Fiction: Work and Identity

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Mateo Askaripour
Black Buck, Saturday, October 23 | virtual

Mateo Askaripour’s work aims to empower people of color to seize opportunities for advancement, no matter the obstacle. He was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. His debut novel Black Buck was an instant New York Times bestseller and a Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick. He lives in Brooklyn.

Eric Giroux
Ring on Deli, Saturday, October 23 | virtual

Eric Giroux's fiction has received support from Millay Arts, and he has contributed to the Bread Loaf and Eckerd College writers' conferences. His debut novel Ring On Deli won the 2021 National Indie Excellence Award for Comedy. By day, he is an attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Like deli-clerk Ray Markham in his novel, he lives with his family outside of Boston and makes sandwiches both swiftly and neatly.

Zakiya Dalila Harris
The Other Black Girl, Saturday, October 23 | virtual

Zakiya Dalila Harris spent nearly three years in editorial at Knopf/Doubleday before leaving to write her debut novel The Other Black Girl. Prior to working in publishing, Harris received her MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Guernica, and the Rumpus. She lives in Brooklyn.

Elizabeth Gonzalez James
Mona at Sea, Saturday, October 23 | virtual


Before becoming a writer, Elizabeth Gonzalez Jameswas a waitress, a pollster, an Avon lady, and an opera singer. Her stories and essays have appeared in the Idaho Review, the Rumpus, StorySouth, PANK, and elsewhere, and have received numerous Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. In 2021 she is a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog. Her first novel, Mona at Sea, was a finalist in the 2019 SFWP Literary Awards judged by Carmen Maria Machado, and is available now from Santa Fe Writers Project. Originally from South Texas, Elizabeth now lives with her family in Massachusetts.

Lanelle Sneed
Sunday, October 23 | virtual

Lanelle Sneed is a seasoned technical professional and recent entrepreneur. She holds a BS degree in computer information science from Northeastern University and a certification in agile methodologies, and is currently enrolled to obtain a MS in business analytics from UMass Boston. From her twelve years as a technical professional she gained a love for problem-solving and analytics. Sneed is also the founder of Creative Lane Consulting, and cofounder of Books on the Rox. In her spare time she enjoys reading, biking, volunteering, and attending live music events.


2021 has seen a phenomenon known as “The Great Resignation,” thanks to so many professionals reflecting during the pandemic and recognizing a mismatch between their jobs and their personal priorities. If this sounds familiar, the novelists in this session will speak to you! In Black Buck, Mateo Askaripour blends satire and self-help as he traces one young man’s meteoric rise—and fall—as the only Black salesperson at a hot new startup, in what the Washington Post calls “an irresistible comic novel about the tenacity of racism in corporate America.” Zakiya Dalila Harris, in The Other Black Girl, also confronts racism in the workplace—in this case, the author’s first-hand experiences in the publishing industry—in the guise of a thriller Kirkus calls “slyly brilliant.” The title character of Elizabeth Gonzalez James’s novel Mona at Sea used to be an ambitious go-getter—that is, until the Great Recession of 2008 saw her laid off before she even got onboarded, and now she spends her days fruitlessly applying for meaningless jobs. Variety calls Mona at Sea “a winsome meditation on how to carry on living in the aftermath of disrupted plans”--something we can all relate to these days. And speaking of relating, the plot of Eric Giroux’s Ring on Deli might sound familiar to Massachusetts readers, as a young man must decide where his loyalties lie when the employees of a New England supermarket chain rise up against their corrupt leadership. Kirkus compares Giroux’s writing to Richard Russo’s, and calls Ring on Deli “a well-balanced comic tale that deftly grapples with larger contemporary themes.” All four of these talented writers are debut novelists—perhaps their conversation, moderated by Books on the Rox’s Lanelle Sneed, will inspire you to add “author” to your résumé, too! Sponsored by Greenough Brand Storytellers.

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