Susan Cheever photographed by Michael Falco
The Pilgrims may have been brave. According to Susan Cheever, they were definitely drunk.
“The Pilgrims landed the Mayflower at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on a cold November day in 1620 because they were running out of beer,” Cheever writes in Drinking in America: Our Secret History. “Their legal charter from King James was for a grant of land in Northern Virginia, but instead they anchored illegally and carved their first community from the sand, laying the foundation of ...
Paul Theroux photographed by Mifflin Harcourt
“What is very powerful in my mind is how much poverty in one country resembles poverty in another country,” says acclaimed novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux. “Disenfranchised people, people with no work, people with no hope, and also how exploited the poor are at times, and how abandoned they’ve been by the powers that be, by companies, by the government.”
The number of books to Theroux’s credit (Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories; The Lower River, etc.) is very ...
Lori Ostlund photographed by Dennis Hearne
Lori Ostlund doesn’t need to know authors’ lives to appreciate their fiction—but it won’t stop her from wondering.
“I don’t know that I want to know [their biography] beforehand,” Ostlund says, “but as I’m reading I might go to Google and wonder if they lived in a certain setting, what’s this about, what’s that about? Oh, I wonder.”
You don’t need to know Ostlund’s origins to appreciate the keen realism and legato prose of After the Parade ...
Carolyn Mackler photographed by Sarah Toretta
“What I love about saga novels is you can really sink your teeth into the characters,” says bestselling, award-winning YA author Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Printz Honor 2004; etc.). “I love being in this alternate world, feeling that emotional heft. It’s transcendent for me.”
Mackler’s latest novel, Infinite in Between (13 & up), chronicles four eventful years in the lives of five students at Hankinson High School in New York state ...
David Lagercrantz photographed by Magnus Liam Karlsson.
To call David Lagercrantz a Lisbeth Salander “fan” would be an understatement.
“I’ve been obsessed, really,” Lagercrantz says of Stieg Larsson’s famous punk superhacker. “The genius of her is so fascinating, of course, but also the mythology: the girl against the world, the girl the world treated so exceptionally badly but she refused to be a victim....She’s a new crusader, of sorts, and I think she’s absolutely fantastic.”
Lagercrantz is the Swedish journalist and bestselling author (I ...
Susan Barker photographed by Derek Anson.
It’s not your typical love letter:
“Every night I wake from dreaming. Memory squeezing the trigger of my heart and blood surging through my veins,” begins “The First Letter,” the opening chapter of Susan Barker’s wondrous third novel, The Incarnations.
“...I dream that we stagger on hunger-weakened limbs through the Gobi as the Mongols drive us forth with lashing whips,” it continues. “...I dream of sixteen palace ladies gathered in the Pavilion of Melancholy Clouds ...
Helen Phillips photographed by Andy Vernon-Jones
“Beautiful” and “bureaucrat” make strange bedfellows—and provide the earliest indication that Helen Phillips’ debut novel isn’t ordinary. Singular, suspenseful, and stunning, The Beautiful Bureaucrat amply defies facile classification.
“One of my earliest ways of describing the book to myself as I was writing it was a poetic thriller, or an existential thriller,” says Phillips, an assistant professor of creative writing at Brooklyn College. She is a recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the Italo Calvino Prize ...
Lauren Holmes photographed by Beowulf Sheehan.
Someone hot-pink spraypainted “SLUT” across the cover of Lauren Holmes’s debut short story collection. It fits. Summer’s boldest title deserves its most eye-catching cover.
“ ‘Barbara the Slut’ was always going to be the title of the collection,” Holmes says at Bread Alone Bakery in Rhinebeck, New York. “It was one of the first stories I wrote, and it really shaped the way that I thought about the collection. I was like, Oh, I need to write a bunch ...