I’m modifying this a bit and thinking instead of Authors I’d Want to Meet. I’ve only ever met one author – last night, I attended a release-day talk by Don DeLillo about his new book, Zero K (post coming tomorrow! Many, many thanks to Cover2CoverMom for inspiring me to go!!!) I haven’t thought much (at all) about this question before because it never occurred to me I could meet authors in person (? right?).
Anyway, the point is: baby-steps. Before I advance to Authors I’d Want to Meet at BEA or Bookcon, I need to first figure out what authors I’d like to meet, period.
Mr. Splitfoot is hands-down my favorite fiction book of 2016 so far. A haunting, soulful story about people’s lives ‘on the margins’ of rural US (orphans, con-men, judgment-day preachers). The writing is stunningly melodic and poetic, the scene brought to life is vivid, if bleak, and the characters are complex and sympathetic. AND: Samantha Hunt will be in my vicinity for a book festival at the end of the month! So, this one is not just hypothetical: I cannot wait to meet Samantha Hunt (or, more like, see her speak)!!!
Alexievich was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature last year (2015) for her “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Born in Ukraine (then, USSR), Alexievich writes stunning oral histories that are unlike any others I have read (consisting solely of others’ voices). Alexievich’s genius lies not in direct interpretation, but in composition: in how she collects, arranges, and gives voice to those otherwise forgotten. Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster is my top book for 2015, and I’m now reading Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets (English translation in 2016, courtesy of Netgalley).
I was once in a room with hundreds of other adoring Morrison fans (at Univ. of MD, CP, my alma mater, back in my late teens). My remaining impression is one of overwhelming wisdom and thoughtfulness. I’m not sure I’ve yet heard a person talk whose verbal eloquence matches their written form, but Morrison is an exception. She is also the only black woman to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature – in 1993.
I’ve been touched by everything Morrison has written but my favorite is The Bluest Eye. And I would absolutely love to partake of her wisdom in person again, especially now that I’m a bit older.
Ana Castillo is that woman for me: the one who mesmerizes me with her fiery passion, who intimidates me more than anyone but who I most secretly wish I was like. Castillo is gloriously unapologetic and intense- about feminist causes, racism, xenophobia, justice more broadly. And – her poetry is balm for the soul. So excited for a recent addition to my shelf, So Far from God (Many thanks to Bina @If You Can Read This for this recommendation!)
‘Discovering’ Neil Gaiman’s work last year was finding a piece of myself that had not yet been articulated into such whimsical, poignant, metaphorically dense fantasies. I love many authors and too many books to count, but Neil Gaiman is special for me because he speaks to exactly who I see myself as (a child at heart?) This is not to say I could ever write like Gaiman, or even that my personality is like his (work’s) in any way, just that his style resonates with my experience and with the unspoken part of my soul more deeply than anything else I’ve ever read.