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War, Big Tech and Black Horror at SMC Literary Series

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By Lookout Staff

March 9, 2023 -- A rising Black author, an expert on "Tech Goliaths" and a top commander in the Gulf War are among the "noteworthy spectrum" of writers featured in Santa Monica College's (SMC) Literary Series this spring.

The free series will be held online as live virtual events via Zoom and includes readings and discussions by the writers.

The series kicks off Tuesday, March 21 at 11:15 a.m. with a reading by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, the New York Times–bestselling author of "Friday Black," a 2018 collection of "edgy, yet charming tales," event organizers said.

Author George Saunders said of the book, "These stories are an excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny, yet classical in the way they take on stubborn human problems.

"The wildly talented Adjei-Brenyah has made these edgy tales immensely charming via his resolute, heartful, immensely likable narrators, capable of seeing the world as blessed and cursed at once," Saunders said.

Adjei-Brenyah was the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and selected by author Colson Whitehead as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees.

His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Literary Hub, the Paris Review, Guernica and Longreads. He recently completed his debut novel "Chain-Gang All-Stars," which will be published by Penguin Random House this year.

The series continues Tuesday, April 4 at at 11:15 a.m. with "Monopoly Power, the Tech Goliaths, and Our Democracy," a talk by Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project.

A former policy advisor to the Senate Budget Committee, Stoller is the author of the 2020 book "Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy," which Business Insider called “one of the year’s best books on how to rethink capitalism and improve the economy.”

"His 2012 law review article on the foreclosure crisis, 'The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship,' predicted the rise of autocratic political forces, and his 2016 Atlantic article, 'How the Democrats Killed their Populist Soul,' helped inspire the new anti-monopoly movement," the American Economic Liberties Project website said.

Stoller made headlines when he told an interviewer in 2020 that U.S. presidents had allowed an “autocratic” system to form in which tech companies bought out their competitors and operated with little federal regulation.

“We have a centralized, autocratic internet because of policy choices that Bush, then Obama, then Trump made, which is to allow these companies to buy any competitor that they wanted, without any merger challenges, and refusing to regulate privacy and data, which further allowed them to roll up the advertising market,” Stoller said.

The series continues Friday, April 7 at 11:15 a.m. with "Navigating Real-Life Horrors Through Writing Horror," a reading by Award-winning author Tananarive Due, "a leading voice in Black speculative fiction for more than 20 years."

Due, who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA, is an executive producer on Shudder's groundbreaking documentary "Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror."

She has collaborated with her husband, Steven Barnes, on "A Small Town" for Season 2 of Jordan Peele’s "The Twilight Zone" and two segments of Shudder’s anthology film "Horror Noire."

They also co-wrote the upcoming Black Horror graphic novel "The Keeper" and co-host the podcast "Lifewriting: Write for Your Life!"

On Tuesday, April 25 at 11:15 a.m. Karen Tei Yamashita will read from her works, which include the award-winning novel "I Hotel" and seven other books.

Yamashita, whose parents were survivors of the Topaz internment camp during World War II, is professor emerita of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In 2021, Yamashita was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation. She is also the recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a U.S. Artists’ Ford Foundation Fellowship.

On Thursday, May 11 at 11:15 a.m. decorated combat veteran Douglas Macgregor, who served as senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense, will discuss the War in Ukraine and the U.S. Response.

His five books include two groundbreaking books on military transformation, "Breaking the Phalanx," published in 1997, and "Transformation under Fire" published in 2003.

Known for his leadership in the Gulf War's Battle of 73 Easting, the U.S. Army’s largest tank battle since World War II, Macgregor's "recommendations for change in Force Design have profoundly influenced force development in Israel, Russia, and China."

Macgregor has testified as an expert witness before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, and has appeared as a defense analyst on Fox News, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and public radio.

A Zoom link to each talk will be posted with the listing on the SMC Events calendar at shortly before the event begins. To attend the events, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

More information on the series is available by calling SMC’s Office of Public Programs at (310) 434-4100.

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