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All fiction is a lie, but Edward P. Jones’ 2003 novel, The Known World, is a particularly striking feat of fraudulence. Jones, the story goes, wanted to write a novel about slavery, and he dutifully picked up a stack of books on the subject. But ultimately he chucked the research and simply started writing. The resulting work, about the fate of a black-run plantation in antebellum Virginia, has such density of characterization that it feels not so much written as unearthed—Jones’ universe is so lived-in it evokes the detail and emotional pitch of the slave narratives he presumably didn’t bother reading. Jones is in the midst of a residency at George Washington University, and you needn’t be one of the thousand students who got a free copy of The Known World last December to attend tonight’s panel event, which joins Jones and four GW professors to discuss the novel—and perhaps distinguish its facts from fictions.
THE EVENT BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. AT THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY ALUMNI HOUSE, 1918 F ST. NW. $12. (800) 789-2611.