The Chills at Will Podcast podcast

Episode 147 with Jonathan Escoffery, Master Builder of Suspense, Empathy, Aversion, and Keen Chronicler of Survival, Identity, and More in The Masterful Collection, If I Survive You

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Episode 147 Notes and Links to Jonathan Escoffery’s Work 


    On Episode 147 of The Chills at Will Podcast, Pete welcomes Jonathan Escoffery, and the two discuss, among other topics, Jonathan’s early relationship with language and literature, his initial interest in literature and viewing those works now as stereotypical and/or racist, his writing process and thoughts on varying points-of-view, the wild ride that has been recent weeks and months with the book receiving so many accolades, and themes of identity, race and racism, home, and of course, survival, in his linked story collection. 


    Jonathan Escoffery is the author of the linked story collection, If I Survive You, a National Book Award Nominee, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and an Indie National Bestseller. If I Survive You has been named a ‘best’ or ‘most anticipated’ book by Entertainment Weekly, Oprah Daily, Good Morning America online, Goodreads, BuzzFeed, Vulture, L.A. Times, Shondaland, TIME, The Root, Vanity Fair, Kirkus, The Millions, BET, O Quarterly Magazine, Real Simple, and elsewhere.

His stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Oprah Daily, Electric Literature, Zyzzyva, AGNI, Pleiades, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner, Passages North, and elsewhere.

    Jonathan has taught creative writing and seminars on the writer’s life at Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, the Center for Fiction, Tin House, Writers in Progress, and at GrubStreet in Boston, where, as former staff, he founded the Boston Writers of Color Group, which currently has more than 2,000 members. He is a 2021-2023 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Buy If I Survive You


Jonathan Escoffery's Website


“Jonathan Escoffery Has a Reality He’d Like to Share,” from The New York Times,” by Kate Dwyer, from Sept. 4, 2022, about If I Survive You




At about 5:15, Jonathan discusses what it has been like to be in the middle of so much praise and recognition for his linked short-story collection 


At about 7:00, Jonathan talks about “lots of love” coming from Miami, including from Books and Books


At about 7:50, Jonathan responds to Pete asking about his early relationship with language and literature


At about 10:10, Jonathan describes his parents’ influence on him and Jamaica’s influence on him


At about 12:00, Jonathan talks about Miami’s incredible richness of languages and English usages


At about 15:30, Jonathan highlights reading favorites from his childhood, as well as ideas of representation 


At about 19:20, Jonathan cites an example of limited representation and stereotypical and racist depictions of people of color in his childhood reading of “classics”


At about 22:40, Jonathan talks about How to Leave Hialeah and other works by Latinx writers and fellow second-generation writers for inspiration 


At about 24:30, Jonathan responds to Pete’s question about his preference for Baldwin’s fiction/nonfiction


At about 25:55, The two discuss ideas of revisionist and ignorant history and narratives


At about 26:30, Pete wonders about any “lightbulb moments” for Jonathan in his writing career 


At about 28:55, Jonathan reflects on the aftermath of some encouragement and “chas[ing] the good feeling” that came with accolades for his writing at Florida International University


At about 33:30, Jonathan shouts out John Dufresne and other formative and inspirational teachers


At about 34:30, Jonathan discusses how teaching has informed his writing and vice versa


At about 38:20, Jonathan homes in on his story collection’s eponymous story and talks about strategies 


At about 39:35, Jonathan talks about the contemporary writing that inspires and challenges him and that excites his students, including “Who Will Greet You at Home?,” Gabriela Garcia’s Women of Salt and Morgan Talty’s Night of the Living Rez, and Laura Warrell’s Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm 


At about 46:10, Jonathan discusses the rationale for and background of the format of his book, including a wide range of POVs


At about 48:50, Jonathan elaborates on the history and background of the story collection, including his thoughts on story order and the auction process for his book


At about 53:45, The two discuss the story “Flux” that begins the collection, focusing on its POV, its narrator, and ideas of identity 


At about 55:30, Jonathan expands on ideas of juxtaposition between brothers Trelawny and Delano, including in the ways in which their father sees them


At about 1:01:30, The two discuss the collection’s second story, and Jonathan responds to Pete’s question about getting into the father’s mindset


At about 1:07:50, Ideas of class presented in the book are discussed, and WATCH OUT FOR A PLOT SPOILER FROM THE SECOND STORY


At about 1:09:30, The two highlight themes of father-son relationships 


At about 1:10:40, Pete asks Jonathan about what he had to say in his book about survival, commercialism, and bureaucracies, as well as (un)ethical business practices


At about 1:16:00, Race and racism are highlighted, with a particular focus on the collection’s last story 


At about 1:22:00, The two reflect on a profound excerpt from the book that brings up ideas of perspective and family dynamics 


At about 1:25:00, Jonathan addresses the story collection’s title and the multiple meanings and how POV informs the writing 


At about 1:30:10, Jonathan talks about future projects and Pete compliments Jonathan’s website as Jonathan gives contact info

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    This is a passion project of mine, a DIY operation, and I’d love for your help in promoting what I’m convinced is a unique and spirited look at an often-ignored art form.

    The intro song for The Chills at Will Podcast is “Wind Down” (Instrumental Version), and the other song played on this episode was “Hoops” (Instrumental)” by Matt Weidauer, and both songs are used through

    Please tune in for Episode 148 with Chen Chen, who is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, and the forthcoming book of essays, In Cahoots with the Rabbit God. His debut book of poems, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. He teaches for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast. 

    The episode will air on October 21.

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