Behind the Book: Patricia Engel, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Porochista Khakpour, & Brando Skyhorse

June 12, 2014
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Blast into summer with BtB and enjoy an evening of sizzling new writing by:

Patricia Engel’s second book, It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, has been praised by the New York Times Book Review as “Wise and accomplished . . . Beautifully written and executed . . . There are at least two ways to judge a novel: by how fast you turn the pages or by how many times you have to stop to underline a passage.  My copy of It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris is all marked up.  Engel . . . has uncanny insight into the human condition . . . [her] considerable gifts are on display here.” Her debut, Vida, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2010; a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award, New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and Paterson Fiction Award; winner of the Florida Book Award, International Latino Book Award, and Independent Publisher Book Award; and long-listed for The Story Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize.  Additionally, Vida was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Barnes & Noble, Latina Magazine, and Los Angeles Weekly.  Her short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Guernica, and Harvard Review, among many other publications and anthologies.  She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Key West Literary Seminar, Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony, Hedgebrook, Ucross, and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.  Most recently, she is the recipient of a 2014 fellowship in prose from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Born to Colombian parents and raised in New Jersey, she currently lives in Miami.

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s third novel, Bittersweet, is a coming-of-age mystery set over a summer in Vermont that the New York Times praised for its “fairy tale aspect – of the Grimm, not the Disney variety – [that] pervades the novel, which artfully builds an increasing sense of menace…Like a Downton-in-Vermont, Bittersweet takes swift, implausible plot turns, and its family secrets flow like a bottomless magnum of champagne, but Beverly-Whittemore succeeds in shining a light into the dark, brutal flaws of the human heart.” Her previous novels include The Effects of Light and Set Me Free, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best book of fiction by an American woman published in 2007.  A recipient of the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, she lives and writes in Brooklyn and Vermont.

Porochista Khakpour’s second novel, The Illusions, was listed as one of Flavorwire’s fifteen “Most Anticipated Books of 2014”; The Millions’s “Most Anticipated” in its “Great 2014 Fall Preview”; and the Huffington Post‘s “30 Books You NEED Read in 2014.” Claire Messud calls it “Utterly original and compelling . . .weav[ing] Iranian myth with very contemporary American neurosis to create a bittersweet poetry all its own.  This ambitious, exciting literary adventure is at once grotesque, amusing, deeply sad—and wonderful, too.” Her debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, one of The Chicago Tribune’s Fall’s Best, and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the first fiction category.  Her honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Ucross, and Yaddo.  Her nonfiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Spin, Slate, and Salon, among many others.  She currently teaches at Columbia University’s MFA program, Fordham University, and Wesleyan University.  She lives in New York City.

Brando Skyhorse’s just-released second book, Take This Man: A Memoir, is receiving wide acclaim.  In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews called it as“[a] wickedly compelling account of a dysfunctional childhood.  By turns funny and wrenching, the narrative is an unforgettable tour de force of memory, love and imagination.  His debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  It was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.  He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross and Can Serrat, Spain and is currently the 2014 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University.