E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Category: Published Work

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Terese Marie Mailhot, interviewed by Céillie Clark-Keane

The summer is winding down, but don’t despair––August’s Non-Fiction by Non-Men is a special one, once again featuring my former GrubStreet student, Céillie Clark-Keane, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with Terese Marie Mailhot! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on August 20, 2019.

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Heart Berries: A Memoir. Her book was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction and was selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club PiCCK for March/April 2018. Heart Berries was also listed as an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year, and was one of Harper’s Bazaar‘s Best Books of 2018. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, the Electra Quinney Award for Published Stories, a Clara Johnson Award, and she is also the recipient of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Céillie Clark-Keane. Céillie lives in Boston, where she currently works as a managing editor. She has a Master’s in English Literature from Northeastern University, and her work has been published by Ploughshares onlineElectric LiteratureBustle, and more.

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Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Malaka Gharib

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on July 17, 2019.

Photo credit: Andrew Castro

Malaka Gharib is a writer and artist and the author of the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream. She is also a journalist at NPR in Washington, and reports about global health and development. In her free time, she loves making mini zines, doodling, and leaving nice messages for people on the bus. See her work on her Instagram.

You can read an excerpt of I Was Their American Dream on The Nib.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Audrey Murray

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on June 28, 2019.

Audrey Murray is a redhead from Boston who moved to China and became a standup comedian. The co-founder of Kung Fu Komedy, Audrey was named the funniest person in Shanghai by City Weekend magazine. Audrey is a staff writer for Reductress.com and a regular contributor at Medium.com; her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, LitHubLARBThe GothamistPaste MagazineNarratively, China Economic Review, Nowness, Architizer, and on the wall of her dad’s office. Audrey has appeared on NPR and The Comedy Center: Live from the Table; the Lost in AmericaListen to This!, and Shanghai Comedy Corner podcasts; and on CNN, RTN, and ICS. She recently published her first memoir, Open Mic Night in Moscow. Follow her on Twitter at @ACMwrites.

Wellesley Writes It: Dr. Kwan Kew Lai

In my second interview since I started back editing for Wellesley Underground as their Wellesley Writes It editor, I corresponded with Dr. Kwan Kew Lai, Wellesley ’74 and author of Lest We Forget: One Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak.

Here’s the beginning of the interview:

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Kwan Kew Lai ’74, M.D., D.M.D., is an infectious disease specialist who has volunteered her medical services all over the world and the author of Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak. In 2004, after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, she spent three weeks in India, caring for survivors. She soon left her position as a full-time Professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center and created a half-time position as a clinician, dedicating the other half of her time to humanitarian work.

Since 2005, Lai has volunteered as a mentor to health workers addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi and has provided earthquake relief in Haiti and Nepal, hurricane relief in the Philippines and drought and famine relief in Kenya and the Somalian border. She has also worked with refugees of the Democratic Republic of Congo and internally displaced people in Libya during the Arab Spring and South Sudan after the civil war and treated Ebola patients in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Most recently, she served as a medical volunteer in the Syrian refugee camps in mainland Greece and in Moria refugee camp on Lesvos, Greece for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and the countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa and in the world’s biggest refugee camps for the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Lai has blogged extensively about her experiences.

Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Lai came to the United States after receiving a scholarship to attend Wellesley, where she studied molecular biology. “Without that open door I would not have gone on to become a doctor,” Lai wrote in her Doctors Without Borders bio

Lai has received numerous awards for her work, which include being a three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. In 2017, she was awarded Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award. In addition, Lai is the lead author of many publications and presentations. Her research has included HIV studies, infection control, hospital epidemiology, and antibiotic trials. She has served on many committees, task forces, and boards, including the Governor’s Advisory Board for the Elimination of Tuberculosis in Massachusetts. She is also an avid marathon runner and paints when she is inspired.

Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes it Series Editor, E.B. Bartels ’10, had the chance to converse with Lai via email about Lest We Forget and about her experiences at Wellesley and beyond. E.B. would also like to make note that Lai made time to answer these questions even while busy with her 45th Wellesley Reunion! 

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EB: How did Lest We Forget come about? What inspired you to write the book?

