Register now for the 42n Annual City Tech Literary Arts Festival Featuring Akwaeke Emezi!
April 27, 2023
4 to 6 pm
The New Academic Complex Theater at City Tech
285 Jay Street
Click Here to Register


To learn more about this year’s featured author, see LAF 2023 FEATURED WRITER: AKWAEKE EMEZI

Register now for the 41st Annual Literary Arts Festival featuring Layli Long Soldier!

Join City Tech student writers and the poet Layli Long Soldier to share ideas and creative work.

Thursday, March 24, 4:30 pm on ZOOM.

Free & Open to the Public


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Poster featuring a pathway into a small building built with books, plus information about the event.
Download this year’s poster, designed by City Tech student Evelyn Ng.

City Tech’s 41st Annual Literary Arts Festival
Featuring award-winning poet Layli Long Soldier, author of Whereas
and readings & performances by City Tech students

For more info: Megan Behrent
Sponsored by: Coordinated Undergraduate Education (CUE), City Tech
Student Government Association, New York City College of Technology

Literature Round Table: March 21, 11:30-12:45 p.m.

IMG_2862.JPGPlease join us for the Literature Round Table as students and faculty discuss the works of Mary Gaitskill. Classes throughout City Tech have been reading Gaitskill works including The Mare. “Lost Cat,” “The Other Place,” and “The Arms and Legs of the Lake.” Gaitskill has generously agreed to participate in “Five Questions with Mary Gaitskill.” Students will submit questions in advance. Her answers will be read out loud at the Roundtable. The Roundtable is organized by Professors Renata Ferdinand and Ruth Garcia.

LAF Literature Roundtable
March 21, 11:30-12:45 p.m.
Atrium Amphitheatre
Atrium Building, Ground floor
Free and open to City Tech students, staff, and faculty.

Mary Gaitskill Featured Artist at Literary Arts Festival 2016

Mary Gaitskill Photo: Derek Shapton
Mary Gaitskill Photo: Derek Shapton

Mary Gaitskill has written three books of short stories and three novels including the widely acclaimed Veronica and Bad Behavior. Her writing is recognized for its exacting prose style and sensitive explorations of human relationships and failings, with an eye toward physical interactions, violence, obsession, and desire. Her new novel, The Mare, explores contemporary class, race, and the complex politics of “giving” through the story of a young Dominican girl from Brooklyn who comes to live with a couple in upstate New York through the controversial Fresh Air Fund and how all of their lives are changed. She’ll read at our Literary Arts Festival on March 24, 2016. For more information on Mary Gaitskill, visit her Wikipedia page.

Tweeting #LAF15

If you have a Twitter account, please consider tweeting about your experience at tonight’s Literary Arts Festival. You can use the hashtag #LAF15, or #DinawMengestu more generally, or mention our Twitter handle, @CityTechLitFest. Not yet comfortable live-tweeting? Follow along by reading the #LAF15 tweets! Let’s share with the larger community the experience of participating in the Literary Arts Festival!

Did you hear? Dinaw Mengestu @ LAF!

The Literary Arts Festival is quickly approaching–soon we’ll get a countdown clock for the writing competition and for the festival itself. In canse you haven’t already heard, Dinaw Mengestu will be headlining this year’s festival!

Prof. Rob Ostrem, one of the Festival Directors, shares this extensive list of Mengestu’s writing:

Short Pieces

The Paper Revolution” (an excerpt from All Our Names), The New Yorker

An Honest Exit” (an excerpt How to Read the Air), The New Yorker

My Personal Greek Myth,” The Wall Street Journal

Addis Ababa, 1977”  Harpers  (only for those who subscribe)


All Our Names (2014)

“All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes
increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.”  (Amazon)

See also the New York Times review of All Our Names, by Malcolm Jones

How to Read the Air (2011)
From the Los Angeles Times

November 05, 2010 by Carolyn Kellogg

Book review: ‘How to Read the Air’ by Dinaw Mengestu

A narrator provides an intimate account of his immigrant parents’ journey in the U.S.

Dinaw Mengestu’s “How to Read the Air” opens audaciously — the unnamed narrator writes of his parents with impossible intimacy. He knows what his mother thinks as she stands before a mirror a year before he is born, what she hears in the middle of the night, what she feels when his father’s breath touches her neck. This is, of course, the project of fiction — the full imagining, the stretch of empathy — but it is notable that this story is not simply told, but told by her son.

That son, Jonas, is 30, trying to understand his own failed marriage through the lens of his parents’. He follows the path of a road trip they took through America’s heartland as recent African immigrants; his story and theirs alternate chapters. Always, though, it is clear that Jonas is doing the telling.

‘This is how I like to picture him, whether it’s accurate or not,” he imagines his father. “A man standing underneath, or perhaps even across from, a row of trees in search of a home on a summer night. If he was ever happy here, and I doubt he was, it would have been on that evening, which I’ve only just now invented for him…. Regardless, history sometimes deserves a little revision, if not for the sake of the dead then at least for ourselves.’”

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2008)

“The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, is the debut novel of Ethiopian author Dinaw Mengestu. Published in 2007 by the Penguin Group the novel focuses on the life of Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian immigrant living in Washington, D.C. after fleeing his country’s revolution seventeen years earlier. Running a failing grocery store he ruminates on the past as he faces his own inward crisis of displacement and identity while simultaneously marveling at the gentrification of his neighborhood. This book took close to four years to write and Mengestu spent the better part of a year reviewing it. The original version of this novel was published in the UK as “Children of the Revolution”. The name was changed by the publishers before being published in the US because they didn’t want the book to sound political.” (Wiki)