Ben Bush is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching Writing Fellowship, and a 2017-2018 Fulbright Fellow to Bulgaria. He is currently managing editor at The Organist podcast from McSweeney’s / KCRW (NPR-LA) and teaches at the University of Iowa.
His fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, Yeti, and The Fanzine.
His non-fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Salon, Bookforum, The Believer, Flavorwire, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poets & Writers, San Francisco Chronicle, and Conversations with William T. Vollmann (University of Mississippi Press).
He has received a work-study scholarship from Key West Literary Seminars and a Sozopol Fiction Fellowship. He was a founding board member of the Center for Afrofuturist Studies.
I have a short story “Introverts” in the current issue of the The Iowa Review. Scenes in Baltimore and surroundings: in a social work office, a hipster banh mi shop, a jail parking lot, the suburbs, and a 10k race. It’s alongside work from T.C. Boyle and Margot Livesey—good company.
An interview I did with Louis Chude-Sokei has become a lushly produced episode of The Organist (from McSweeney’s / The Believer / KCRW). Per The Organist: “The Nigerian-Jamaican- American writer Louis Chude-Sokei on black cyborgs, black blackface, and the intersections of race, technology, and robotics.”
“A lot of the kinds of questions asked about artificial intelligence and robots: Can they think? Are they just mimics? Are they capable of original thought? Do they have souls? Can they have souls? These are the same questions that were asked about negro slaves.”
I just returned from my time in Bulgaria as a Sozopol Fiction Fellow. Along with author Angel Igov, I co-moderated a panel discussion “For the Editing: With Love and Fear” featuring the legendary Barbara Epler, head editor at New Directions; Anna Kelly, commissioning editor at HarperCollins (UK); Anne Meadows, commissioning editor at Granta and Portobello Books (UK); author Georgi Gospodinov; and Manol Peykov, editor at Janet 45, a Bulgarian literary publisher of beautifully designed books in the McSweeney’s mold.
With seminars held in a cliffside art gallery on the Black Sea and two days of readings and panel discussions inside a 24-hour bookstore in the Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, this was really one of the best run events I’ve ever attended. I was impressed by the kindness of our hosts, the talent of the Bulgarian writers, and the sense of community the program fostered. I particularly enjoyed a bilingual reading in Bulgarian and English in which fellows got to hear their work translated and read aloud by their peers. It was a genuine honor to be a part of all of this. Photos by, I think, Anthony Georgieff. To learn more visit the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation (EKF).
I wrote a piece for Salon about “The GOP’s mind-blowing gun-control hypocrisy: Americans have the right to bear arms — except at our debates!” It was interesting to talk to Republican party organizers and Tea Party advocates. Also, the specifics of bringing guns to the debates revealed plenty of other oddness.
I interviewed Camden Joy / Tom Adelman for Bookforum about narcocorridos, writing in persona, and rock managers beating people with sacks of quarters.
I interviewed T. Geronimo Johnson for Los Angeles Review of Books. In his novel Welcome to Braggsville, UC Berkeley students’ protest of a Civil War Reenactment leads to an accidental lynching. It’s a novel that’s funnier, weirder, and more multi-vocal than plot synopsis suggests. In our conversation, he discussed how the novel’s use of citation reflected the dissociative aspects of being black in academia.