ASU Creative Writing Presents Jess Row

This event last occurred Sept. 17, 2019

The Creative Writing Program at ASU presents author Jess Row in a reading from his work followed by a Q&A and book signing.

Row is the author of "White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination," as well as the novel "Your Face in Mine" and the story collections "The Train to Lo Wu" and "Nobody Ever Gets Lost." "White Flights" is his first book of nonfiction. One of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists of 2007, he lives in New York and teaches at the College of New Jersey.

Book summary

"White Flights" is a meditation on whiteness in American fiction and culture from the end of the civil rights movement to the present. At the heart of the book, Jess Row ties “white flight” — the movement of white Americans into segregated communities, whether in suburbs or newly gentrified downtowns — to white writers setting their stories in isolated or emotionally insulated landscapes, from the mountains of Idaho in Marilynne Robinson’s "Housekeeping" to the claustrophobic households in Jonathan Franzen’s "The Corrections." Row uses brilliant close readings of work from well-known writers such as Don DeLillo, Annie Dillard, Richard Ford, and David Foster Wallace to examine the ways these and other writers have sought imaginative space for themselves at the expense of engaging with race.

"White Flights" aims to move fiction to a more inclusive place, and Row looks beyond criticism to consider writing as a reparative act. What would it mean, he asks, if writers used fiction “to approach each other again”? Row turns to the work of James Baldwin, Dorothy Allison, and James Alan McPherson to discuss interracial love in fiction, while also examining his own family heritage as a way to interrogate his position. A moving and provocative book that includes music, film, and literature in its arguments, "White Flights" is an essential work of cultural and literary criticism.


“Row has produced a thoughtful and timely meditation that serves as a call to white writers.” —Pop Matters

“This intelligent collection is often deeply engaged in realms of philosophy and literary theory. . . . There is something for every reader . . . in the message that fiction not only reflects but acts upon real life, and that each of us is obliged to act for justice, in reading and writing as in life.” —Shelf Awareness

“With these superb essays, Jess Row reveals himself to be an insightful critic of both literature and the American condition.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen

“Jess Row performs a much-needed analysis. . . . The landscape of the imagination, like the country itself, he argues with rich insight and brio, is neither equal nor free.” —John Keene

Jess Row / Courtesy photo

Ross-Blakley Hall room 117

For more information contact:

Justin Petropoulos
Department of English