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Guest Author:
Kai Harris

Kai Harris

Oct. 1, 2023

3:00 p.m.

At the Arts Building

301 E. 11th St.

FREE event - Donations are appreciated.

Kai will share her acclaimed book What the Fireflies Knew, a coming-of-age story about African-American sisters.


What the Fireflies Knew has been named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Marie Claire, Buzzfeed, Essence, Ms. Magazine,, Bookriot, Bookbub and more; and has been selected as a Marie Claire Book Club pick and featured as an add-on with Book of the Month.


About the Author


Kai Harris is the author of What The Fireflies Knew, the first fiction title from Tiny Reparations Book. A writer and educator from Detroit, Michigan, Harris uses her voice to uplift the Black community through realistic fiction centered on the Black experience. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Lit Hub, Kweli Journal, Longform, and the Killens Review, amongst others. In addition to fiction, Kai has published poetry, personal essays, and peer-reviewed academic articles on topics related to Black girlhood and womanhood, the slave narrative genre, motherhood, and Black identity. A graduate of Western Michigan University’s PhD program, Kai now lives in the Bay Area where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Santa Clara University.


About the Book What the Fireflies Knew


After her father dies of an overdose and the debts incurred from his addiction cause the loss of the family home in Detroit, almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) and her teenage sister, Nia, are sent by their overwhelmed mother to live with their estranged grandfather in Lansing. Over the course of a single, sweltering summer, KB attempts to get her bearings in a world that has turned upside down—a father who is labeled a fiend; a mother whose smile no longer reaches her eyes; a sister, once her best friend, who has crossed the threshold of adolescence and suddenly wants nothing to do with her; a grandfather who is grumpy and silent; the white kids across the street who are friendly, but only sometimes. And all of them are keeping secrets. Pinballing between resentment, abandonment, and loneliness, KB is forced to carve out a different identity for herself and find her own voice. As she examines the jagged pieces of her recently shattered world, she learns that while some truths cut deep, a new life—and a new KB—can be built from the shards.


Praise for What the Fireflies Knew


“Harris rewrites the coming-of-age story with Black girlhood at the center.”
—New York Times Book Review


“[A] sensitive, realistic portrait of a 10-year-old trying to understand her world in the wake of her father’s death. Sent to spend the summer with a grandfather she barely knows, she contends with her losses and fears while learning more about her family, finding her own voice in the process.”
—Washington Post


“[What the Fireflies Knew] is not an easy read. . .but it feels authentic, and does what good fiction does: take readers on a journey they otherwise wouldn’t travel.”
—Associated Press


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