, authors share the results. This year, we’ve decided to go with the theme re/birth to celebrate, if not the end of the pandemic, then at least some way of us living in the world with it, and the revival/resurgence of creativity that has been dormant for two long years.
For this evening's event, writers Omar El Akkad, Lilliam Rivera, Joshua Mohr, and Brenna Bruce present their new works based on the sub-theme of reincarnation: a new version of something from the past.
See the full 2022-23 Hugo Literary Series lineup here »
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Brenna Bruce captures a folk sound that makes you nostalgic for voices from the past. Moved by the honest writing and soothing melodies of Americana, she is inspired by the universality of telling stories through song and sound. She has one of those voices that captures all of the air in the room, leaving the listeners stunned, curious, and viscerally connected to the present moment.
Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of young adult and middle grade novels, most recently the YA novel Never Look Back (Bloomsbury YA, 2020), which BookPage called “a revelation” in a starred review, and the middle grade novel Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020), which Kirkus praised as a “winner of a series opener.” She has two books forthcoming in Fall 2021; in September, Rivera’s first comic for DC Comics, Unearthed, and in October, We Light Up the Sky from Bloomsbury YA. Previous YA novels include Dealing in Dreams (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019), which was featured in Teen Vogue, PBS Books, Los Angeles Times, and Bustle, among other outlets, and has received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist; and The Education of Margot Sanchez (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017), nominated for a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association and was featured on NPR, New York Times Book Review, New York magazine, MTV.com, and Teen Vogue, among others. Rivera’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Elle, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, to name a few.
She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni with a Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship. Rivera has also been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation. Her short story "Death Defiant Bomba" received honorable mention in Bellevue Literary Review's 2014 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, selected by author Nathan Englander. She recently received honorable mention in the 2018 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award.
Rivera was interviewed by Lightspeed in 2019 and was asked about a comment she made in an NPR interview about The Education of Margot Sanchez in which she explained her belief in “firsts’ in YA novels: “In young adult fiction, I believe a lot of the characters must go through a discovery of “firsts.” The first kiss. The first sense of shame. I love those moments in young adult literature when the protagonist discovers how their parents or adults are completely flawed and full of unrealized desires or dreams.”
Born in the Bronx and currently living in Los Angeles, Rivera has been a featured speaker in countless schools and book festivals throughout the United States and teaches creative writing workshops.
Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called "Beat-poet cool." He’s also written Fight Song and Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as Termite Parade, an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. His novel All This Life won the Northern California Book Award. He’s written a memoir, Sirens, and is under contract with FSG for the second installment. His next novel, Get Rich, will be published by FSG in winter 2022 and has already been optioned by Circle of Confusion Television Studios. Recently, AMC bought his noir show.
Omar El Akkad
Omar El Akkad is an award-winning journalist and author whose debut novel, American War, was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire, and was selected by the BBC as one of a hundred novels that changed our world. His second novel, What Strange Paradise, won the Giller Prize and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.