An exploration of NYC and America in the burgeoning moments before the start of the Civil War through the eyes of a young biracial girl. In this one-time-only event, the winner of the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize converses with beloved fiction writer Meg Wolitzer.
In Moon and the Mars, set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City in the years 1857-1863, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of Theo from childhood to adolescence, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum's sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America's attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformationally—as the nation divides and marches to war.
As with her first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, which was praised by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Angela Y. Davis, among many others, Corthron's use of dialogue brings her characters to life in a way that only an award-winning playwright and scriptwriter can do. As Theo grows and attends school, her language and grammar change, as does her own vocabulary when she's with her Black or Irish families. It's an extraordinary feat and a revelation for the reader.
"Corthron, a true heir to James Baldwin, presents a startlingly original exposure of the complex roots of American racism." —Naomi Wallace, MacArthur "Genius" Playwriting Fellow and author of One Flea Spare
"Moon and the Mars, [Corthron's] latest masterpiece, is an absorbing story of family and community, of Africans and Irish, of settler and native, of slavery and abolition, of a city and a nation wracked by Civil War and racist violence, of love won and lost." —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Kia Corthron's debut work of fiction, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, was the winner of the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. She was the 2017 Bread Loaf Shane Stevens Fellow in the Novel. She is also a nationally and internationally produced playwright. For her body of work for the stage, she has garnered the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the Horton Foote Prize, the United States Artists Jane Addams Fellowship, the Flora Roberts Award, and others. She was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, and lives in Harlem, New York City.
Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Female Persuasion, The Interestings, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, and The Wife, which was made into a film starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Wolitzer, who was guest editor of The Best American Short Stories 2017, has also written fiction for young readers, including most recently To Night Owl from Dogfish, co-written with Holly Goldberg Sloan and the new picture book Millions of Maxes. She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton, where she co-directs BookEnds, a yearlong intensive in the novel.