Suspend Your Disbelief

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Book of the Week: Chronic City, by Jonathan Lethem

Chronic CityThis week’s feature is Jonathan Lethem’s most recent novel, Chronic City, published by Doubleday in 2009. Lethem is the author of seven other novels, three collections of stories, and two books of essays. He’s also contributed to dozens of edited anthologies, journals and magazines, and garnered numerous awards during his career, most notably a National Book Critic’s Circle award for Motherless Brooklyn in 1999 and a MacArthur Genius Award in 2005. He lives in Brooklyn and Maine with his third wife, filmmaker Amy Barrett, and their son. In 2009 he co-founded Red Gap Used Books in Blue Hill, Maine, with Marjorie Kernan and André Strong.

Though we typically focus on new titles for our Book-of-the-Week program, we thought we’d change things up this week in honor of Lethem’s spring visit to Ann Arbor as part of the University of Michigan’s Zell Visiting Writers Series. While in town, he sat down with contributor Roohi Choudhry for breakfast one morning. Of their conversation, Choudry writes:

Now here’s the rub: Jonathan Lethem has talked about everything. A quick Google search will reveal his patient and thoughtful responses to such varied interview questions as “…is relativism your philosophical stance?” and “Do you find incessant rain, like that which at the moment has us hiding and scurrying, defeating or oddly comforting?”

Despairing of finding an incisive question about his work that he has not already addressed somewhere online, I decided instead to follow up on tidbits he’d mentioned during his visit to our program, especially those I found of particular interest to us MFA-types. And also, as a displaced Brooklynite, I indulged in some banter about my favorite city in the world with the writer who captures it like no one else can. (Read on to find out how New York is akin to a “giant Ponzi scheme.”) Lethem is, after all, New York’s most notable exile.

To read this complete interview with Lethem, please click here.

Jonathan Lethem

  • Read Lethem’s “Procedure in Plain Air,” a story published by The New Yorker in 2009.
  • You can also read his essay on Philip K. Dick, entitled “You Don’t Know Dick,” published in Bookforum in 2002.
  • Check out Lethem’s website for more information, including upcoming author events.
  • You can also win one of three signed copies of this book, which we’ll be giving away next week to three of our Twitter followers.

To be eligible for this giveaway (and all future ones), simply click over to Twitter and “follow” us (@fictionwriters).

To all of you who are already fans, thank you!

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