Gabriel Bump: The New Naturals (IN PERSON)
Writer Gabriel Bump, the Ernest J. Gaines Award-winning author of Everywhere You Don’t Belong, visits the American Writers Museum to read from and discuss his new book The New Naturals, a touching, timely novel—called a “tour de force” by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Libertie) and “wry and astonishing” by Publishers Weekly—about an attempt to found an underground Black utopia and the interwoven stories of those drawn to it. Bump is joined in conversation by author Adam Levin. Books will be available for purchase and Bump will sign them following the program.
This program is presented in conjunction with the AWM’s special exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, on display now. Your ticket to this program grants you full access to Dark Testament and all other AWM exhibits.
This is an in-person program at the American Writers Museum. This program will also be livestreamed, and you can register for the link to the online broadcast here.
More about The New Naturals:
An abandoned restaurant on a hill off the highway in Western Massachusetts doesn’t look like much. But to Rio, a young Black woman bereft after the loss of her newborn child, this hill becomes more than a safe haven—it becomes a place to start over. She convinces her husband to help her construct a society underground, somewhere safe, somewhere everyone can feel loved, wanted, and accepted, where the children learn actual history, where everyone has an equal shot.
She locates a Benefactor and soon their utopia begins to take shape. Two unhoused men hear about it and immediately begin their journey by bus from Chicago to get there. A young and disillusioned journalist stumbles upon it and wants in. And a former soccer player, having lost his footing in society, is persuaded to check it out too. But no matter how much these people all yearn for meaning and a sanctuary from the existential dread of life above the surface, what happens if this new society can’t actually work? What then?
From one of the most exciting new literary voices out there, The New Naturals is fresh and deeply perceptive, capturing the absurdity of life in the 21st century, for readers of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. In this remarkable feat of imagination, Bump shows us that, ultimately, it is our love for and connection to each other that will save us.
Praise for The New Naturals:
“A Blithedale Romance for the 21st century, only less naive and more complex. Race, class and gender collide in all the ways they do in the so-called real world. Bump’s prose is fresh and frequently surprising. This is funny, sad, sad-funny and funny-sad and just plain smart.”
—Percival Everett, author of Dr. No
“Brisk dialogue and flashes of mordant humor pay off, and Bump cannily grapples with such issues as gentrification, microaggressions, and environmental racism. This is a scalding study in human nature.”
“The New Naturals is a tragicomedy for our times, exploring that age-old question of how to connect with our fellow human beings and build community, even as the world makes increasingly less sense. A tour-de-force, full of heart and asking the big questions about life and the mind.”
—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie
“The New Naturals explores how grief can become aspiration, how aspiration can become wildness. Bump writes so tenderly about the human error endemic to man-made things—community, partnership, love.”
—Raven Leilani, author of Luster
About the authors:
GABRIEL BUMP grew up in South Shore, Chicago. He received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His debut novel, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and has won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Fiction, the Heartland Booksellers Award for Fiction, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s First Novelist Award. Bump teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ADAM LEVIN is the author of the novels The Instructions, Bubblegum, and Mount Chicago, as well as the story collection, Hot Pink. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Playboy. He has been a New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award winner, a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a National Jewish Book Award finalist. He lives in Chicago.