The phrase “friend crush” was invented for Alice Sola Kim, a person both brilliant and kind, a person whom is a delight merely to watch, whether it’s her mind on the page or (if you are lucky) doing “Don’t Tell Mama” at karaoke. A recent winner of the Whiting Award for fiction, you can find her short fiction from Tin House to Lenny to The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. One favorite is Tin House’s “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying”—an unforgettable story about “some seriously dark fucking magic.”
How did you become the writer you are?
Immigration, loving the library more than home like the damaged baby nerd I was, science fiction, my friend Tony Tulathimutte recommending—when we were both 19 and in college together—that I take an intro fiction workshop because it was fun, and not being great shakes at much else.
What are you working on now? What is at stake?
I’m working on a novel, my first. One of the things it’s about is the fear of being found out, in all senses.
What is your proudest achievement? Your greatest challenge?
My proudest achievement was getting into college, first because it was the last time I could feel so simply, unvarnishedly proud of something, and second because it was the thing that catapulted me from one life, class, set of expectations to another as drastically as getting body-swapped.
What do you hope changes or improves in your field?
That whiteness gets defamiliarized and rather than being seen as the invisible and default is recognized as its own strange-ass thing, while what is so often considered too weird or particular or ethnic or not universal enough is acknowledged as depicting the conditions in which so many of us live and think and exist and should therefore be represented to a much greater degree in art. Also that books can be good and powerful and interesting and relevant to the current moment without having to be straightforwardly, cornily all about that fucking guy in the White House and his stable of Dick Tracy villains. That we please don’t let them turn us into bad writers.
What does Brooklyn mean to you?
Moving to Brooklyn changed my life almost as much as college did.
Who would you nominate for this list?
Two off the top of my head: Jenny Zhang, a sorceress possessed of the rare gift of being amazing at poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, whose story collection Sour Heart is coming out this year. And Jen Gann, doing important, good work as an editor at New York mag’s The Cut and who is a wonderful nonfiction and fiction writer as well.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.