Jacinda Townsend, nationally acclaimed novelist, coming to Moton

Published 12:29 am Thursday, March 14, 2024

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Jacinda Townsend, a nationally acclaimed and award-winning novelist, whose work explores themes ranging from the lives of young Black women in 1950s Kentucky to the contemporary complexity of mother-children relationships under modern patriarchy, will speak at Longwood University later this month as part of the Longwood Authors Reading Series.

In a new partnership for the series, Townsend will read from her work on Wednesday, March 20, at 8 p.m. at the Robert Russa Moton Museum, located at 900 Griffin Boulevard, Farmville. The reading will be followed by a book signing and reception. 

The event, organized by the English and Modern Languages Department, and sponsored by the Longwood Arts Council and Academic Affairs, is free and open to the public.

About Jacinda Townsend and her books

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Townsend’s first novel, Saint Monkey, published by Norton in 2014, won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Historical Fiction. It was the honor book for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in 2015. This book explores the experiences of those living under 1950s era American segregation in a small-town undergoing the aftermath of a mysterious murder. 

Her second novel, Mother Country, published by Graywolf in 2022, won the Ernest Gaines Award in 2023 for Literary Excellence. This novel is also short-listed for both the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. Mother Country explores transnational motherhood and the complexity of mothers and children living under contemporary patriarchy. She has also written nonfiction pieces for both Al Jazeera and The White Review

Jacinda Townsend grew up in south central Kentucky, attending Harvard University at sixteen where she took her first creative writing class. Years later, she graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has taught widely, and is currently teaching at Brown University. Townsend also worked formerly as a broadcast journalist and antitrust lawyer. 

‘Hoping to broaden the reach’

“Jacinda Townsend is an incredibly fierce and talented writer, and we are so excited to welcome her to Farmville, especially as the first guest writer as we move the series to the Moton Museum,” Carroll-Hackett said. “We’re hoping to broaden the reach of the Authors Reading Series, making it a community event, and I’m confident that Jacinda’s writing will speak to both our students and to the members of our surrounding communities.”

The Longwood Authors Reading Series has, in the last few years, hosted other authors such as Sandras Cisneros, Brian Turner, Deborah Miranda, and Remica Bingham-Risher. The series provides an opportunity for Longwood students and the surrounding community to engage with authors of diverse backgrounds and experiences.