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Episode 75 - Jonathan Escoffery

Photo Credit: Cola Greenhill-Casados

It's Miami Book Fair time, and I'm so excited. Ahead of this year's Fair, I interviewed Jonathan Escoffery about his award-winning, critically acclaimed, debut, short story collection, If I Survive You. I'll be moderating a panel at the Miami Book Fair on November 19, 2023, and Jonathan is one of three authors on the panel. If you're in the area, please come by and say hello. I didn't grow up in Miami, but I've called the area home for over a decade now. I think I have a good feel for the rhythm of the city and of South Florida in general, and I love reading books set in the region.

It's clear that Jonathan Escoffery knows this area well, too. His collection is ser primarily in Miami, and it's a Miami that natives and long-time transplants like myself will recognize.

Escoffery grew up in the area, the son of Jamaican immigrants, and he graduated from FIU. His collection is a finalist for the 2023 Booker Prize and was long listed for the 2022 National Book Award. It also won American Short Fiction‘s 2023 Constellation Award for a story collection. The family at the center of these stories also traces their roots to Jamaica. The collection consists of eight linked short stories about a family that immigrated to the US in the 1970s. Parents Topper, Sanya, and oldest son Delano leave Jamaica due to rising violence in Kingston. A few years later another son, Trelawney, is born. The family struggles with finances and Trelawney struggles with issues of identity. He's constantly asked, "what are you?" by other kids and even adults who can't pinpoint his race or ethnicity.

During our conversation, Jonathan revealed...

- How he was able to write about painful and complex topics such as racism with humor

- Why he chose to write a lot of the stories in second person

- The question he's asked repeatedly that doesn't seem quite fair You can listen to the interview here and help Jonathan and the show by purchasing his book here.

During the show, Jonathan mentioned a slang word that was a bit confusing for the copy editor working on his book. The first person to tell us what that word was either by reaching out to us on Twitter (I've never calling it X) or Facebook or by emailing us (readmorepodcast @ gmail) with the correct response will will a free copy of If I Survive You.

If you have won a ReadMore giveaway in the last 90 days, you're ineligible. If you and I ever completed an online module about cybersecurity together, you're probably ineligible. ReadMore doesn't have a friends and family plan! But we'll always have the memories of those funny videos we were forced to watch.


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