Kangkang Kovacs (M.F.A. ’23) • Mt. Pleasant, SC


Kangkang Kovacs (M.F.A. ’23) • Mt. Pleasant, SC

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Dorothea Benton Frank Fellow

A tomboy kid thumbing her nose at the gender norms in her hometown in southeast China, a doctoral student studying nuclear physics at the University of Virginia, a scientist teaching math and physics at UC Santa Barbara, a mother homeschooling 5-year-old twins during the pandemic: Kangkang Kovacs has been a lot of things over the years, but, at her core, she’s always been a writer. 

That’s what led her to the M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program at the College of Charleston, where she has been a Dorothea Benton Frank Fellow, a graduate research assistant for the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, a graduate assistant for swamp pink literary journal and an integral part of the program’s writing community. 

“This community of support is one of my most valuable takeaways from the program,” says Kovacs, noting the faculty in the program – including her advisor, English professor Anthony Varallo – enhanced her storytelling and encouraged her growth as a writer. “These brilliant writers and teachers inspired me to find my own voice.” 

It’s exactly what Kovacs needed to develop her thesis project into a novel – a multigenerational family saga following a Chinese grandma, mother and daughter. 

“Professor Varallo encouraged me to go with this particular topic, and to stumble down the path of an expansive novel,” she says. “He was like a window and a mirror at the same time, in the sense that he affirmed some of my choices and shined a new light on the others. My manuscript would not have been the same without his guidance.” 

Her career, it turns out, may not have been the same without that manuscript, which caught the eye of a William Morris Endeavor literary agent visiting campus for the Dorothea Benton Frank “Industry Talks” series last March. 

Before long, the agent offered her a contract with the agency – a gamechanger for both her career and her confidence. 

“It does mean a lot to have the affirmation from the outside world, to have an experienced agent see value in my writing,” says Kovacs.  

“I will always try to write from a place of truth, a place of genuine curiosity,” she adds. “I guess I’ll start from there and give it my best, one sentence at a time, page by page.”