The Literary Arts Series is a project designed to encourage intercultural understanding and literacy in the classroom and broader community. The series is coordinated by Dr. Jessica Datema, and Professor Brian Cordell of the Department of Composition and Literature is an associated member.

Each year, we select an individual author for study on the campus by students and colleagues, as well as friends from the larger community. We then invite an author to discuss their work with the audience at an annual speaking event. Pedagogical materials, including biographical information, reviews, excerpts, discussion questions, and other curriculum items are prepared and put up on our site. These materials are made available to support individual readers and teachers who use the author’s work in their classes as a part of varying curricula. We mentor many students who read and study the novels so that they will have the opportunity to speak about and to the author’s work. Our community of readers includes alumni, faculty, BCC students, the school of continuing education, library reading groups, high school students, and the public. We have never charged for the annual event and entry is free.

The original mission of the project was to establish a broad-based community of readers. This ambition was first conceived by a group of ambitious librarians in Seattle—which the English department here at BCC has been able to continue and extend. Since its inception, the series has welcomed famous authors including Joyce Carol Oates, James McBride, Salman Rushdie, Jennifer Egan, Mary Gaitskill, Joseph O’Neill, Junot Diaz, Martin Espada, and Jhumpa Lahiri. We have been very fortunate to include such an esteemed group of authors in our series.

It is our intention—via both emerging and established writers—to heal the growing alienation of society that comes from technology, illiteracy and capitalist compartmentalization with the human stories that connect us to this world.

The program has elevated the reputation of the college as well as levels of literacy at BCC. The Literary Arts Series aims to continue making the community and college a place where people become better “readers” as has been our tradition over the last several years. Raising the level of literacy may seem like a humble accomplishment, but we consider it invaluable and believe it will help shape the next generation of readers.

2024 Speaker: Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is our 2024 Literary Arts Series speaker. The event will be held on campus Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 1:30-3:00 p.m. All are welcome.
Walter Mosley profile pic

Mosley has written more than 60 books categorized as mystery, crime, science fiction, literary fiction, political, young adult, nonfiction, instructional, graphic novels, and erotica. He also won a 2001 Grammy for his contributions to Richard Pryor’s And It’s Deep Too. Mosley has also been an executive producer and writer for the TV series Snowfall. His screenplay was the basis for Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel Washington playing Easy Rawlins, adapted from his original best-selling mystery.

His honors include the 2020 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award, the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, and lifetime achievement awards from both PEN America and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. His short stories and op-ed essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesThe New YorkerGQEsquirePlayboy, and The Nation.


Why I Quit the Writers’ Room: The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democracy is silence them.
“The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democratic nation is to silence them. And the easiest way to silence a woman or a man is to threaten his or her livelihood. Let’s not accept the McCarthyism of secret condemnation. Instead let’s delve a little deeper, limiting the power that can be exerted over our citizens, their attempts to express their hearts and horrors, and their desire to speak their truths. Only this can open the dialogue of change.”

Walter Mosley on America’s Obsession with Crime
“Fiction, better than reality, gives us heroes who can’t let us down, who cannot be arrested, convicted, or vilified. Maybe these stories won’t be able to resolve our dilemmas in the real world, but they can offer escape through a fantasy where even a common everyday Joe (or Jane) can be saved. This salvation has always been our goal. Forgiveness for our sinful desires and secret trysts, for our failures and broken commandments, for our weakness beside the machine that covers the world with its cold, gray shadow.”

Book Excerpts

Fearless Jones
The Awkward Black Man
“People are so afraid of dying that they don’t even live the little bit of life they have.”
Farewell, Amethystine

Discussion Questions and Vocabulary

True Crime Discussion Questions
True Crime Vocabulary

Previous Speakers

Min Jin Lee

Helene Cooper

Brian Turner

Phil Klay

Claudia Rankine

John Findura

Michael Thomas

Ocean Vuong

Amitav Ghosh

Jamaal May

Terry Tempest Williams

Mary Ruefle

Colum McCann

Tracy K Smith

Mary Karr

Jennifer Egan

Wojahn and Vega

Mary Gaitskill

Joseph O’Neill

Junot Diaz

Salman Rushdie

Jhumpa Lahiri