This December, we are launching a new virtual event series at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Presented quarterly, these virtual “fireside chats” will feature a renowned Asian diasporic author in conversation with Jafreen Uddin, Executive Director of AAWW, sharing updates from the Workshop, and discussing AAWW from a writer’s perspective. This series will kick off with a conversation led by R. O. Kwon, activist, NEA Fellow, and bestselling author of The Incendiaries.
R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is published by Riverhead (US) and Virago/Little Brown (UK), and it is being translated into seven languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries received the Housatonic Book Award and was a finalist or nominated for seven other prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book and Los Angeles Times First Book Prize. Kwon was named one of four “writers to watch” by The New York Times, and her next novel, as well as an essay collection, are forthcoming. Kwon’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, NPR, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.
Jafreen Uddin is the Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She is the first woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1991. With over a decade of experience working in the public sector, she specializes in communications, education, and fundraising. She most recently served as Deputy Director of Development for Special Events with PEN America, managing a high-level portfolio of events and cultivation activities. Prior to joining PEN America, she helped oversee Executive Education as an Assistant Director with NYU’s Stern School of Business, developing and coordinating both degree and non-degree programming for cohorts of senior-level executives. She began her career with a nearly-eight-year stint at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where she helped create the infrastructure for the public programming calendar of events, and spent nearly three years managing an online Book Salon for Aslan Media, spotlighting writers and artists from the greater Middle East/South Asia region. She regularly volunteers her time with a number of local South Asian and Muslim organizations in New York City, including serving as Chairperson of the Columbia Muslim Alumni Association from 2011-2015 and as a current Board Member for Laal-NYC. She received her B.A. in political economics from Barnard College, Columbia University, and her M.A. in global history from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science.