Hugo Literary Series: Benjamin Percy, Vanessa Hua, Keetje Kuipers, and SassyBlack
For the 2018–19 season of Hugo Literary Series — the first in our new home — we’re looking back to look forward and asking the writers and musicians to create new things from the old. Each event within the series takes its theme from an iconic book — those whose titles have a resonance beyond the book itself.
Award-winning fiction writer Benjamin Percy (Red Moon, The Wilding); author and journalist Vanessa Hua, whose novel, A River of Stars, was named to the Washington Post and NPR’s “Best Books of 2018” lists; and well-known local poet Keetje Kuipers, will read new work on the theme The Metamorphosis, inspired by the title of Franz Kafka’s much-loved absurdist novella.
Space-age singer-songwriter SassyBlack — who has been featured by KEXP, Pitchfork, Afropunk, and others — will perform new songs to the same theme.
Benjamin Percy is the author of four novels, including The Dead Lands (Grand Central/Hachette, 2015), a post apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga. He is also the author of The Dark Net (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Red Moon (Grand Central/Hachette, 2013), and The Wilding (Graywolf, 2007), as well as two books of short stories. His honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whiting Writers’ Award, two Pushcart Prizes, the Plimpton Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics.
Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, and the novel, A River of Stars, which O, The Oprah Magazine calls “a marvel” and The Economist says is “delightful.” For two decades, she has been writing, in journalism and in fiction, about Asia and the Asian diaspora. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. She works and teaches at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
Keetje Kuipers is the author of three books of poems, including, Beautiful in the Mouth (BOA, 2010), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and a Poetry Foundation bestseller. Her second collection, The Keys to the Jail (2014), was a book club pick for The Rumpus, and her third book, All Its Charms (2019), includes poems honored by publication in both The Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies. Her work has appeared in over a hundred journals, including Narrative, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Orion, and The Believer. Her poems have also been featured as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series and read on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac. Kuipers has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow, a Bread Loaf fellow, and the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident, among other honors. She lives on an island in the Salish Sea and is senior editor at Poetry Northwest.
SassyBlack is a multi-talented, multifaceted musician. She is a vocalist, a composer, a producer, an educator and an unexplored galaxy made of fist-pump, funk, and beat-fertility. Her organic blend of experimental hip-hop, unpredictable syncopation and neon-womanism, Silver and Gold, is geeked-out and polished in the absolute best abnormal way. The fanny-pack-hologram has been billed the “hardest working” multi-layered performer on the West Coast and with praise from NYLON, The Fader, Okayplayer, Pitchfork, ESSENCE & more, it’s easy to see SassyBlack is weaving her vocals and celestial style in a way that is unapologetic and funk worthy. After debuting her solo work in Berlin, Barcelona, London and the states, neo-soul-funk specialists all agree there is deeper satisfaction in SassyBlack’s evolution.