KGB: Behind the Book

May 10, 2018
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Tadzio Koelb’s razor-sharp, acclaimed debut, Trenton Makes, explores the nature of identity as it follows a woman who carves out her share of the American Dream by living as a man following a domestic brawl that leaves her husband dead and her assuming his identity.  Tadzio has translated André Gide’s work, and is an active reviewer and essayist for a variety of publications that include The New York Times and The Times Literary Supplement.  A graduate of the prestigious writing program at the University of East Anglia in the U.K, he teaches writing at Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

“Here is a novel of bewitching ingenuity, one whose darkling, melodic mind conceives a world of ruin and awe, a sensibility cast in sepia or else in a pail of vying grays . . . Trenton Makes boasts the force of real freshness.  It asserts is authenticity in the plinths and joists of its architecture, in the bold intricacies of character and plot, but also in the only spot that truly matters: the prose, the synapses between subject and utterance, a language that hums along the taut cord of its telling.  A novel worthy . . . of that exclusive fluorescence call art.”
– William Giraldi, New York Times Book Review

Elise Juska’s gripping, provocative new novel, If We Had Known, explores the aftermath of a violent event through the potential role of a college professor, speaking to issues of gun violence, the rise of anxiety in young people, the use and abuse of social media, and the role of educators today, capturing human vulnerability and the impact of tragedy on survivors.  She is the author of four previous novels, including The Blessings, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and one of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Best Books of 2014.  Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review, The Hudson Review, Prairie Schooner, and many other publications.  She is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction from Ploughshares and her work has been cited by the Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies.  She lives outside Philadelphia and directs the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of the Arts, where she received the 2014 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

“In elegant, gripping prose, If We Had Known offers a startling and empathetic look at the humanity behind the all-too-frequent headlines. Juska has produced that rarest and best kind of literature-a page-turner with a message and a heart.”
– Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Half a Life

Ben Dolnick’s immersive, nuanced fourth novel, The Ghost Notebooks, is a love story wrapped in a ghost story that asks how much people know about their loved ones – here, a young couple, newly engaged, whom become caretakers of a historic museum.  He is the author of three other novels: At the Bottom of Everything, You Know Who You Are, and Zoology.  His work has appeared in GQ and The New York Times, and on NPR. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and with his wife and daughter.

“What urban couple wouldn’t want to trade the din of the Q train for the sound of crickets, exchange a cramped apartment for a spacious old building steeped in history, only a few hours’ drive from downtown Manhattan?  Think again.  Ben Dolnick’s elegant, eerie new novel suggests it might be better to stay in Queens . . . Dolnick excels at creating a subtle, growing sense of unease . . . The greater mystery unveiled in this powerful novel lies not in spooky atmospherics, but our own failure to connect with those closest to us.”
– Elizabeth Hand, The Washington Post