Your debut short story collection won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and has gotten tremendous reviews. What's it been like to have your book received in this way?
All I expected were a few mixed reviews and few people non-committally checking the book out. I didn't at all expect the PEN, even after being listed as a finalist. It's been weird, but a good sort of weird. To my students I'm still the guy who makes bad jokes and yells at them about their commas. It doesn't help the writing though. Perhaps it's even a slight negative. I find I'm harder on myself for bad sentences and bad writing days, which are frequent.
In your interview with The Rumpus, you mention that you want people to experience Insurrections "on a visceral level as well as an intellectual level." How do you address these concerns while you're writing?
As a human being and as a writer I try to make sure that something is always on my mind, that I have some awareness of what's going out in the world so those concerns naturally find themselves reflected in my work. It's important that my sentences work on a rhythmic level. And then there is a close attention to sensory details.
What can people expect from your reading?
Some laughs and some tears.