Marlon James and Avni Doshi Among Guest Writers to Headline MFA Summer Residency

Marlon James and Avni Doshi Among Guest Writers to Headline MFA Summer Residency

MFA guest writers Avni Doshi, Kathleen Clark, Shara McCallum, and Marlon James

(l-r): MFA guest writers Avni Doshi, Kathleen Clark, Shara McCallum, and Marlon James

Renowned authors and educators will take center stage as guest writers and speakers at the MFA in Creative Writing program’s virtual summer residency.

We are very gratified to give our students the chance to hear from world-renowned writers.

— Carol Ann Davis, Professor of English and Director of the MFA Program

Fairfield University’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program will welcome four lauded guest writers to their roster of keynote speakers this summer.

Hailed novelist and educator Marlon James (Black Leopard, Red Wolf; A Brief History of Seven Killings), prize-winning author Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar, Girl in White Cotton), poet Shara McCallum (No Ruined Stone, La historia es un cuarto/History is a Room), and playwright Kathleen Clark (Southern Comforts, Secrets of a Soccer Mom) will each give readings of their work and engage in dialogue with student writers during their intensive residency period of study that will be held virtually from July 16-24, 2021.

“We are very gratified to give our students the chance to hear from world-renowned writers,” said Carol Ann Davis, professor of English and director of the MFA program. “Not only reading their work but talking about the habits and practices that make the writing life. Guest writers add depth and dimension to the lessons that students are already experiencing during the residencies.”

Jamaican-born novelist and educator Marlon James' recent novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf — the first novel in his Dark Star trilogy — was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and was named one of The Washington Post’s 10 Best Books of 2019. His previous novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, The American Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for fiction. He is also the author of John Crow’s Devil and The Book of Night Women, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Avni Doshi, a New Jersey native who now lives in Dubai, was awarded the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize in 2013 and a Charles Pick Fellowship in 2014. Her writing has appeared in British VogueGranta, and The Sunday Times. Her first novel, Burnt Sugar, was originally released in India under the title Girl in White Cotton, where it won the 2021 Sushila Devi Award and was longlisted for the 2019 Tata First Novel Prize. Upon publication in the U.K., Burnt Sugar was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. In 2021, it was longlisted for the Women’s Prize. Named a 2020 Book of the Year by the The Guardian,The Economist, The Spectator, and NPR, it is being published in 23 languages.

Poet Shara McCallum, who served as the judge of the Fairfield Book Award, will read from her own work and present the Book Prize to alumna Victoria Buitron, whose A Body Across Hemispheres is the first nonfiction selection to win the prize. From Jamaica, and born to a Jamaican father and Venezuelan mother, McCallum is the author of six books published in the U.S. and U.K.

Guest faculty Kathleen Clark is an American playwright whose work has been performed Off Broadway and produced widely throughout the United States and Canada. Clark will co-lead a workshop with MFA faculty member Shelley Evans, and stage a performance of her recent work with professional actors, who will then engage in a talk back.

“I have learned that we are a really close-knit community that supports one another through difficulty,” Davis said about MFA program’s shift to Zoom over the last year. “The seriousness of the learning environment as we experienced it virtually spoke to student and faculty commitment to one another’s growth and flourishing.”

Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program is a two-year program that helps aspiring writers develop their literary voice, hone their craft, and make important connections that lead to publication. Students receive one-on-one mentorship from an award-winning faculty of published authors, and typically gather for nine-day residencies on Enders Island, a peaceful retreat off the coast of Connecticut. During each residency, students take part in a series of workshops, seminars, and lectures that provide a rigorous theoretical basis for writing, as well as practical, hands-on experience.

For more information, or to apply to the program, visit

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