Writing has its own mythology. The word author stems from the Latin auctoreum, which literally means “one who causes to grow.” And whatever the reasons may be—our media representations, our educational system, or our star-struck awe at famous writers—we tend to emphasize the “one” in that equation. From Shakespeare in Love to questions for authors at events, our culture often celebrates the tortured soul, the rugged individual, the solo genius.
For the past three years, I’ve worked on Behind the Book: Eleven Authors on Their Path to Publication. The book traces the life history of 11 widely different contemporary debut books. Their books were self, indie, and big-house published. They were travel memoirs, paranormal romances, post-apocalyptic domestic dramas, children’s picture books, short story collections, young adult fantasies, and literary fiction. When I started the project, the only thing that unified these books in my mind was that they’d found some level of success, loosely defined somewhere between runaway bestseller and finding a strong connection to a niche audience. But in all my in-depth interviews, two other unifying factors emerged.
The first shared trait among the 11 authors was perseverance. I’ll leave that topic less explored here, but it’s enough to say they each encountered roadblocks and barriers significant enough to sabotage their entire project. Some quit for a time. But each writer returned to the work.
The second trait each writer shared revolved around the need to develop community. This theme overshadowed even perseverance. So much so, that I felt it deserved more exploration beyond what I cover in my book. I conducted interviews in Minneapolis and in Tampa at AWP 2018 to capture many writers’ thoughts and advice about literary community.
I’m grateful to the following authors for recently taking the time to speak with me: Joanna Demkiewicz (Milkweed Editions Publicist and co-founder of The Riveter), Rachel Fershleiser (Senior Director of Marketing at Knopf), Sally Franson (author of the forthcoming debut novel, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out), V.V. Ganeshananthan (author of Love Marriage), Ada Limón (author of 5 books of poetry including the National Book Award Finalist Bright Dead Things), Bao Phi (author of two poetry collections and the 2017 Caldecott Honor Book A Different Pond), Kaethe Schwehn (author of The Rending and the Nest), 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin (author of 3 poetry collections and editor of the bestselling A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota), and Analicia Sotelo (author of Virgin, the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize).
Why is Community Important?
In 2015, an Atlantic article questioned the purpose and pressures of literary community. It’s a compelling read, and as someone who shares a deep level of introversion, I found my head nodding several times. The author argues that the pressure for literary community is overwhelming, and that it forces “every writer who craves self respect and success to attend community events, help to organize them, buzz over them, and—despite blitzed nerves and staggering bowels—present and perform at them.”
I wholeheartedly agree that community should never feel forced or mandatory. But I disagree with that characterization of literary community. Based on my experience and my interviews with numerous authors, this definition needs to be broader.
To me, it’s not exclusively about going to book readings or networking at literary events, as the article suggests. It’s admirable and awesome if people want to write just for themselves, but if writers strive to be published, then they have already committed a public act. That act is a powerful choice, and yes, sometimes entirely based in ego, but it almost always requires some act of humility and community building as well. Literary community is then less a narrow set of predefined acts and more about finding a personal and meaningful way to connect through writing, however that comes about and feels comfortable.
신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin explains that the simple feeling of belonging can have powerful effects. She points out that in her community in Minnesota, it took a few community leaders to plant seeds and lead the way, and now the Twin Cities area has a vibrant and supportive community for writers of color. That community has helped her “keep at something that is not always easy to justify in terms of the amount of time and money invested.”
Sally Franson, whose debut novel comes out in April, says it wouldn’t exist without the people around her. This echoes many of the sentiments I heard in Behind the Book. “My novel, for example, didn’t get off the ground until an editor friend took me out for coffee and said, ‘you’re funny, you should write something funny’ and a beloved poet mentor, months later, said more of the same,” says Sally. “I honestly don’t think I would have started it without their nudging!”
Poet Ada Limón goes one step further and says that literary community is her lifeline. Twenty years after graduate school, she still emails the first drafts of poems to her close friends from the program. They are her touchstones and keep her grounded. She says it’s especially important in a climate and time when the arts don’t feel valued. Her sense of literary community “inspires me, protects me, and makes me feel like I can actually make a living and a life out of the arts.”
For Analicia Sotelo, writing can never be a solitary act because it’s something we do together. “Writing is not just about the individual artist, but that it is rather something that is generated from our communication, from our rhetoric, from our language and how that changes. Once we acknowledge that, I think we can be much more giving to each other.”
