• September 12, 2012

    Victor LaValle

    Victor LaValle and Mat Johnson spent years typing away at opposite of a mouse-infested tenement in Harlem, dreaming of becoming novelists. Eventually, they did, and they also maintained their friendship over the years, talking regularly about writing, life, and what would come next. Victor LaValle’s fourth novel, The Devil in Silver, a literary horror novel set in a NYC sanitarium, was published by Spiegel & Grau in September.

    MJ: Alright, Big Nuts. How does this book suck less than all the others?

    VL: Well, it's certainly longer. In my experience, the longer the book, the less chance there's

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  • September 05, 2012

    Bookforum talks with Zadie Smith

    Zadie Smith was just twenty-four years old when she published White Teeth (2000), her best-selling, widely-acclaimed debut novel. Now thirty-six, she has written four novels and a collection of essays, was a columnist for Harper’s Magazine, is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker and The Guardian, and is a professor of creative writing. Oh yeah: and she’s a mother. I spoke to Smith on the phone early one recent morning about NW, her tragicomic new book about a northwest London neighborhood and its people; its corners and projects, friends and lovers, mothers

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  • Chris Hayes, photograph by Sarah Shatz
    August 28, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Chris Hayes

    Christopher Hayes is the Nation's editor-at-large and the host of the MSNBC's weekend morning show, "Up With Chris Hayes!" In his new book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (which Jim Sleeper reviews in our Fall issue) Hayes outlines the mechanics of meritocracy and the corruption and fraud it breeds. This, he argues, is at the core of the institutional failures of the last decade.

    Bookforum: Twilight of the Elites starts off with this incredible litany of recent institutional failures, from Wall Street to Congress. The inequality embedded in these systems seems to really

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  • August 20, 2012

    Bookforum talks with Martin Amis

    In his new novel Lionel Asbo Martin Amis returns to London’s mean streets, where a petty criminal, Lionel Pepperdine (renamed Asbo in honor of the UK’s notorious Anti-Social Behavior Order), wins a £140 million on the lottery. Lionel is a great comic-villain in the tradition of London Fields’ Keith Talent and The Information’s Steve “Scozzy” Cousins. Skyrocketed into society’s highest socio-economic echelons, Lionel struggles to reconcile front-page stardom with his modest, inner-city roots (he is from a fictional part of London where everything hates everything else: “the caff hates the van!

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  • July 11, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Kate Zambreno

    Kate Zambreno is the author of the novels O Fallen Angel and Green Girl and of the forthcoming memoir-slash literary investigation of the overlooked women of Modernism, Heroines. She also finds time to write the excellent blog, Frances Farmer Is My Sister. Green Girl revolves around Ruth, a young American girl who’s working as a temp at a London department store (which she always refers to as Horrid’s). Ruth is kind of aimless; we don’t know a lot about the substance of her life. We know that her mother is dead and she isn’t in regular contact with her father. She doesn’t have any real friends

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  • Heidi Julavits
    June 13, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Heidi Julavits

    In The Vanishers, Heidi Julavits uses the framework of a paranormal mystery novel to examine the psychological intersections between illness, grief and the unbridgeable distances between mothers and daughters. Her protagonist, Julia Severn, is a gifted young psychic studying at the Institute of Integrated Parapsychology under the tutelage of her mentor, and soon to be adversary, Madame Ackermann. When Severn comes down with a mysterious and debilitating illness, later discovered to be the result of a psychic attack, she is forced to leave the Institute. Soon thereafter, she is swept up in an

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  • May 30, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Donald Antrim

    Donald Antrim is the author of three novels and a memoir, The Afterlife. Recently, Picardor started reprinting the novels with new introductions by Antrim admirers Jonathan Franzen (who calls The Hundred Brothers “possibly the strangest novel ever published by an American) and George Saunders (who introduces The Verificationist, about a man who has an out-of-body experience while meeting with fellow psychoanalysts in a pancake house). In June, Antrim’s Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World will be reissued with an introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides.

    There’s an unmistakable difference between

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  • Tom Bissell
    May 18, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Tom Bissell

    We’re fortunate to live in a time where a handful of enormously gifted writers are revitalizing the essay form. One example is Tom Bissell, whose new collection, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, adds up to a kind of narrative of contemporary culture, weighing in on video games, underground literary movements, bad movies and the fates of great writers. Before his recent reading with his friend and fellow writer Gideon Lewis-Kraus at KGB Bar in New York, I spent an hour with Tom Bissell at his cousin’s apartment in Manhattan, where he and his girlfriend were staying while they were

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  • April 23, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Ellen Ullman

    Ellen Ullman’s latest novel, By Blood, is narrated by a psychologically unstable academic who, while on a forced leave of absence in San Francisco, discovers that he can hear a young woman’s therapy sessions through the walls of his office. He gradually becomes obsessed with the patient, going so far as to surreptitiously help her uncover disturbing truths about her family history. All of this unfolds against the backdrop of 1970s San Francisco, a world that Ullman depicts through her narrator’s troubled mind as an urban nightmare. In addition to By Blood, Ullman is the author of Close to the

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  • April 16, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Laurent Dubois

    What most people know about Haiti can be reduced to two statements: Haiti is the world's first independent black nation—the country declared its independence from France on January 1, 1804—and Haiti is presently the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Unfortunately, the country's political victories are often overshadowed by media images of malnourished children and bedraggled homes. In his most recent book, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, historian and Duke University professor Laurent Dubois considers this lapse in historical memory.

    Aftershocks of History unpacks Haiti’s legacy

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  • April 10, 2012

    Bookforum talks to the White Review

    The first thing that catches your eye about the London-based White Review’s third issue is the color gradient on the cover, which shades from a mesmerizing forest green to light burnt orange. After this, it's what's inside: The magazine features an impressive variety of work—from poetry and fiction translated from Japanese, Spanish, and Yiddish to reports on the extinction of whales in the Antarctic and stories of Perec and the Situationists in Belleville. In addition to producing a quarterly print publication, the White Review publishes monthly online issues and programs events in London and

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  • David Graeber
    March 19, 2012

    Bookforum talks with David Graeber

    David Graeber is an anthropologist, anarchist, the author of Debt: the First 5,000 Years, a professor at Goldsmith's, University of London, and one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street, which is the subject of his forthcoming book. Bookforum spoke with the writer in Los Angeles about the future of anthropology, ecstatic moments in activism, and the problem of political imagination.

    Bookforum: You're an anthropologist who has written a book that combines history, economics, and philosophy. What drew you to anthropology as a discipline?

    David Graeber: I got involved in anthropology largely

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