The John Oliver Killens Reading Series Presents Sophfronia Scott’s ‘Unforgivable Love: A Retelling of Dangerous Liaisons,‘ the reimagining of the French classic ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ set into 1940s Harlem
The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College welcomes acclaimed author Sophfronia Scott as part of the John Oliver Killens Reading Series on Thursday, November 9. Scott, who – for her first novel All I Need to Get By – was hailed by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as “potentially one of the best writers of her generation,” will be reading from her most recent work Unforgivable Love: A Retelling of Dangerous Liaisons.
Imagine the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses set into 1940s Harlem amidst the nascent civil rights movement, baseball and jazz – that is Unforgivable Love: A Retelling of Dangerous Liaisons. It’s the summer Jackie Robinson breaks baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering heat has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for breezier Westchester County. There, two schemers prowl the manicured gardens and fine old homes.
“I just thought: ‘Well, what if this decadent, beautiful story played out among the elite of Harlem?'” shared Scott in a recent NPR interview. “People who went to the fabulous night clubs and listened to all of the wonderful jazz. I kept thinking about people like Lena Horne and the beautiful gowns that she wore in those movies. I thought: Let’s tell that story that way.”
Unforgivable Love is the story of Heiress Mae Malveaux, who is attracting men like moths to a flame, and Valiant Jackson, who has wanted Mae for years. The door opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: Seduce virginal young Cecily – engaged to Mae’s ex-lover Frank Washington who values Cecily’s innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.
Scott published her debut novel All I Need to Get By in 2004. Since then, she has authored numerous short stories, essays and articles featured in the New York Times, Sleet Magazine, Oprah magazine and the Mid-American Review, among others. She also co-authored the groundbreaking cover story “Twentysomething,” the first study identifying the demographic group known as Generation X. Her next upcoming release is Love’s Long Line, a poignant collection of essays on faith, motherhood, race and the search for meaningful connection in an increasingly disconnected world, expected in February 2018.
The John Oliver Killens Reading Series, in honor of the writer, scholar, teacher and playwright who influenced some of the most popular and influential African-American writers working today, was launched in 2010 as a component of the John Oliver Killens Chair. As a testament to the legacy of the late author, who at the time of his death was writer-in-residence at Medgar Evers College, the series presents discussions and readings to offer a platform for established Black authors, poets and literary scholars, as well as newly discovered writers.
The John Oliver Killens Reading Series Presents Sophfronia Scott
When: Thursday, November 9, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: Medgar Evers College, Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, 1638 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11216
This event is free and open to the public. RSVPS are strongly recommended.