English students meet author Victor LaValle

By Rory O’Connor, Maria Gant and GIovanni Varela-Benitez

Science fiction and horror author Victor LaValle speaks to students in Bianca Martinez’s foundations of English II class.
Photo by Amory Perez-Juarez

On Tuesday morning, Bianca Martinez and her foundations of English II students met science fiction and horror author Victor Lavalle over Zoom. 

Martinez’s classes just finished reading Lavelle’s short story, “Recognition,” as a close to their unit on characterization and complex characters. The short story revolves around a narrator and Mirta. Throughout the story they develop a friendship, but the story ends with a plot twist: Marta isn’t alive during their final interaction.

This opportunity arose when Martinez’s students had strong reactions to the story.

“We had a lot of questions,” said sophomore Cemeria Conrad.

Conrad wanted to know more about the characters death.

Sophomore Malachi Coleman described the story as “crazy.” 

The enthusiasm pushed Martinez to reach out to the author himself to answer their questions.

“I actually just tweeted at him,” Martinez said, “he tweeted me back we started emailing and were able to set this up.”

Martinez said the majority of the famous authors in the horror genre are white males, which makes it harder for students of color to connect with them and share experiences

“Victor LaValle is an author of color,” Martinez said. “I thought it was important right? For us to interact with an author who wasn’t just a white male.” 

LaValle grew up in New York City. He moved around the city a lot and had a difficult home life. Martinez also saw that, as a way he could connect with her students. 

She believes it is important for students to see that they can achieve their goals, no matter their circumstances. 

“I just wanted them to see that this is like a real person,” she said, “and made them see that any opportunity is possible for them.” 

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