Justin Torres, assistant professor of English at UCLA, visited campus in March as the Trias Spring Weeklong Writer in Residence. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, The Washington Post, and Glimmer Train. His novel, We the Animals, has been translated into 15 languages.
A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Torres was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. He was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.
While on campus, Torres gave a reading from his novel, worked one-on-one with a handful of fiction students, visited classes for discussion and conducted a craft talk. The highlight of his week was working directly with students. “It was really rewarding to read their work,” he says.
Torres discussed the importance of a liberal arts education to a creative writer. “It keeps you alive and interested in the world. It teaches you how to be a good citizen, interested in culture, language and the humanities,” he says. “Every experience in every classroom, whatever course you’re taking, it all needs to make its way into your writing.”
We the Animals, an exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up through the experiences of three brothers, was adapted into a film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards. It is available to stream on Netflix.
The Trias Residency for Writers is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing, established through a generous bequest from Peter J. Trias ’70. Novelist Lidia Yuknavitch was recently announced as the year-long writer in residence for 2019-2020. For more information about Trias, visit https://www.hws.edu/trias/.