Dexter Gabriel Interviewed by UConn Magazine

Dexter Gabriel, History Department, University of ConnecticutUConn History Professor Dexter Gabriel is also known as speculative fiction author P. Djèlí Clark.  How does a scholar of slavery and emancipation pen novelettes, short stories, and novellas? How did his academic path led to a double career in fiction writing?  Explaining to writer Christine Buckley in “The Secret Life of Dexter Gabriel – aka P. Djèlí Clark,” Gabriel explains that speculation is the bridge between the two worlds. “I was just immersed in the things historians think about, and it came out on the other side. In history we speculate when we don’t know things,” he elaborated. 

His pen name P. Djèlí Clark blends family history, perhaps an ode to how Gabriel merges the worlds of science fiction and history in his writing. Although writing outside of the academy is usually a cautionary tale for academics, Gabriel has disrupted the boundaries between the separation of “academy and public.” As his identity as a Black man, immigrant, and a first generation college student informed how much he would self-present as a fiction writer and academic, Gabriel continued to teach by day and write fiction by night, often accompanied by a 2 a.m. late night coffee. His latest work, Ring Shout, blends fiction and historical realities as it traces a band of resistance fighters who combat white supremacist demons in the early 20th century. 

UConn Magazine carefully details Dexter Gabriel’s “travels” between fiction writing and academia. For more on P. Djèlí Clark’s work, please see: