Welcome to our second installment of The BKBF Interview, an ongoing series of Q&As with some of this year’s featured authors. Eve L. Ewing, author of Electric Arches, shares her best book-receiving experience, what book keeps her up at night, and plans the Brooklyn Book Festival event she’d most like to see. Join us each week as we prepare for September!
Where is your favorite place to read? In the year 1994, in my grandparents’ backyard. Second favorite place: in the year 1996, on the school bus.
What is your favorite book to give an adult or a child? I love giving The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats to very small children. It was one of my favorite books to be read aloud when I was little and it’s the first book I remember looking at and thinking, “This is just like my life!”
What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime? An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, and I know I’m not alone on that one. That book had me stopping near-strangers in passing and spilling the tea, like the characters were real. I was like, “You won’t BELIEVE what just happened!”
If you had the power to create your own fantasy BKBF panel—any writer or artist, dead or alive—who would you love to see discussing books? I would like to see Zora Neale Hurston do a panel on books by contemporary authors. I know she would have no chill—she would tell you everything she loved and hated about everybody’s book, and all the authors, too, while she was at it.
Tell us your best book-receiving experience. I am blessed to have lots, but here is one. When I was in third grade, I got busted reading comic books in math class. I wasn’t slick at all. I was doing the thing where the book was hidden inside the textbook and my teacher caught me. She took my comics away. The next morning, when I came into the room, on my desk was a book called The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews. She had a note saying that maybe this would stop me from reading comics. Well, it didn’t, but I loved the book, and I was just beaming that my teacher had thought to share something special with me.
Eve L. Ewing is a writer, sociologist, visual artist, and educator from Chicago. She is the author of Electric Arches and Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side. She also co-wrote the multimedia performance No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Her work has been published in Poetry magazine, The New York Times, The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Nation, The FADER, the Washington Post, and many other venues. She is a sociologist of education at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She also co-directs Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops community-engaged arts events and educational resources as a form of cultural organizing, and is one-half of the writing collective Echo Hotel, alongside Hanif Abdurraqib.