PhD Alums Claire Stanford and Lilly Lu Discuss Academia and Fiction Writing

August 16, 2023

During my years-long PhD program in English literature, I barely read for fun. The summer after I graduated, I found an ironic cure for my pleasure reading rut: fiction books about academia. Whether it was to reflect upon and process the last six years, or to commemorate the end of a huge life chapter, I read these books voraciously: R.F. Kuang’s Babel, Elaine Hsieh Chou’s Disorientation, Claire Stanford’s Happy for You. I realized that all of them were about being Asian in the Humanities, specifically.

A year later, I am still thinking about these books, and I got to speak with my friend and fellow UCLA alumna Claire Stanford about fiction writing, academia, and her poignant prose. Claire’s book, Happy for You, was published by Viking in 2022, and was named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She holds a PhD in English from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, and she is currently an assistant professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Read the interview.