UHCWP Student Spotlight: Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

February 1, 2017, by

Novuyo TshumaIn her first year as a PhD student at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP), Novuyo Rosa Tshuma has already accomplished something extraordinary: international major press publication. Novuyo’s novel, The House of Stone, is forthcoming with W.W. Norton in the USA, and Atlantic Books in the United Kingdom. A recipient of the Inprint Fondren Foundation/Michael and Nina Zilkha Fellowship and an Inprint International Fellowship and a native of Zimbabwe, she has an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her first collection, Shadows, was published to critical acclaim in 2013 by Kwela in South Africa, and awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize.

Houston writer and UH CWP faculty member Mat Johnson and fellow UH CWP classmate Melanie Brkich recently sat down with Novuyo.

MAT JOHNSON: This is your first year at UH–what made you interested in the program, and how has the transition been so far?

NOVUYO ROSA TSHUMA: I’m interested in strengthening my intellectual and creative writing interests, and the program has great faculty, an illustrious history and wonderful scholarship, and this was very attractive to me. Transitioning to a new place is always a mixture of excitement and disorientation, but I think it’s going well so far.

MAT: Your novel has just been bought by a USA and UK publisher, what is it about?

NOVUYO: The book has a microcosm of characters, I’m not sure I can summarize everything, but at the centre of the novel is our boisterous, wall-eyed narrator, Zamani, who, desperate to unshackle himself from an unsavory past and become a self-made man, rewrites and inserts himself into the history of a family he has become attached to, the Mlambos. And you know, he’s just obsessed with the past, he’s trying to reconstruct a self, he’s telling histories he has wangled out of others, and he’s an exposer of others’ ugly secrets, though he has secrets of his own he doesn’t want found out. Continue reading

Aja Gabel, UH Creative Writing Program alum, sells first novel to Riverhead Books

October 24, 2016, by

Aja GabelAja Gabel, University of Houston Creative Program PhD, Class of 2015, has sold her first novel, In Common Time, to Riverhead Books, where it will be published next year. We caught up with Aja in the calm before the storm of her literary debut. Some of you may know Aja as the recipient of the Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/Fondren Foundaiton Fellowship, winner of an Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Nonfiction, and winner of an Inprint Alexander Prize in Fiction. Aja also taught writing workshops for Inprint and was one of Inprint’s beloved live tweeters.

MAT JOHNSON: Congrats on placing you first book with the prestigious Riverhead imprint of Penguin Random House! Can you tell me, what’s the novel about? Did you start this book at the writing program, or after?

AJA GABEL: Thanks! The novel is about a string quartet, and how they manage their personal relationships as they battle for professional success. Each member desperately needs the quartet to succeed, but for very different and secret reasons, and along the way they navigate heartbreak, death, birth, marriage, injury, failure, and more. It’s told from all four of their perspectives and covers about 25 years. I played cello for 20 years, and I’ve always been fascinated as to how professional ensembles make a living together while also maintaining relationships with each other. It seems like it must be full of all kinds of turmoil and drama (hence, the novel).

I came up with the idea in the very first workshop I took with Chitra Divakaruni, when she forced us to pitch novels, and I panicked. That synopsis I pitched back then was so silly, but the general idea stayed with me. It took me a few years, but eventually I figured out how to actually make it into a novel that didn’t sound like a Lifetime movie. Hopefully.  Continue reading

Mat Johnson talks about his upcoming interview with George Saunders

January 21, 2014, by

saunders1On Monday we are thrilled to be presenting George Saunders as part of the 2013/2014 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Tickets for his reading sold out very quickly and those who don’t have tickets are kicking themselves for not buying tickets sooner. So what is it about George Saunders that makes him for so many people the writer of the moment?

Mat JohnsonWe thought it would be best to ask Mat Johnson a few questions. Mat is the author of the novels Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem; the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot; and the graphic novels Incognegro and Dark Rain. He’s a faculty member at the UH Creative Writing Program and will be conducting the on-stage interview of Saunders on Monday night. A big thanks to Mat for taking the time to talk to us.

Inprint: What was the first thing you read by George Saunders?

Mat Johnson: Pastoralia. It was one of those books that everyone told me I should read because it was so brilliant, and I assumed by that they meant it’s boring-but-smart-enough-that-you-blame-yourself. I bought it, put it off for a while, then when I finally picked it up, I kicked myself for not doing so sooner. It is a great thing when something lives up to its hype, and even surpasses it. This book did that for me. Not just smart and original, but entertaining, engaging. Continue reading

Michael Chabon : La Deuxième Partie

January 2, 2013, by

Chabon208So the end of the world didn’t happen after all, but at least there is a second coming, just not the kind you might imagine. On September 10, 2007, Michael Chabon kicked off the 27th season of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, reading from his book The Yiddish Policeman’s Union—a mix between the detective genre and alternate history. He charmed us all with his dazzling wit and brilliant insight on writing. This year, he’ll do it again. Chabon will kick off the second half of the 2012/2013 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series on January 28, 2013, reading from his latest novel, Telegraph Avenue. Following the reading, University of Houston Creative Writing Program faculty member, Mat Johnson (author of Incognegro and Pym), will sit down on stage to interview Michael Chabon and talk about Telegraph Avenue.

Before the reading, we thought it would be fun to look back at Chabon’s last visit. Here’s an excerpt from his 2007 on-stage Inprint interview conducted by Fran Fawcett Peterson.

FRAN: One of the themes that comes out in so much of your work and it was particularly evident in these two chapters, which you read, is the father-son relationship and the son trying to live up to the father’s expectations. Could you tell us a little more about that particular theme and where it comes from for you? Continue reading

Writers Gary Shteyngart and Tea Obreht inspire the aspiring

March 28, 2012, by

We talk about a lot of things in writing programs (dead grandmas, childhood traumas, broken hearts of every stripe) but we rarely talk about literary success. We rarely discuss the mechanics of publishing a book, how book deals are made and paid, how to market oneself as an emerging writer, or just the business world of publishing in general—which might be why, when one of us hears of the kind of early success met by Téa Obreht or of the early and then continued success met by Gary Shteyngart, we bristle. I’m about two months away from turning 30, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t partially disappointed that my first book won’t have come out in my twenties, as it did for both Obreht and Shteyngart, and legions of other writers whose youth is a cause célèbre. Continue reading