Author explores racism, identity in Reading Series


Donald Quist spoke about his published work and his in-progress novel in Faculty Hall on Nov. 9. (Photo Courtesy of @murraystateenglish on Instagram)

MacKenzie Rogers, Staff Writer

The creative writing program hosted Forward INDIE Bronze Winner and International Book Award Finalist Donald Quist on Nov. 9 as the final Reading Series author of the semester.

Quist is the author of two essay collections, “Harbors,” and “To Those Bounded,” as well as a linked story collection, “For Other Ghosts.” His publications have appeared in North American Review, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus and Poets & Writers.

At the event, Quist read one of his fictional essays titled “Lalita Rattapong’s New Microwave” from his linked story collection, “For Other Ghosts,” and a nonfictional essay titled “Heathers” from his most recent essay publication, “To Those Bounded.”

The essay “Lalita Rattapong’s New Microwave” spoke of themes involving self-significance and reality, as the character discovers that her microwave can create time-space anomalies that leave her questioning her own life and its importance. In the essay “Heathers,” the themes of racism and conflict are shown as the character intervenes in a racism-fueled fight. Both essays hinted at the theme of self-importance, as both stories had characters who were unsure of the role they played in society and sought significance.

Quist currently is working on a new novel about a nonbinary character returning to the United States to attend their estranged sister’s wedding during the American Civil War. The official name and release date have yet to be released.

Carrie Jerrell, coordinator of the creative writing program, said the program was excited to host Quist as a part of the Reading Series.

“Donald is an accomplished fiction and nonfiction writer whose work explores racism, loneliness, globalization, identity and pop culture, all while also experimenting with form and genre,” Jerrell said. “He gave a wonderful talk about craft during his class visit and answered a lot of great student questions. I found both his class visit and his reading to be thought-provoking and inspiring, and I know other attendees did as well.”

In addition to the evening reading, Quist also gave a lecture to a nonfiction creative writing class.

Jerrell said the Reading Series would return for the spring semester but the dates have yet to be determined.

“We invite writers from various points in their careers from those who’ve just published their first book to those who’ve been publishing for decades and they represent the diversity of literature that’s being written today,” Jerrell said. “The series gives students majoring or just interested in creative writing the opportunity to learn from them in a classroom setting, and it provides the entire campus and the greater community a chance to meet and hear from some of the best writers of our day.”

For more information about the future Reading Series events, visit @murraystatecreativewriting on Instagram or the Murray State Creative Writing Program and Reading Series page on Facebook.