KKL: I first became aware of the Ebola outbreak in March of 2014, I began to follow it very closely. I read about Ebola when I was in my training as an infectious disease specialist. It is a deadly viral infection but it usually occurs in Africa and I knew that it would be unlikely for me to see a patient with this infection. In the summer of 2014 when WHO finally acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, the nightly TV images of people desperate to get into a hospital and bodies lying in the streets because they were too infectious to be touched, moved me. I knew I had to be in West Africa to volunteer.

I started blogging a few years ago when I went to volunteer to enable my family and close friends to keep abreast of my situation and so I did the same when I started volunteering in the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU). Deeper into my volunteering I was very moved by the courage and resilience of the patients and the dedication and dogged determination of the people who worked alongside me and who risked their lives working in the frontline. After my first stint in West Africa, I was interviewed by NPR international health correspondent, Nurith Aizenman, about my experience and she had urged me to write a book. I had thought about that as well before she brought it up but I was too taken up into my second stint of Ebola volunteer by then. When I was in Sierra Leone doing my second Ebola volunteering, I was also contacted by an agency who wanted to represent me with either writing a book or making a documentary. However just before I left for Sierra Leone, I signed with my first agent about my book on Africa which is about my experiences as a volunteered doctor in HIV/AIDS and my work in the refugee camps. I did not feel it was ethically right to deal with another agency. Nevertheless, writing a book about Ebola became more urgent, I wanted to write this in honor and memory of the people afflicted by Ebola and the frontline bola fighters who put their lives on the line. It took me awhile for me to convince my agent to present my book on Ebola first before my book on Africa.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!

 

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Mira Jacob

Shout out and major THANK YOU to Erin Greene who made this interview possible thanks to her CITYterm connections!

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on May 14, 2019.

Mira Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Her critically acclaimed novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and long-listed for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. Her writing and drawings have appeared in The New York TimesElectric LiteratureTin HouseLiterary HubGuernicaVogue, the Telegraph, and Buzzfeed, and she has a drawn column on Shondaland. She currently teaches at The New School, and she is a founding faculty member of the MFA Program at Randolph College. She is the co-founder of Pete’s Reading Series in Brooklyn, where she spent 13 years bringing literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to Williamsburg. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, documentary filmmaker Jed Rothstein, and their son.

“How I Stopped Being Afraid of My Own Brain” on Electric Lit

For the full piece, see it on Electric Literature.
Published on May 8, 2019.

My grandmother, Genevieve Beckers Bartels.

Writing nonfiction is always personal, in my opinion. You are putting your thoughts, feelings, and point of view out there, even if you are hiding behind the safety of research or criticism. This essay that I published today on Electric Literature is, at its core, a book review, but it is also the most personal thing I have published to date.

Thank you for reading it, and for your thoughtfulness and your care with this subject matter. A special thank you to my editor, Jess Zimmerman, who helped me so much with shaping this piece and clarifying my ideas, and, of course, thank you to my dad who helped me with this essay, and with so many other things, more than he realizes.

But if you only take one thing away from this piece, it better be that you need to go out and buy and read Marin Sardy‘s book The Edge of Every Day ASAP!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Grace Talusan

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on April 16, 2019.

Grace Talusan is author of the memoir The Body Papers, winner of the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for Nonfiction. She was born in the Philippines and came to the United States with her parents at age two. She has published essays, long form journalism, fiction, and book reviews in BrevityCreative NonfictionBoston MagazineThe Boston GlobeThe Rumpus, and many others. She has degrees in English from Tufts University and the University of California, Irvine. Her writing has been supported by the Fulbright, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and others. She teaches writing at Tufts University and GrubStreet, and in fall 2019, will be the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Maya Rao

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on March 26, 2019.

Maya Rao is a journalist and the author of Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks, and the Making of an Oil Frontier (PublicAffairs, April 2018). In addition, she is a staff writer at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Rao’s work has appeared in The AtlanticAwlPhiladelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle, and Longreadsamong others. You can follow her on Twitter at @Mrao_Strib.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Alanna Okun, interviewed by Céillie Clark-Keane

Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate your *~*love*~* of nonfiction today with the second Non-Fiction by Non-Men interview of 2019! This one also features one of my former GrubStreet students, Céillie Clark-Keane, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with Alanna Okun! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on February 14, 2019.

