As the distance between continents and cultures grows ever-smaller and the production of information grows faster and more frenetic, the basic methods by which we communicate have been forever changed. John Freeman, author of How to Read a Novelist joins André Aciman, author of Harvard Square and Adam Thirlwell, author of Kapow! to read from their most recent work and discuss the future of the novel in a global age.
About How to Read a Novelist:
An instructive and illuminating, definitive yet still idiosyncratic guide to a diverse and lively literary culture: a vision of the novel as a varied yet vital contemporary form, a portrait of the novelist as a unique and profound figure in our fragmenting global culture, and a book that will be essential reading for every aspiring writer and engaged reader—a perfect companion for anyone who’s ever curled up with a novel and wanted to know a bit more about the person who made it possible.
About Harvard Square:
It’s the fall of 1977, and amid the lovely, leafy streets of Cambridge a young Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, longs more than anything to become an assimilated American and a professor of literature. He spends his days in a pleasant blur of seventeenth-century fiction, but when he meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver in a Harvard Square café, everything changes.Nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol, the cab driver roars into the student’s life with his denunciations of the American obsession with "all things jumbo and ersatz"—Twinkies, monster television sets, all-you-can-eat buffets—and his outrageous declarations on love and the art of seduction. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj on the streets of Cambridge. Together they carouse the bars and cafés around Harvard Square, trade intimate accounts of their love affairs, argue about the American dream, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond. But as final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend.Harvard Square is a sexually charged and deeply American novel of identity and aspiration at odds. It is also an unforgettable, moving portrait of an unlikely friendship from one of the finest stylists of our time.
In the thick of the Arab Spring, an unnamed narrator, over-doped, over-caffeinated, over-weight, tries to make sense of this history in real time: with 24 hour broadcasts, YouTube films, lesbian bars in London’s East End and far too many newspaper clippings. A clever, funny and bitingly critical cultural commentary, using spinning digressions to tell the stories of a group of interconnected characters in London and Egypt, each transformed by the idea of revolution.
John Freeman is an award-winning writer and book critic. The former editor of Granta and onetime president of the National Book Critics Circle, he has written about books for more than two hundred publications worldwide, including The New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, La Repubblica, and La Vanguardia. His first book, The Tyranny of E-mail, was published in 2009. His poetry has been published in The New Yorker, ZYZZYVA, and The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.
André Aciman is the author of the novels Call Me by Your Name and Eight White Nights, the memoir Out of Egypt, and two books of essays. He is also the editor of The Proust Project. He teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he directs the Writers’ Institute. Aciman lives with his wife and family in New York City.
Adam Thirlwell was born in 1978, and grew up in North London. He was placed on Granta's 2003 list of Best Young British Writers under forty. He is assistant editor of the literary magazine Areté, and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Politics is his first novel.