Lannan Center Writer-in-Residence Recounts Tales of Youth
Published: Friday, February 14, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 14, 2014 02:02
Tope Folarin, the Caine Prize Winner for African Writing, read his short story “Miracle” aloud to a packed audience at Copley Formal Lounge on Feb. 11.
Folarin, a Lannan Center Writer-in-Residence, read the entirety of “Miracle,” which details his upbringing as a son of two Nigerian citizens in the United States. This piece explores an experience Folarin had in a Nigerian evangelical church in Texas and highlights his desire for miracles and hope.
“I tried to expose the lies in the interest of truth. The core of the story is that the miracle doesn’t necessarily happen; it just matters that these people leave with hope. They need this miracle to happen. It is absolutely necessary,” Folarin said at the reading.
Folarin will reside at Georgetown for a month to meet with students, visit classes and take an active part in the intellectual life of the university as part of his Caine Prize.
“Folarin is an exciting new voice in American and African writing, bringing an extraordinary attention to craft to bear on challenging questions of identity. We are very privileged to have him with us at Georgetown for a month, as part of the Caine Prize residency,” English professor Coilin Parsons said.
Judges selected “Miracle” from over 100 stories, compared it with four other finalists and then chose it as the winner of the Caine Prize.
Tope used his experiences to speak to the larger immigrant community about identity issues.
“We need our parents to realize that we are American, and we need our children to realize that they are Nigerian,” Folarin said.
Listeners were moved by Folarin’s story.
“I found the presentation excellent. As an immigrant, I really related to the dysphoria he was writing about,” said Jason Park, a student at American University.
Other students were impressed with Folarin’s early success as a writer.
“For an author so young in his literary career, to win such an award and be such a composed reader was very cool,” Danny Falasca (MSB ’16) said.
The highly attended event filled Copley Formal to its capacity.
“He was a very powerful speaker. It was fascinating how his life and African-American roots contributed to his identity as a writer,” Irene Koo (COL ’16) said.
The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, which sponsors this event annually, picked Folarin according to the Caine jury, which the English department holds a seat on.
“Tope Folarin is not only a very gifted writer, but a talented public reader of his work. The students have been thrilled by their discussions with him and his visits to classes,” Lannan Center Director Carolyn Forche said.
Folarin’s February residence entails classroom visits and meetings with students.
English Professor Nathan Hensley, who delivered Folarin’s introduction, served as one of the five judges on the panel for the 2013 Caine Prize.
“The Caine is supremely important in identifying new talent, and Tope is a brilliant and exciting winner in that respect,” Hensley wrote in an e-mail.
Special to The Hoya Ryan Thomas contributed reporting.