Shawn Stewart Ruff on Exploring Racism Through Fiction
From the Bookable Podcast with Author Amanda Stern
Bookable features established authors and emerging talent in conversation with host and author Amanda Stern, perhaps best known for creating the Happy Ending Music & Reading Series at New York’s famous Joe’s Pub and Symphony Space. With an immersive sound experience designed around each episode, Bookable takes you on an audio exploration of a book—usually new, sometimes classic and occasionally obscure but always worth knowing about.
We are all products of our environment. Who we are, and who we become in the world, is shaped by the places we were raised. In Shawn Stewart Ruff’s debut novel Finlater, a Cincinnati housing project takes center stage, acting as a springboard for every aspect of protagonist Cliffy Douglass’s young life. The book is fiction but draws closely from Ruff’s own childhood growing up Black in the 1970s. Moving and memorable, Finlater explores the overt racism that still plagues America. With a probing eye and tender touch Amanda explores Ruff’s world in this secret coming-of-age classic about changing demographics, interracial friendship, sexual orientation, and first love.
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Shawn Stewart Ruff is author of the novels GJS II (2016), Toss and Whirl and Pass (2010), Finlater (2008), winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Debut Fiction; and the novella One/10th (2013), the first of ten small entwined works inspired by W. E. B. DuBois’ The Talented Tenth. He is also the editor of the landmark anthology Go the Way Your Blood Beats (1996).