Episode 54 – A Tribute to Robert Stone

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Robert Stone wrote eight novels, as well as numerous short stories and a memoir.  In his writing, Stone vividly captured the chaos and elation of the 1960s and the darkness at the heart of American empire-building.  His novel Dog Soldiers won the National Book Award in 1975.  He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer and the PEN/Faulkner award, and served as the chairman of the PEN/Faulkner Board for over 30 years.

On May 2, 2016, we gathered at the Folger Shakespeare Library to celebrate the life and work of this remarkable man.  Authors Madison Smartt Bell, Stephen Goodwin, Lauren Groff, and Tim O’Brien joined us on stage for an evening of reminiscences and readings from his work and that of writers he influenced.

“Numerous sentences from the novels of Robert Stone are permanently lodged in my mind.  I didn’t sit down to memorize them – they’ve stayed with me because Stone… had the power of being memorable.”
– George Packer, The New Yorker

Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 53 – Louise Erdrich

The PEN/Faulkner Podcast is back!

Louise Erdrich Credit Paul Emmel

Louise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels, a volume of short stories, several books of poetry, and a series of children’s books. Her novel The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award; she is a former Guggenheim Fellow and has received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. 

In 2015, Erdrich received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a lifetime achievement award, presented at the National Book Festival. On May 10th, 2016, Erdrich joined PEN/Faulkner at an event co-hosted by the Library of Congress to read from her novel, LaRose.

“Book by book, over the past three decades, Louise Erdrich has built one of the most moving and engrossing collections of novels in American literature.”
– Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 52 – Edna O’Brien

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Edna O’Brien at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

Moderated by PEN/Faulkner Board Director Emeritus Stephen Goodwin

Edna O’Brien has been hailed as the doyenne of Irish literature. From the beginning of her career, O’Brien broke literary ground, writing openly about female sexuality in her first novel, The Country Girls. The book was lauded by critics and banned by the Irish Censorship Board. The idea that women had sex lives was, at that time, an obscene notion.

In the half century that’s followed, O’Brien has become one of the most celebrated writers in the English language.  She’s received the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, and honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. O’Brien joined Stephen Goodwin at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue to discuss her latest novel The Little Red Chairs  her “masterpiece,” says Philip Roth – and to share her singular genius with us.

 

Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 51 – Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

I Feel Your Pain: An Evening with Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison

Moderated by PEN/Faulkner Board President Richard McCann

Mitchell S. Jackson’s novel The Residue Years, the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, is based on his own coming-of-age, in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood harrowed by the crack cocaine epidemic. Leslie Jamison’s widely-lauded essay collection The Empathy Exams starts with her own memories of working as a model patient for medical students and goes on to explore how we perceive other people’s pain. Both writers investigate the extremes of experience – their own and others’ – in dazzling fiction and essays.

 

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 50 – Celeste Ng & John Wray

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Not Waving but Drowning: An Evening with Celeste Ng and John Wray

Moderated by Katy Waldman

 

A “perfect” daughter goes missing in an Ohio town in the 1970s; a schizophrenic teenaged boy escapes from a mental hospital to the New York subway. Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You) and John Wray (Lowboy) joined us on February 23rd at the Folger Shakespeare Library to explore family secrets and expectations, adolescent yearning and the fascination with danger.

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 49 – Deborah Eisenberg

Deborah Eisenberg
In Episode 49 of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast, we present the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction to Deborah Eisenberg. Eisenberg reads here from the short story “Your Duck is My Duck,” published in Fence Magazine.
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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 48 – Replacement Lives

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Replacement Lives: An Evening with David Bezmozgis, Boris Fishman, and Lara Vapnyar, Moderated by Olga Grushin

This evening was co-hosted by the Washington, DC JCC.

David Bezmozgis, Boris Fishman, and Lara Vapnyar were all born in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and moved to North America as part of a wave of Jewish emigration. All three write about leaving behind a country that will soon disappear and a history that is continually being re-written. They joined us for a discussion of East and West, language and identity, the old Russia and the new.

David Bezmozgis is the author of the story collection Natasha and Other Stories and the novels The Free World and The Betrayers.  His work has won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and has been nominated for several awards, including the Governor General’s Award. He lives in Toronto.


Boris Fishman was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He is the author of the novel A Replacement Life and editor of Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier. His journalism and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.


Lara Vapnyar is the author of two story collections, There Are Jews in My House and Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, and the novels Memoirs of a Muse and The Scent of Pine. Her work has appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker and Harper’s. She lives in Manhattan.

 


 

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 47 – SPARK: The 27th Annual PEN/Faulkner Celebration

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Back row, from left: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Elliot Ackerman, Molly Antopol, Justin Taylor, T. Geronimo Johnson, and Marlon James. Front row, from left: Kseniya Melnik, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Susan Coll, Julie Otsuka, Jocelyn Reyes, and Celia Caldwell. Photo credit: James Brantley. 

Episode 47 brings you the 27th anniversary of the PEN/Faulkner Celebration, which was held on October 5th, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. The Gala celebrates and supports the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools program. Twelve authors joined Master of Ceremonies Calvin Trillin at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre to explore the theme of Spark through original compositions written for the occasion. The event included our high school essay contest awards winners Celia Caldwell and Jocelyn Reyes, who read their prize-winning essays from the Folger stage alongside our other guest writers.

The episode features readings by Elliot Ackerman, Molly Antopol, Celia CaldwellSusan Coll, Marlon James, T. Geronimo Johnson, Kseniya Melnik, Dolen Perkins-ValdezKirstin Valdez Quade, Jocelyn Reyes, and Justin Taylor. Novelist Julie Otsuka read as well, but could not be featured on this podcast. Author and humorist Calvin Trillin served as the Master of Ceremonies.

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 46 – 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation holds it's annual awards program at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC on Saturday, May 2, 2015.   (James R. Brantley)

Episode 46 features the 35th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony & Reading, which was held at the Folger Shakespeare Library here in Washington, DC on May 2nd, 2015.

The winner of this year’s award was Atticus Lish for his novel Preparation for the Next Life, and the four finalists for the prize were:

Jeffery Renard Allen for his novel Song of the Shank 

Jennifer Clement for her novel Prayers for the Stolen 

Emily St. John Mandel for her novel Station Eleven 

Jenny Offill for her novel Dept. of Speculation

All five of the authors joined us at the Folger for the ceremony and reading, and they were joined onstage by this year’s judges, Alexander Chee, Marc Fitten, and Deirdre McNamer, who you’ll hear read their citations for each finalist and the winner.

The event opened with remarks by Frazier O’Leary, president of PEN/Faulkner’s Board of Directors, and Emma Snyder, our Executive Director. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was B.J. Novak.

 

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.

Episode 45 – Where We Are From: Place and Personhood in Fiction with Allan Gurganus and Elizabeth Strout

Strout_GurganusThe next installment of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast features Allan Gurganus and Elizabeth Strout in conversation with Linda Holmes at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Allan Gurganus is the author of the novels Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and Plays Well With Others and three collections of short fiction: The Practical HeartLocal Souls, and White People, which was a finalist for the 1992 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The recipient of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Gurganus is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in a village of 6,000 residents in North Carolina.

Elizabeth Strout is the author of the bestselling novels Olive Kitteridge, Abide with Me, and The Burgess Boys, among other works. She has received the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. She lives in New York City.

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Thank you to Benedict Kupstas and Field Guides for donating the music used in this episode. Listen here to Field Guides’ album Boo, Forever.