lily-hoang“I try to explain to my students that when writing magic, you have to ground the reader in elements of reality, ways for the reader to relate to and empathize with.” -Lily Hoang

Lily Hoang is a writer of experimental fiction. She has described her books as “Oulipian games,” named after Oulipo, a French literary movement that used constrained writing techniques. Her work continually subverts readers’ structural expectations.

Hoang’s first book, Parabola, weaves together photographs, mathematical formulas, and interactive IQ, personality, and psychological tests. It won the Chiasmus Press Un-Doing the Novel Contest. Her second book, Changing, borrows its structure from the I-Ching, and won the 2009 PEN/Beyond Margins Award.

Since receiving her MFA in prose writing from Notre Dame in 2006, Hoang has spent  time teaching at writing programs around the country, an experience which she says has drastically changed her approach to fiction: “To be completely honest, my writing has become much more conservative because of teaching. As I teach, I learn more about the ‘craft’ of fiction, which I had learned in MFA school but actively rebelled against. Now that I have to teach it, craft fails my writing, or, succeeds me, or, it secedes me.” [2014 interview, Black Warrior Review]. As one might guess from her word choice, Hoang hasn’t completely lost her taste for experimentation. Though she has recently completed a “domestic realist novel,” she’s now “eager to get back to magic, soon.” [2014 BWR].

Hoang currently teaches at New Mexico State University’s MFA program. She enjoys knitting, cooking, and going on long walks through the deserts surrounding Las Cruces. She has said she plans to work on a trilogy of fairy tale novels, but no word yet on how those are going.

She comes to Spokane Friday January 22nd at 7:30 to Aunties Bookstore as part of GetLit! and Inland Northwest Center for Writers Visiting Writers Series.

Hoang tweets, entertainingly, under the handle @camerainsecura, and years’ worth of her archived posts for the legendary, now defunct blog HTMLGIANT are available here.

by Andrew Moreno

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