Kai Harris is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the English department at Santa Clara University and the author of What The Fireflies Knew, the first fiction title from Tiny Reparations Book. Kai 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. Her first short story, “The Waitress,” was published in 2017 in Rabble Lit, and was also featured as Longform’s “Fiction Pick of the Week.” Kai published an excerpt from her novel, What the Fireflies Knew in the Black Girlhood issue of Kweli Journal, and has since led several conversations on depictions of Black Girlhood in fiction. Kai’s short story, “While We Live,” won the Gwen Frostic Creative Writing Award in Graduate Fiction at her university in 2020, and was published in Guernica in 2021.
In addition to fiction, Kai published “The Reimagining and Reinvigorating of a Storied Past,” a peer-reviewed Killens Review article from the Proceedings of the 14th National Black Writers Conference in March 2018. In addition to presenting at this conference in 2017 and 2018, she also participated in the Mellon Emerging Scholars Conference in November, 2018, where she spoke on the topic “Listening for Voices Other Than Your Own: Building an Inclusive Workshop Space for Students.” Kai has published essays on allyship, work-life balance, and mental health awareness as a contributing writer at The Everygirl.
Kai was selected as a fellow in the Mellon Foundation Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctoral Career Diversity Summer Workshop in 2019, where she explored possibilities related to the Humanities. Kai is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and a proud VONA/Voices Alum. During her PhD, Kai was editor-in-chief of Third Coast Magazine, and was recognized in 2018 for academic excellence among underrepresented students through the John Orr Prize at Western Michigan University. Prior to graduation, she won All-University awards for Teaching Excellence and Creative Research. Since its publication on February 1st, Kai’s debut novel, What the Fireflies Knew has been named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Marie Claire, Buzzfeed, Essence, Ms. Magazine, NBCNews.com, Bookriot, Bookbub and more; and has been selected as a Marie Claire Book Club pick, featured as an add-on with Book of the Month, recognized as a 2023 Michigan Notable Book, longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award.