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Interviews | January 6, 2014 2 comments
If everyone got to talk to Richard Powers for 45 minutes, humanity might go ahead and evolve to its next level. Unfailingly kind and generous,... Continue »
David EbershoffDescribe your latest project.
In one sentence: The 19th Wife is a novel about polygamy in the United States in the 19th century and today. In a few more sentences: The 19th Wife is about Ann Eliza Young, the so-called 19th wife of Brigham Young. In 1875 Ann Eliza divorced her husband, apostatized from the Mormon Church, and set out on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. At the same time, The 19th Wife is about Jordan Scott, a young man who grew up in a polygamous community in present-day Utah. Excommunicated when he was 14, Jordan must now return to his hometown to figure who killed his dad. The 19th Wife is a historical novel entwined with a modern-day murder mystery, and maybe it's even a little more than that.
David Mitchell, who has redefined the novel's potential in the 21st century. Start with his masterpiece, Cloud Atlas, but then go read everything else. (Full disclosure: I'm David's editor. And by the way, David will have a new novel out in late 2009 or early 2010.)
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Oh, Carrie, Carrie! Oh, blind strivings of the human heart! Onward onward, it saith, and where beauty leads, there it follows. Whether it be the tinkle of a lone sheep bell o'er some quiet landscape, or the glimmer of beauty in sylvan places, or the show of soul in some passing eye, the heart knows and makes answer, following. It is when the feet weary and hope seems vain that the heartaches and the longings arise. Know, then, that for you is neither surfeit nor content. In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.
How do you relax?
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
If you could have been someone else, who would that be and why?
Make a question of your own, then answer it.
Q: A two-parter: What are the best and worst things about a book tour?
A: The best part is meeting readers who care passionately about books. Everyone's life is so busy. If someone makes the effort to come to a reading, he or she is probably an especially devoted book lover. And I love meeting people like that. The worst part is the inevitable fear, in the hours leading up to the reading, that no one will show up. And so as I embark on the book tour for The 19th Wife I'm excited but also terrified.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Great Gay Books from before Gay Meant Gay:
Edward II by Christopher Marlowe
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Billy Budd by Herman Melville
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
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David Ebershoff is the author of two other novels, Pasadena and The Danish Girl, and a short story collection, The Rose City. His fiction has won a number of awards, including the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Lambda Literary Award, and has been translated into 10 languages to critical acclaim. Ebershoff has taught creative writing at New York University and Princeton and is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. For many years he was the publishing director of the Modern Library, and he is currently an editor-at-large for Random House. He lives in New York City.