Sunday, April 23, 2017


Hannah Lillith Assadi received her MFA in fiction from the Columbia University School of the Arts. She also attended Columbia University for her bachelor's where she received the Philolexian Prize for her poetry and fiction and graduated summa cum laude. She was raised in Arizona and now lives in Brooklyn.

Assadi applied the Page 69 Test to Sonora, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
…sheets and rise up as the night gave way to the dawn. I first understood why Christians prayed for a savior in the form of a beautiful man. He had absolved me of the blue-streaked blond.

It was all so foolish then, as it is now, as it is forever. To be in love with beauty. To try to hold on to it.

Soon after we finished, I said, “I feel so at home.”

He never answered me. He was already asleep.

Eli did not call the next day. Eli was not at school the day after that. I yearned to tell Laura what had happened, to scream it to the entire school, but Laura did not appear at the bleachers after third period, at the library, or at the window at lunch. I waited for Eli in the lot where he usually parked his jeep. I sat there until nightfall when a janitor told me it was time to go. On Tuesday, there was a crackle from the intercom right after we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. We could hear the principal coughing, the muffled sound of a suppressed sob. Everyone shuffled their papers. The teacher excused herself to the bathroom. Moments later, we heard the principal’s voice again, restrained, but clear. “Yesterday morning, students…” he began.

An early morning April storm caused a flash flood that cascaded down from the mountains, filling the washes with rain. Eli lost his footing. He was caught, bones shattered, in the arms of saguaro cactus thirty feet below. He was in a coma.
It’s hard to believe that page 69 of my novel Sonora which narrates a lonely sex scene culminating in a death might have a humorous anecdote attached to it but it does! At my book launch in my hometown in Arizona, my high school sweetheart showed up unannounced and afterward when we were talking asked me if there was any character in the book that resembled him. I told him that there was the faintest glimmer of him in one of the characters named Eli. He asked me what page he should turn to to find the juiciest scenes with said character, and when I looked, to my horror, the bulk of his action happened to fall on pages 68-69. He laughed at this, asking if the characters have sex on page 69, which they do. He didn’t realize at the time that the character Eli also falls into a coma which will lead to his death on page 69. Only later did he call and say: “I can’t believe you killed me off!”

Since a lot of this book resolves around loss I would say that this page passes the test. But for me it will forever be associated with my high school sweetheart’s face cracking up that the page he happened to appear on was none else than page 69.
Visit Hannah Lillith Assadi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue