Actors and authors come together for an evening of readings and conversation to celebrate the work of the visionary author whose Afrofuturistic feminist novels and short fiction have become even more poignant since her death. Her award-winning novels, including Parable of the Sower, Kindred, Dawn, and Wild Seed, have influenced a generation of writers. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon) will lead a discussion with authors N. K. Jemisin (How Long 'til Black Future Month?), Walter Mosley (The Awkward Black Man), and Imani Perry (Breathe: A Letter to My Sons); and actors Yetide Badaki (American Gods) and Adepero Oduye (When They See Us) will read selections from Butler's prolific body of work.
Produced in cooperation with Grand Central Publishing and Library of America.
Octavia E. Butler's books can be purchased from our friends at Strand Book Store. Receive 10% off your purchase with code SYMPHONYSPACE.
To Learn more about the artists,
Yetide Badaki is a Nigerian-born actress known for her appearances on Lost, Touch,Criminal Minds, The Falling Man, Sequestered, Masters of Sex, The Magicians and This Is Us. As a theater actress in Chicago, Badaki won acclaim for her performances at the Victory Gardens Theater and Steppenwolf. Her film credits include Cardinal X, A Chance of Rain, What We Found, and Run Fast. Yetide is also the award winning narrator of the sci-fi/fantasy novels Akata Witch & Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor. Badaki can currently be seen on the Starz fantasy drama American Gods.
Octavia E. Butler (1947 - 2006) was a renowned writer who received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels, including Wild Seed, Kindred, Fledgling, and Parable of the Sower, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and recently, a New York Times bestseller. Butler was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future. Sales of her books have increased enormously in recent years as the issues she addressed in her Afrofuturistic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant. The Library of America recently collected her short stories, two of her novels, and many of her essays in an anthology published in January of this year. She passed away on February 24, 2006.
N. K. Jemisin is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author whose works include the novels The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Killing Moon, The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky, and the short story collection How Long ’Til Black Future Month? Jemisin is the first author to win three consecutive Hugo Awards, as well as the Locus and Nebula awards. Her fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Weird Tales, WIRED, Helix, Strange Horizons, Popular Science, and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. Her most recent novel, The City We Became, Book One in The Great Cities Trilogy, was published in March 2020.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a Brooklyn-based playwright. His plays include Everybody and War, both of which were Pulitzer Prize finalists, Appropriate and An Octoroon, both of which were honored with OBIE Awards, Gloria, and Neighbors. A Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre, his most recent honors include the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright from London’s Evening Standard, a London Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwriting, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He is a Princeton alumnus from the Class of 2006, holds an M.F.A. in Performance Studies from NYU, and is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard. Having taught at NYU, Juilliard, and Hunter College, where he was director of the MFA Playwriting program, Jacobs-Jenkins now serves on the faculty at University of Texas-Austin.
Walter Mosley is the author of more than 60 critically acclaimed works of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and plays. His books have been translated into 25 languages, from his first novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, to his most recent short story collection, The Awkward Black Man. Several of his books have been adapted for film and television, including Devil in a Blue Dress; Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned; and the forthcoming Apple TV+ production of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. His work has been published in numerous periodicals, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Nation. He is also a writer and an executive producer on the John Singleton FX series Snowfall. Mosley is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, The Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award, a Grammy, several NAACP Image awards, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2020 he was named the recipient of the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and was awarded the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award from the National Book Foundation.
Adepero Oduye, who gave a breakout performance as the star of Dee Rees’ Pariah, hails from Brooklyn, New York, by way of Nigeria and is a Cornell University graduate. Her film credits include The Big Short and Twelve Years a Slave. Theater credits include Mfoniso Udofia's Her Portmanteau at The New York Theater Workshop and The Trip to Bountiful on Broadway. Most recently, Oduye appeared in Ava Duvernay's When They See Us for Netflix and Hulu's Monsterland. Upcoming projects include Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Disney+. To Be Free, her second short film as director and writer, was recently added into the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's permanent collection. The short film stars Ms. Oduye as Nina Simone.
Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and a faculty associate with the Programs in Law and Public Affairs, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Jazz Studies. She is the author of Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation; More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States; Breathe: A Letter to My Sons; Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, which received the Pen Bograd-Weld Award for Biography, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, and was named a 2018 notable book by The New York Times and an honor book by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, which won the 2019 American Studies Association John Hope Franklin Book Award, the Hurston Wright Award for Nonfiction, and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in Nonfiction. Her most recent work, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, was a finalist for the 2020 Chautauqua Prize and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.