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My Monticello: Jocelyn Nicole Johnson in conversation with C. Morgan Babst

Event date: 
Friday, October 15, 2021 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.

Charis welcomes Jocelyn Nicole Johnson in conversation with C. Morgan Babst for a celebration of My Monticello: Fiction. United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable book that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.

A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In “Control Negro,” hailed by Roxane Gay as “one hell of story,” a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to “painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there.” Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.”

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s writing has appeared in GuernicaThe Guardian, Phoebe, Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere. Her short story “Control Negro” was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2018, guest edited by Roxane Gay, and read live by LeVar Burton as part of PRI’s Selected Shorts series. Johnson has been a fellow at Hedgebrook, Tin House Summer Workshops, and VCCA. A veteran public school art teacher, Johnson lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

C. Morgan Babst is a native of New Orleans. Her debut novel, The Floating World, was named one of the best books of 2017 by Kirkus, Amazon, Southern Living, and the Dallas Morning News and was a New York Times Editors’ Pick. Morgan studied writing at Yale and NYU, and her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Washington Post, Saveur, The Oxford American, Guernica, Garden and Gun, the Harvard Review, Lenny Letter, and the anthology Horse Girls, among others. She currently teaches in the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans and serves on the board of the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage

We will be archiving this event and adding closed captioning as soon as possible after airing so that it will be accessible to deaf and HOH people. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to info@chariscircle.org. We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

By attending our virtual event you agree to our Code of Conduct: Our event seeks to provide a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), class, or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Sexual language and imagery are not appropriate. Anyone violating these rules will be expelled from this event and all future events at the discretion of the organizers. Please report all harassment to info@chariscircle.org immediately.

Event address: 
CROWDCAST
My Monticello: Fiction Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250807151
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - October 5th, 2021

“A badass debut by any measurenimble, knowing, and electrifying.”
Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Nickel Boys and Harlem Shuffle


The Floating World: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616208639
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - October 2nd, 2018

“Set in New Orleans, this important and powerful novel follows the Boisdoré family . . . in the months after Katrina. A profound, moving and authentically detailed picture of the storm’s emotional impact on those who lived through it.” —People

In this dazzling debut about family, home, and grief, C.


Event Summary: 
United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable book that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.