Joshua Lukasik reviews the StoryWeek panel Turning Issues into Stories

Chicago Literati

Sitting onstage in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, the host, Johnny Temple, owner of Akashic Books, began the discussion by asking Marlon James and Bernice F. McFadden about the use of historical events in their recent novels. In the case of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, the event was the attempted assassination of Bob Marley, and of McFadden’s Gathering Of Waters, the event was the murder of Emmett Till.

It is difficult enough to write a fiction about imagined events, but to recreate a historical event is an intimidating task for a writer. This is why I loved the word ‘issue’ in the title. Everyone knows it’s common definition, but I prefer the archaic definition of ‘outflowing’. An issue or event cannot be simply captured or penned in, but that’s what a writer attempts to achieve.

Temple asked the authors if these events were central in the…

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