KGB: Behind the Book

April 12, 2018
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Hermione Hoby’s razor sharp, luminous debut novel, Neon In Daylight, named to several most anticipated book lists for 2018, follow a young British woman who ditches both her boyfriend and her Ph.D. program back in England for a temporary reprieve cat-sitting in New York City and finds herself enmeshed in the lives of a charismatic aging writer and his aggressively free-spirited daughter.  Hermione is a freelance journalist who writes about culture and gender for publications including The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Times Literary Supplement.  She also writes the “Stranger of the Week” column for The Awl.  grew up in south London and has lived in New York since 2010.

“A radiant first novel . . . . [Neon in Daylight] has antecedents in the great novels of the 1970s: Renata Adler’s Speedboat, Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays . . . . Precision—of observation, of language—is Hoby’s gift.  Her sentences are sleek and tailored.  Language molds snugly to thought.”
– Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

Rachel Lyon’s
electrifying, brilliantly imagined debut novel, Self-Portrait with Boy, set in early 90’s Brooklyn on the brink of gentrification, explores the conflict facing an ambitious young female artist who accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death—an image that could jumpstart her career, but would also devastate her most intimate friendship.  Rachel’s short stories have appeared in Joyland, Iowa Review, and Saint Ann’s Review, among other publications.  She currently teaches fiction at Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, Slice, and elsewhere, and is a co-founder and co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit. 

“The conflict is rich and thorny, raising questions about art and morality, love and betrayal, sacrifice and opportunism and the chance moments that can define a life. The novel wrestles with the nature of art but moves with the speed of a page-turner.”
– Los Angeles Times

YZ Chin’s
mesmerizing debut short story collection, Though I Get Home, featured as one of Buzzfeed’s 21 books to read this spring, will transport the reader to Malaysia with atmospheric writing and rich descriptions of the country and its culture.  Winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, the collection is set against the backdrop of globalization and shares characters as well as timely political themes threaded throughout (free speech and censorship, social justice, art as protest).  Central to the book is Isabella Sin, a small-town girl—and frustrated writer—transformed into a prisoner of conscience in Malaysia’s most notorious detention camp.  YZ was born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia.  She lives in New York, working as a software engineer by day and a writer by night.

“A mosaic of stories about state- and self-imposed silence and what it means to find your voice.  The 14 stories in Chin’s debut collection are centered around Malaysia: the people, culture, and country.  Interconnected (sometimes loosely, sometimes overtly) by characters, the stories also share themes like patriotism, censorship, personhood, and art as protest . . . . A haunting, surprising, and rebellious collection that contains multitudes.”
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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