KGB: Behind the Book - Maksik, Murphy, Jarrar & Malone

October 13, 2016
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Alexander Maksik is the author of three novels: You Deserve Nothing; A Marker to Measure Drift, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for both the William Saroyan Prize and Le Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger; and the just published Shelter in Place, a magnetic novel about the hereditary nature of mental illness, the fleeting intensity of youth, the obligations of family, and the dramatic consequences of love.  A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, his writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper’s, Tin House, Harvard Review, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Salon, and Narrative Magazine, among other publications.  He is the recipient of a 2015 Pushcart Prize, as well as fellowships from the Truman Capote Literary Trust and The Corporation of Yaddo.  He is the co-artistic director of the Can Cab Literary Residence in Catalonia, Spain, and his work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

“There’s something truly exhilarating about reading a novel that’s so audaciously original, so inventive and let’s be honest, so sort of weird that you want to put it in the hands of just about everyone you know.  And that’s a perfect description of Alexander Maksik’s stunningly unsettling third novel, Shelter in Place.”
– The San Francisco Chronicle

Tim Murphy’s lauded debut novel, Christodora, a powerful account of the AIDS crisis and its aftermath centering on the venerable Christodora, a 16-story apartment building in New York’s East Village, was an Indie Next Selection and an Amazon Top 10 Best Book of the Month.  Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.  Tim has reported on HIV/AIDS for twenty years, for such publications as POZ Magazine, where he was an editor and staff writer, Out, Advocate, and New York Magazine, where his cover story on the new HIV-prevention pill regimen PrEP was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Magazine Journalism.  He also covers LGBT issues, arts, pop culture, travel, and fashion for publications including The New York Times and Condé Nast Traveler.  He lives in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley.

“A powerful novel about the AIDS crisis and its legacy . . . Murphy offers a compelling portrait of the community of activists that transformed queer life in the 1980s and ’90s . . . His depictions of the day-to-day business of activists and bureaucrats have uncommon authority.  He vividly captures the diversity and tensions within the AIDS movement . . . No book has made me feel so intensely not just the ravages of AIDS but also the devastating cost of activism . . . Christodora recounts a crucial chapter in the history of queer life, which is to say in the history of American life.  It’s also, for all the despair it documents, a book about hope.”
– Garth Greenwell, Washington Post

Randa Jarrar’s debut novel, A Map of Home, was published in six languages and won a Hopwood Award, an Arab-American Book Award, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes & Noble Review.  Her hotly anticipated new book, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, is a collection of stories set in Texas, Egypt, Palestine, Michigan, and other locales that moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present, capturing the lives of Muslim women and men, many of them “accidental transients” – a term for migratory birds who have gone astray – seeking their circuitous routes back home.  She blogs for Salon, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Utne Reader,, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Oxford American, Ploughshares, Five Chapters, and other venues.  She has received fellowships and residencies from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Hedgebrook, Caravansarai, and Eastern Frontier.  In 2010, the Hay Festival and Beirut UNESCO named her one of the most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40.  She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to the U.S. after the first Gulf War.

“Jarrar follows up her novel, A Map of Home, with a collection of stories depicting the lives of Arab women, ranging from hypnotic fables to gritty realism . . . . Often witty and cutting, these stories transport readers and introduce them to a memorable group of women.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Randa Jarrar does what every brave story-teller should do—she makes sense of what other writers leave outside the bounds.  She connects us with that which others have left unsaid.”
– Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and Transatlantic

Margaret Malone is the author of the masterful debut story collection, People Like You, which was a Finalist for the 2016 PEN Hemingway Award and winner of the Balcones Fiction Prize.  In plainspoken American speech, with pathos and humor, the nine stories in People Like You feature dark, troubled women unafraid to puncture the pieties or to confront the void.  Her stories and essays can be found in The Missouri Review, Oregon Humanities, Swink, Propeller Quarterly, and elsewhere.  She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is a co-host of the artist and literary gathering SHARE.

“People Like You is a powerful debut by a writer of immense talent.  In stories that shimmer and burn with beauty and sorrow, generosity and wit, Margaret Malone reveals the deepest, darkest, and most illuminating truths about what it means to be human.  I love this book beyond measure.”
– Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

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Behind the Book is a small literacy nonprofit that gets kids excited about reading by connecting them with contemporary writers and illustrators.  Working with low-income students in the 1st-12th grades, we bring authors and their books into individual classrooms in curriculum-based programs that incorporate direct and sustained interaction between students and authors.  In workshop fashion, students do original writing; in elementary school, students create illustrated books.  All students receive copies of authors’ books to keep as their own.  Our goal is to build a new generation of readers and writers.  Since our founding, we have worked with nearly 13,000 students and donated more than 18,000 books to students and school libraries.