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Jess Row is the author of White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination, as well as the novel Your Face in Mine and the story collections The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost. His fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Granta, and Tin House, as well as three times in The Best American Short Stories; he’s received a Whiting Writers Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and NEA and Guggenheim fellowships, and was named a “Best Young American Novelist” by Granta in 2007. He lives in New York and teaches at the College of New Jersey, and is a senior dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen.
The Art of Cruelty was a real guidepost for this book in the sense of trying to make White Flights an enjoyable essay collection that has a kind of narrative and a throughline, as it’s encompassing all these very different texts and references and illusions. It’s a very meditative book, and that’s the kind of book I wanted to write.
A very little-known movie about gentrification, essentially, starring Beau Bridges. It’s set in Park Slope in the late 1960s, which at the time was the ghetto. And Beau Bridges is this white-suited kid from the Connecticut suburbs who comes in and on a whim buys a townhouse without realizing it has tenants and that he’s now become a landlord. This movie is such a revelatory look at gentrification and the role of the kind of white bohemian imagination in the black city.