October 6, 2022

Lewis Center for the Arts presents a reading by Jamil Jan Kochai

The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University presents a reading by Jamil Jan Kochai, a PEN/Hemingway finalist and 2022-23 Hodder Fellow at Princeton. Kochai will read from his latest short story collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories, which was recently announced as a 2022 National Book Award finalist, one of five for fiction, followed by a conversation with Director of the Program in Creative Writing Yiyun Li. A book signing follows the conversation, and books will be available for purchase at the event. The reading, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Wallace Theater at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus. The Wallace Theater is an accessible venue. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

Called a “masterful storyteller” by Publishers Weekly and an “exciting and true voice” by New York Times Book Review, Kochai’s stories bring his contemporary Afghan characters to life, moving between modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in America, as his stories grapple with the ghosts of war and displacement—and one story that speaks to the immediate political landscape we reckon with today.

jamil kochai with dark hair and beard looks off to the left. He wears a dark shirt and jacket and stands outside by a wood fence

Jamil Jan Kochai. Photo credit: Jalil Kochai

Jamil Jan Kochai is the author of 99 Nights in Logar (Viking, 2019), a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He was born in an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, but he originally hails from Logar, Afghanistan. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Best American Short Stories 2021. His essays have been published in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Kochai was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a Truman Capote Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded the Henfield Prize for Fiction. His second book, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories (Viking) was published in July. Kirkus Reviews calls this collection of stories “A master class in storytelling, and a beautiful reflection on a people that have endured decades upon decades of tragedy. Stunning, compassionate, flawless.”

For the 2022-23 academic year, Kochai is one of five artists awarded a highly competitive Princeton Hodder Fellowship. Hodder Fellows are writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have, as the program outlines, “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.” Artists from anywhere may apply in mid-summer each year for the following academic year. Designed to provide fellows with the “studious leisure” to undertake significant new work, Kochai will spend his fellowship year working on his second novel.

Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about this event, fellowships at Princeton, and the more than 100 other performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, and lectures presented each year by the Lewis Center, most of them free.

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