Reading Deanna Fei’s debut novel, A Thread of Sky, rescued Kate Levin from a giant post-MFA funk. In this conversation with Levin, Fei discusses the role cultural identity plays in a writer’s persona and work, the value of unknowability, the secret to writing great sex scenes, the reason she watches Jersey Shoreand more.
Adam Haslett’s 2002 story collection, You Are Not a Stranger Here, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. His first novel, Union Atlantic, which focuses in part on unregulated trading, unethical banking, and the prospect of a massive economic collapse, was published this spring by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. Kate Levin talks with the author about fiction meeting reality, the psychology of power, the responsibility of writers to capture the social and political context of an era, and exposing ourselves in our characters.
Donald Ray Pollock, author of the 2008 collection Knockemstiff, left high school at seventeen to work at a meatpacking plant. A year later, he landed a union job at the Mead Paper Mill in Chillicothe, where he worked for the next thirty-two years. He didn’t start writing until his forties, and even then he kept his day job—writing mornings, nights, and weekends. Lydia Fitzpatrick and Kate Levin talk with the author about coming to writing late, getting an MFA, and making disreputable characters empathetic.
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