By Meleena Gil
Meet one of the Department of English and Comparative Literature’s newest faculty members, Gabriel Bump! Professor Bump grew up in South Shore Chicago and received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusets, Amherst. His debut novel Everywhere You Don’t Belong is currently being adapted for television and earned Bump the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Read on to get to know Professor Bump with us!
What about UNC are you most excited about?
“To work and write in beautiful North Carolina alongside my talented, compassionate, and fearless colleagues in the Creative Writing program and broader English Department. To join the lineage of authors and students who have called Chapel Hill home: Randall Kenan, Jenny Offill, Doris Betts, Thomas Wolfe, Walker Percy, Alan Shapiro, Marianne Gingher, on and on. I can’t believe my dumb luck. This is a special place overflowing with brilliance and kindness. Currently: Tyree Daye, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Daniel Wallace, Stephanie Elizando Griest, Michael Chitwood, Adam O’Fallon Price, Karen Tucker, Matt Randall O’Wain, Ross White, Bland Simpson, Michael McFee–these people aren’t messing around! I feel endless gratitude for Mary Floyd-Wilson and Elizabeth Engelhardt for bringing me into this formidable and wild bunch. I hope to make a permanent home here. Also, basketball. Go Heels.”
What is a project you’re currently working on?
“I’m adapting my novel for television. And fidgeting through some novels-in-progress.”
How has remote teaching/learning/researching changed your relationship with academia and how you approach your job?
“All of 2020 changed my relationship with academia and work and life. We made it through a horrible moment. A lot of people didn’t make it, or barely made it, or made it and lost loved ones, jobs, sanity. My responsibility in the classroom, as I understand it, is to help students appreciate life in all its complicated glory. Cherish it. Hold on and don’t let go. Sit in your backyard, stare at the birds, and write a short story about their home lives; their weddings, graduations, bickering, and divorces; that moment, years from now, when they run into each other at the bird feeder and apologize and hug, exchange an amiable peck on the cheek.
Teaching remotely last year made my responsibility in the classroom feel more acute and pressing.”
What is a literary work that you return to most often?
“I think about Ray by Barry Hannah a lot. Sula by Toni Morrison. Troubles by J.G. Farrell. Recently, There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights by Laura van den Berg, republished by local Bull City Press. The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford. Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. Drive to Survive, the Formula 1 docu series on Netflix. Okay. I’m rambling.”
What is a fun fact about you?
“I love books! Books are fun!”
We are so excited to welcome Prof. Bump to the ranks of talented ECL faculty!