For this week’s “Rad Women reading Rad American Women,” we had the pleasure of filming Namwali Serpell, a recent Caine Prize winner and English associate professor at UC Berkeley reading “Z is for Zora” at the City Lights offices. Namwali shares her love for Zora Neale Hurston’s use of language and leaves us with advice to “be exactly the rad woman you already are.”
This is the next installment in the video series from City Lights where we ask women we admire to read their favorite entry of our New York Times-bestselling children’s book, Rad American Women A-Z, and answer some questions about what it means to be a rad woman today. The book is authored by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl and published by City Lights/Sister Spit.
Namwali Serpell was born in Zambia in 1980 and now lives in California, where she is associate professor of English at UC Berkeley. Her creative writing has been featured in Tin House, n + 1, McSweeney’s, The Believer, San Francisco Chronicle and The Guardian. In 2011, Serpell received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers and, in 2014, was selected as one of the Africa 39, a Hay Festival Project to identify the 39 best African writers under 40. Serpell’s first published short story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009, and anthologized in The Uncanny Reader. She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing for “Muzungu” in 2010 and won the Caine Prize for her story “The Sack” in 2015.