Taymour Soomro

The Author is a Fraud: What Con Artists can Teach us about Writing

February 1, 12:00 PM

Presentation Details

Can we evaluate art apart from the art maker? What assumptions do we make about a writer from their text? What assumptions do we make about a text from its writer? Narratives about literary cons like JT Leroy, Rahila Khan, Yi-Fen Chou and Onoto Watana suggest that readers respond differently to a text depending on who the author is perceived to be and that authors with marginal identities are presumed to be authorities on those identities. Why might this be a bad idea for writers and readers? How might this authority function as a constraint? This lecture interrogates narratives about literary cons to examine authorship, authenticity and authority and ultimately places the onus on readers to read beyond stereotype.

About the Speaker

Taymour Soomro is a British Pakistani writer. He read law at Cambridge University and Stanford Law School and has an MA and a PhD in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker and the New York Times. He is the author of Other Names for Love, shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize and a Malala Book Club pick. He has published a textbook on law with Oxford University Press and is the co-editor, with Deepa Anappara, of the essay collection Letters to a Writer of Color. He has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Sozopol Fiction Seminars and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. He teaches at the Bennington Writing Seminars.