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Writing Fiction for Social Justice with Ruth Mukwana

2 October 2023

Can fiction change the world? Is it the role of fiction to change the world? On my podcast, SAHA (Stories and Humanitarian Action), I ask writers and humanitarian practitioners whether fiction can raise awareness on the causes and consequences of humanitarian crises and motivate prosocial action. My guests have told me that fiction creates empathy and compassion, connection, dismantles prejudice and stereotypes, gives us pleasure, has healing power, raises our consciousness as a society, makes us better people, tells us the truth, enables us to change perspectives, has the power to create transformation, and above all, fiction makes us curious, question, gives us the imaginative power that is needed to understand our opponents and engage with them. Research on the uses of fiction has come up with similar findings. Chinua Achebe once said: “Art is, and always was, at the service of man.” Our ancestors created their myths and told their stories for a human purpose. Any good story, any good novel, should have a message, should have a purpose. I am among those writers who believe that our stories should serve a purpose.

Course outline

In this eight-week workshop, we’ll explore how to write fiction for social justice. The workshop is appropriate for all levels of writers and will follow the MFA/MA in Creative Writing Model. During the first four classes, we’ll review fiction stories and excerpts from novels that deal with social justice issues and discuss questions of craft with dedicated time for writing with writing prompts. In the last four classes, we will have workshops to discuss your work shared advanced of class.

Books and short stories we will read:

  • Excerpts from Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • “Boys Town” in You Think That’s Bad by Jim Shephard
  • “Black-Eyed Women” by Viet Thanh Nguyen in The Refugees
  • “My Parent’s Bedroom” in Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan


Once a week from 2 October to 20 November 2023 (8 sessions)

Click here for all the information.


Online via Zoom


The Center for Fiction
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