Keene State College alumni 11’ and author E.G. Condé paid a visit to his old stomping grounds on Tuesday, Sept. 5th to speak about his recently published debut novella.
The event Tuesday’s reading and speaking engagement was dually sponsored by Keene State College’s Women and Gender Studies Department, as well Keene State College’s Center of Research and Writing.
Speaking to an audience of nearly 100 students, faculty members, community members and alumni in the Mabel Brown Room, Condé gave a brief reading from his new novella “Sordidez,” a climate fiction story set in a not-so-distant futuristic Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of a devastating and apocalyptic hurricane. Condé spoke about how “Sordidez” came to be, during a question and answer period that followed his reading.
Jackson Caffrey attended the reading and said, “E.G. Condé’s reading of “Sordidez” was incredible from start to finish. I hadn’t been entirely sure of what I was getting into prior to the event, as I attended the reading with the rest of my creative writing class on a bit of a whim, but I was blown away by Condé’s presentation and by the writing itself. Furthermore, I was introduced to the “cli-fi” genre,.”
Condé said the novella was based on a natural disaster that hit his family’s home country. “ ““Sordidez” was for me, directly inspired by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and the trauma that many Puerto Ricans, both on the island, and like myself in the diaspora, faced and experienced in the aftermath of this hurricane,” Condé said. “It was a very scary time for my family, and there were days where I had no idea where they were, or if they were alive. For many Puerto Ricans, it was like living through the apocalypse.”
Condé said the novella addresses themes of apocalyptic disasters in a “place-based” way, differing from the status quo of global destruction narratives that dominate the apocalyptic genre.
“What I’m offering with this book, that I think is different from the overall, post-apocalyptic genre, is a place-based story that’s not only about the apocalypse, but also rebuilding from the apocalypse,” says Conde.
Condé added “The title is a misnomer, because sordidez is a Spanish word for “ruin”, while the story is more about rebuilding, and reclaiming indigeneity, and in a Puerto Rican context, that means saying you’re Taino, an indigenous group that is said to be extinct, and what it means to write from this place of being extinct, which is the central theme of this novella.”
Condé’, who graduated with an individualized major in Feminist Anthropology, studied under Dr. Patricia Pedroza Gonzalez, chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies department “Since we are a small program with budget constraints, I try to search for outside sources of money to fund events that the Women’s and Gender Studies program does,” Gonzalez “Currently, we are sponsored by Fidelity Charitable, an organization that is interested in women’s rights, LGBTQ+ conversations, and feminist conversations.”
Dr. Katherine Tirabassi of the Center of Research and Writing said Condé’s book inspired herself as well as students on campus. “I have taught courses myself in creative nonfiction, and those are the courses that E.G. Conde took it when he was a Keene State student,” Tirabassi said. “I’ve had some Alumni and current students who came to the express interest in reading the novella, and I’m interested in possibly organizing an informal book club at some point.”
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