Adam Johnson photographed by Samson Yee.
For most writers, the year following the publication of an acclaimed novel, a year that brings home the Pulitzer Prize, would be filled with joy. Not so for Adam Johnson. The 2012 publication of Johnson’s gripping novel The Orphan Master’s Son won him the award in 2013. In that same span of time, doctors diagnosed his wife, Stephanie Harrell, with breast cancer.
Harrell, a fellow writer, would not talk about her illness; Johnson is drawn to subjects that are “half-seen ...
Robert Goolrick photographed by Leigh Ledare
Robert Goolrick took a break from packing boxes for this interview, in the process of moving from White Stone, Virginia—population 352—to the even smaller Weems, Virginia.
It’s a lifetime and a world away from Manhattan, where for 35 years Goolrick lived a life of excess and hedonism—his own description.
“The fun we had, as evil as it was, lives on in our memory,” Goolrick says. “Even though we now know that the life we have is the more sane ...
Jessamyn Hope photographed by Yoav Bergner.
Jessamyn Hope’s debut novel Safekeeping is a sweeping and historical tale of the men and women who work and live on a kibbutz, an Israeli commune based around socialist ideals.The novel is based on a cast of characters running away from past sins and working toward new lives, featuring a young drug addict looking for his grandfather’s true love from decades prior and the matriarch of the kibbutz whose traditional values are being upended as a result of her ...
Mia Couto photographed by Pedro Soares.
In rural Mozambique, it’s not uncommon for humans to be eaten by lions—a fact that Mia Couto was reminded of in 2008.
During that year, the Portuguese-descended, native Mozambican writer—who is also a biologist—was working on a natural gas excavation project when lions killed 26 people over 5 months. After the first attack, Couto went to his tent and began putting his fear down on paper. Those first sentences would grow into his novel Confession of the Lioness, a haunting ...
David Gates photographed by Mary McCormick
David Gates is many things. He’s a former journalist for Newsweek. A musician playing in three bands. A teacher in the University of Montana’s MFA program. He’s a writer, of course, and lately he’s been a writer wondering if he’s past his prime.
This is a trend for characters in his new book—his first in 16 years—A Hand Reached Down To Guide Me, a moving and nuanced collection of stories and one novella filled with aging artists, parents ...
Authors of WAR OF THE ENCYLCOPAEDISTS
Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite
If you didn’t know better, you’d assume that Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite were brothers by the way they talk together.
Even speaking from two different locations for a conference call interview, they find a natural rhythm together, they finish each other’s thoughts, and they are quick to laugh. It’s the sort of chemistry that shows itself in the pages of their first novel, War of the Encyclopaedists, which they wrote together over the span of five years. ...
Author of ECSTATIC CAHOOTS and PAPER LANTERN
Stuart Dybek photographed by Jon Randolph.
Anyone familiar with Stuart Dybek knows that he often writes about love, or to put it more bluntly, sex.
That’s certainly true in Dybek’s two new collections (his first books since 2003’s critically acclaimed I Sailed With Magellan). Ecstatic Cahoots is a collection of 50 short shorts, many of which are experimental, a notch closer to poetry in form if not on the sentence level. His longer, more developed stories are found in Paper Lantern: Love Stories, which is clearly ...
Cynthia Bond photographed by Jay Harris.
Some of the first stories Cynthia Bond ever heard were born from scars. As a child, she studied the scars scattered across the body of her mother, who gained most of them from growing up on a farm near Liberty, a small African-American town in East Texas.
“We’d point to a scar and we’d say, ‘Tell us that story,’ ” Bond says. “Each scar was like a chapter. That town was woven into my entire youth.”
She learned ...