‘Fantastic Women’ marathon read promotes diversity in fiction writing

On Oct. 26, the first annual “Fantastic Women” marathon read was held in the Hoag Great Room on University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus. The event was put together by literature professor Dr. Andrea Perez Mukdsi.

“This event brought together the university community in a celebration of women writers from across the world,” Perez Mukdsi said. “In anticipation of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead, participants in ‘Fantastic Women’ took turns reading aloud from the work of sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction writers.”

The marathon lasted for 12 hours and was a part of UNG Reads, a campus wide initiative that celebrates the love for reading.

Perez Mukdsi put the event together to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity in literature, while also promoting female authors.

“I’m extremely pleased with the turnout for this event,” Perez Mukdsi said. “More than 70 people attended Daina Chaviano’s talk and the Marathon Read had over 275 attendees. From the surveys we collected, there were students from 37 different majors and six of the seven colleges at UNG were represented.”

UNG students listening to readings at the “Fantastic Women” marathon read. (Photo by Katiee McKinstry)

The process of putting the event together took over four months to organize, but Perez Mukdsi believes the work paid off in the end.

“It was totally worth it,” Perez Mukdsi said. “We had students, professors and authors reading in 10 languages short fiction by wonderful writers from the world. We had 350 participants and contributions in the form of audio and video from authors in Iran and Argentina.”

After Perez Mukdsi won the Presidential Award for excellence in teaching in the spring, she contacted Cuban author Daina Chaviano to study her works for a class about women writers.

“Part of the project was to teach a class on Women Writers of Short Stories in Spanish in the Fall of 2017,” Perez Mukdsi said. “We studied Chaviano’s fantastic stories in class, among others.”

The author, who participated in the Marathon, also gave a talk the night before and had a Q&A session with the UNG community. Chaviano read from her works at the event, and several of her works were read in English to different English classes.

The Spanish department passed out questionnaires during the event for students to fill out to gauge the audience’s knowledge about women in literature. Perez Mukdsi was surprised that a lot of students had not been to an event like this before.

“Many of [the students] approached me later to tell me that they enjoyed some of the stories so much that they looked up the authors and read more stories by them,” Perez Mukdsi said. “Questionnaire responses were very encouraging.”

There were several students who came from other UNG campuses and brought their families with them.

“[The students] were happy to see so much cultural diversity in Dahlonega,” Perez Mukdsi said.

  • Katiee McKinstry is an English major, Journalism minor, avid coffee drinker, and is probably listening to 90s' alternative music.

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