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Jess Row, photo by Sarah Shatz
Jess Row


NYS Writers Institute, February 10, 2015

4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Jess Row, author of an acclaimed new novel about a white man who undergoes “racial reassignment surgery” to become a black man, will read from his work at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 10, 2015 in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany uptown campus, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library on the uptown campus. The events are free and open to the public, and are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.


Jess Row’s
audacious first novel, Your Face in Mine (2014), is the tale of a young Jewish man, Martin Lipkin, who undergoes “racial reassignment surgery” because he believes that he is a black man trapped in a white man’s body.

The author, who describes himself as a “WASP” explained the impulse for his novel in a New York Times interview:  “I thought about all of the times I’ve felt drawn to a particular racial identity—  listening to hip-hop or reading books about Native American reservations or being in a Buddhist temple…. I wanted to imagine the most radical kind of integration… the kind you can’t undo.”

Your Face in MineIn a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “This furiously smart first novel opens up difficult conversations about race and identity…[and] takes readers on a zesty, twisty, sometimes uncomfortable ride.” Writing in Vanity Fair, Elissa Schappell called it, “a provocative and exhilaratingly bold examination of race in America,” and David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times said, “Your Face in Mine is flat-out brilliant… in the darkness and confusion of a conflicted consciousness, Row finds his most radical honesty and insight.” The novel was named a Best Book of 2014 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, and Booklist, and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice.

Your Face in Mine also received praise from a number of notable African-American novelists, including Martha Southgate who said, “In our time, when race is the most charged, complex (and perhaps most important) subject available for an American writer to take on, it is incredibly rare to encounter a book written by a white man that engages thoroughly, thoughtfully, and thrillingly with that very subject. This is a necessary book.” Novelist Victor LaValle said, “Jess Row is going to start a lot of fights with this book! A white writer tackling race and class this honestly, this fearlessly? Talk about a rarity. So it’s a relief that he’s also one of the smartest, most observant contemporary writers around. The book is beautiful and painful, often at the same time.”

Winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Pushcart Prize, and an NEA fellowship, Jess Row has twice been published in Best American Short Stories (2001 and 2003). His previous books include The Train To Lo Wu (2005), a collection of stories set principally in Hong Kong where he lived and taught in the late 1990s, and Nobody Ever Gets Lost (2010), a collection of stories about lives touched by the events of 9/11.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.