That should have been the end of it. An unexciting stop on an otherwise interesting journey. Unfortunately, I had not kept an eye on Ruby. While the rest of us had been gnawing fried bread and swatting flies, she had been chatting away with our hosts in a manner that was far too loose and animated to be strictly decent from a Kyrgyz perspective. They seemed taken with her — the man, his mother, his sisters, and his aunts. So taken that when we all stood up to go, they said she should stay.
We spoke for an hour or so on Friday, October 26, during Keene’s time as a Rea Visiting Writer at the University of Virginia. Three weeks earlier, Keene had been awarded a 2018 MacArthur “genius” grant, the latest in a long list of awards he has received. In 2016, Counternarratives won the American Book Award and Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, and earned the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses for the book’s UK publisher.