Igniting Change through Literature: Adriana DeNoble
Adriana DeNoble is an English Literature and Creative Writing student from New Jersey. She recently published a piece in Thought Catalog titled “The Reality of Racism in America.” An online magazine with over 30 million readers, Thought Catalog serves as a platform for emerging and seasoned writers to voice their thoughts and flourish creatively. At JCU, Adriana is the Copy Editor for the student newspaper, The Matthew.
What are the benefits of studying English Literature in this day and age?
I think literature has a very loud voice. This voice has a unique ability to ignite change, elicit questions, encourage unity, and even provide comfort to many people. Literature has been the mouthpiece for change and social movements for centuries, and I have always been fascinated by the relationship between literature and society. Something with that much power deserves to be studied.
What is your career goal?
My ultimate goal is to become a novelist, but I’m looking at my career path with an open mind. As long as I’m writing and as long as my voice is being heard, I think I should be very content. Two years ago I never would have imagined that I would be living in Italy, so I’m trusting the process.
What prompted you to write “The Reality of Racism in America?”
The story is only a slightly fictionalized version of what actually happened to me and what has happened to me for the majority of my life. Being American and being biracial means you’re going to get a lot of questions. I’m half Hispanic and half white, but I could never seem to find my place in either category. I found it ironic that a country made up of such diversity is the place where I’ve had to explain my skin color to people the most often. I thought, maybe if people like me read this, they’ll know that they belong somewhere.
You recently studied under novelist Rachel Sherman at Columbia University. How was your experience?
I took a Fiction Writing course, which was incredible. We worked through the first half of the novel I’m currently writing. Rachel Sherman and my peers gave me incredible, insightful feedback. It was a very open, welcoming environment and I received an amazing amount of encouragement. The most important lesson I learned was to trust yourself. Write down exactly how you feel. Write the truth and write your truth. The best fiction is made from reality. If what you write is honest, people will respond.
Any other advice for aspiring writers out there?
One thing I learned from Rachel Sherman that has really helped me develop my own voice is to keep a notebook with you and write down things you witness during your day that make you think a little harder than you usually would. Overhearing a conversation that made you question something, the way a building looks in a specific kind of lighting, the way you feel when you walk home by yourself. These are all “fiction-worthy” moments, as she called them. I believe there is a reason why we notice these things in particular, and it’s because they’re important.
Could you name 5 books that everyone should read and why?
As a writer, the first thing I look for when reading a new book is how beautifully it is written. The language of the novel is much more important to me than the plot is. Five novels that have beautiful, touching language are To the Light House by Virginia Woolf, Dance, Dance, Dance, by Haruki Murakami, Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and The Last Days of California by Mary Miller.
What was your biggest surprise in moving to Italy?
I had never been to Italy prior to moving here so I knew there would be a lot of new, unfamiliar things I would need to adjust to. Maybe the biggest surprise was how much history would be incorporated into my everyday life. Being from the US, we don’t get to see buildings that are thousands of years old. Back home people don’t casually point and say, “Hey, Adriana. You see that church? Yeah, some of Raphael’s paintings are in there.”