Alanna Okun is a writer, editor, and crafter living in New York. She is currently a deputy editor at Vox, and she has previously worked at Racked and Buzzfeed. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesBrooklyn MagazineApartment TherapyThe Billfold, NPR, Vogue Knitting, The Hairpin, and other places. She has appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America, as well as other local and national television and radio shows. Okun’s first book, The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater, was published by Flatiron Books in March 2018.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Céillie Clark-Keane. Céillie lives in Boston, where she she currently works as a managing editor. She has a Master’s in English Literature from Northeastern University, and her work has been published by Electric LiteratureBustleEntropyand more.

Wellesley Writes It: Dr. Crystal M. Fleming

In case you missed it, I am back editing for Wellesley Underground as their Wellesley Writes It editor. Check out my first piece since taking over the series: an interview with Dr. Crystal M. Fleming, Wellesley ’04 and author of How To Be Less Stupid About Race.

Here’s the beginning of the interview:

Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The RootBlack Agenda ReportVoxand Everyday Feminism, among others, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author ofResurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France, which was published by Temple University Press in 2017, and How To Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide, which was published this past fall by Beacon Press. Dr. Fleming is also writing a children’s book Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight Against Racism, to be published by Henry Holt in fall 2020.

Wellesley Underground Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Shelly Anand, and Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes It Series Editor, E.B. Bartels, had the opportunity to speak with Crystal about her new book, her evolving education around race and racism at Wellesley and Harvard, and her thoughts on the state of race and racism in the U.S., France, and the world.

Crystal: Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my book and to feature it on Wellesley Underground.

Shelly: We saw people talking about it on Twitter and both E.B. and I had a chance to read it over the holidays.

Crystal: Thank you for reading it!

E.B.: Of course! I am always excited to read a book by a fellow Wellesley alum.

Shelly: We were both interested in hearing about your process for how this book came about and when you realized that you wanted to write it. How did you make this book become a reality? What sparked the idea of I need to write a book about how people need to be less stupid about race?

Crystal: The short version is after the 2016 election I was feeling a lot of things: disbelief, despair, and anger, but also really motivated to write a book for the general public. My first book, Resurrecting Slavery, was an academic book, which was based on my dissertation. That came out in 2017. And while I was really happy with that professional milestone, I didn’t want to restrict my writing to a small group of academic specialists. So, I wanted to write something for a broader audience but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. Then, finally, the idea for How to Be Less Stupid About Race crystallized in the aftermath of the 2016 election. As you can tell from the title, it was really about me being fed up with a lot of the racial ignorance I saw across the political spectrum. After I came up with the title and the pitch, I found a literary agent (Michael Bourret of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret), wrote a chapter that spring, and then really completed the bulk of the writing between summer 2017 and early 2018.

Shelly: E.B. and I loved the book’s blend of your personal experiences, pop cultural references, and citations to academic works in sociology and critical race theory. How did you find the balance in what voice to use, as both an academic and a younger black woman on social media?

Crystal: That’s a good question.  I would say that blogging and social media really helped me bring together the academic topics with language that could, hopefully, reach more people. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to write clearly about my scholarly work and interests on social media, where millions of people have read my writing over the years. I wanted to write beyond an academic context so my blog was a space for me to reactivate my creative writing and to share some of my thinking in public and that was very different from strictly academic manuscripts. Once I started writing on my blog, and then eventually on Twitter, I developed a new way of distilling and explaining really complex ideas.

The great thing with social media is that people will tell you what they think about what you are writing. Sometimes folks will ask you: “What do you mean by that?” That helps with that distilling and clarifying. I started getting feedback from people and what I found was that a lot of people understood what I was saying, which was pretty reassuring.

Academics usually don’t receive any special training for writing in an accessible manner, so it took me a long time to develop that skill and find my own voice.  I really wish graduate schools and doctoral programs included more opportunities to learn to write clearly so that academics can broaden our teaching and impact, but instead we typically learn to write with a lot of jargon.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!

P.S. If you enjoy this conversation with Dr. Fleming and you live in the Boston area, be sure to come to her talk at Framingham State University at 4:30pm on Monday, February 4, 2019! I will be there!

AllisonandAJontheAT

Together hiking the Appalachian Trail from April to October, 2015!

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