In case you don’t know, Hanif Abdurraqib was one of the most talked about writers of 2018. He also happens to be taking 2019 by storm. You’ve probably seen his collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, all over the place! It was voted “A Best Book of 2017” by NPR, Buzzfeed, and a dozen other sources.
Wash U is also a fan considering the English Department invited him to be a Visiting Writer this year! Every few weeks, a great writer graces Wash U’s Hurst Lounge with their presence, reads some of their past, present, and soon-to-be-published works, and hosts a Q&A. I have been waiting months for Addurraqib’s reading. They Can’t Kill Us is one of my favorite books of all time!
On January 24th, Hurst Lounge was overflowing with students, and not the just the English majors attending for class credit. Every seat was full, and students shared chairs and found spots on the floor to be in the room. Abdurraqib read a chapter from They Can’t Kill Us, a few pages of an unpublished piece he’s working on (one of the most beautifully orchestrated works of interwoven storytelling I’ve ever witnessed), and a bit from his recently released book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest.
Afterwards, he answered questions, even staying late to catch all of them. Let me just say, hearing one of my favorite authors rant about the rise and fall of Fall Out Boy and marvel at the beautiful, nuanced evolution of Black performance is one of the GREATEST moments. I cannot wait to see what else Wash U’s Visiting Writers series has in store!