The Power of Young-Adult Fiction: Celebrating COOL. AWKWARD. BLACK. with Desiree S. Evans

The Power of Young-Adult Fiction: Celebrating COOL. AWKWARD. BLACK. with Desiree S. Evans

January 14th 2023 | 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Young-Adult fiction remains the literary world’s fastest-growing market, and one of the most vibrant and diverse age categories in the industry. Join the Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters Writer-in-Residence Desiree S. Evans in celebrating the release of COOL. AWKWARD. BLACK., a new young-adult fiction anthology with stories challenging the concept of “the geek” and showcasing what it means to be both Black and nerdy! Desiree will discuss her contribution to this anthology, and talk about the important role YA writers have played in the diversity movement in children’s and teen’s literature. 

This event is free and open to all, and it will take place in the Bookshop! Readers of all ages are encouraged to come! Masks encouraged.

RSVP at the link below to let us know you’re coming, and don’t forget to order your copy of the anthology from Hub City!

RSVP Here!

About the Book

A girl who believes in UFOs; a boy who might have finally found his Prince Charming; a hopeful performer who dreams of being cast in her school’s production of The Sound of Music; a misunderstood magician (of sorts) with a power she doesn’t quite understand. These plotlines and many more compose the eclectic stories found within the pages of this dynamic, exciting, and expansive collection featuring exclusively Black characters. From contemporary to historical, fantasy to sci-fi, magical to realistic, this anthology has contributions from a powerhouse list of self-proclaimed Black geeks and bestselling, award-winning Black authors including Amerie, Kalynn Bayron, Terry J. Benton-Walker, Roseanne A. Brown, Elise Bryant, Tracy Deonn, Desiree S. Evans, Isaac Fitzsimons, Lamar Giles, Jordan Ifueko, Leah Johnson, Amanda Joy, Kwame Mbalia, Tochi Onyebuchi, Shari B. Pennant, K. Arsenault Rivera, Julian Winters, and Ibi Zoboi. Their stories celebrate and redefine the many facets of Blackness and geekiness—both in the real world and those imagined.

“This energetic compilation of narratives is a beautiful tribute to and for young people who often find themselves on the margins of their social settings…A fearless and satisfying collection of expansive stories.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Utilizing varying literary genres…the creators deftly interrogate issues of racism, homophobia and transphobia, and intimate partner violence, and depict everyday joys and pains of varied Black experiences.” –Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Desiree S. Evans writes fiction for children, teens, and adults. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming young-adult fiction anthology The Black Girl Survives in This One (Flatiron Books, 2024), and a contributor to the young-adult fiction anthologies Cool. Awkward. Black. (Penguin Teen, 2023) and Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA (Algonquin Young Readers, 2020). Desiree’s creative writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in literary journals such as Gulf Coast, The Offing, Nimrod Journal, and others. She is a 2020 winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant for children’s fiction awarded by the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books. Desiree is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and the Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin, where she received her MFA in fiction. 

Desiree is currently the Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters Writer-in-Residence through a collaborative fellowship program with the Chapman Cultural Center and the Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg, SC. Visit her on the web at, and on Instagram and Twitter: @literarydesiree.

Missed an event? Visit our YouTube channel here for event recordings from our virtual events and other fun recorded content!

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