In many ways, an act of community is really an act of generosity. It can be notes from one trusted early reader to another, attending a reading, giving a reading, telling someone else to attend a reading, taking a loved one out for donuts after a tough rejection, posting an online book recommendation, offering to watch the kids for a few hours so your partner can write, writing a review for a writer you love, or speed-networking your way through a 10,000-person conference event. It can be big or small. It can be public or private. But if there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over, it really can’t be avoided, and we shouldn’t want to avoid it. It helps us, and it’s part of what you sign up for as a writer.
Most of the time, even for the most introverted, it doesn’t even need to be painful. “Everyone is the person who thinks that they don’t belong at one point or another. So it’s really important to remember that everyone feels that way. I mean I often felt that I was the mistake. Everyone feels at some point like they are the mistake,” explains V.V. Ganeshananthan. “But if you start to think of it like a whole room full of mistakes, it starts to sound pretty fun.”
How to Find Connection
So, that’s great, but how do you actually find, establish, and foster literary community and connection? In my interviews, there seemed to be four common pieces of advice: Be active, be present, be kind, and be giving.
1. Be Active
Start by being active, however you define that, says Bao Phi. Bao’s way of interacting and participating has changed as his life has changed, but he continues to try to stay as active as he can. When he was younger, he “went to as many literary readings, open mics, and slams as I could. Trying to absorb, listen, think, and learn.” Now as parenting, writing, and work have soaked up more of his time, he still tries to stay active, but in different ways. “I use social media a lot, and I might be the only person who’s still emailing folks like it’s 1998. I send poems or essays I like out to people who I think might enjoy them, have conversations electronically, and buy a lot of books.”
Joanna Demkiewicz says it takes some work to be active. “You’re going to have to do some research and hit the keys a little bit,” she argues. “The literary community is a friendly community despite this impenetrable mystique. And it’s definitely not all happening in New York. So the first step is just to show up and take part.”
2. Be Present
Demkiewicz says the easiest way to take part is to follow our second common piece of advice: be present and start local. Rachel Fershleiser agrees. She says, “No matter what, I think it’s about starting local. Find one or two people who you know and like, or even reach out to people via social media that you’ve never met before, and say you’re going to this reading and will they join you. A lot of times if you start with that one-on-one connection—and it just takes one—then that person might introduce you to someone they know.”
Furthermore, Fershleiser says don’t just start local, start small. When you’re starting out, “don’t just go to the big events with the big name authors and crowded rooms. Go to the smaller, more obscure events. Then people will introduce themselves more freely. They’ll be so happy that you took the time and effort to come, and you’ll be part of something.”
It also pays to be genuine, notes V.V. Ganeshananthan. “If someone is being Machiavellian about wanting to get something out of a conversation, people pick up on it pretty fast. So just be real, just be human. Ask other people what they are working on, try to connect with them rather than figure out how to get something from them. If you’re faking it to get someone to introduce you to their agent, that tends to be the kind of thing that people can tell. But if you’re interested in another person or their writing, that also comes through loud and clear.”
3. Be Kind
When I asked 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin for her advice, she listed kindness first. Try to include others, and reach out to them. This extends to “being a fierce advocate for free expression from underrepresented communities.”
Kaethe Schwehn agrees, noting that kindness goes a long way in the arts. In some ways, writing is a competitive enterprise, but it’s healthier when practiced with kindness. “Cheer loudly and sincerely when a writer friend accomplishes something,” says Kaethe. “Madeline L’Engle has a great quote about how each artistic act is a stream that feeds this greater ocean of art. Believing that we’re all on the same team is crucial.”
4. Be Giving
Perhaps most of all, the group of people I interviewed challenged anyone seeking community to start with generosity. Ada Limon says to start with service before anything else. “Reach out and write the poets that you love, the poets that are undercelebrated and underrepresented. Do interviews, ask questions, help promote books that you love. It can mean the world to those writers and build a connection for you.”
Sally Franson says that literary community is ultimately about generosity and help. “It’s folly, this myth of the tortured genius working in her room for years and coming out wild-eyed with a sheaf of papers that will change the world. No one can create alone. Great ideas are a confluence of five to 100 other great ideas. And so you’ve got to listen and pay attention to what the world is telling you. You’ve got to ask the world for help. And you’ve got to let the world help you, too.”
Image Credit: Flickr/hiimniko.
Where do I start? The year was full of chances to read new work from authors I already loved: I ingested Marilynne Robinson’s Lila in a tiny Parisian garret like I was binging on communion wafers, and I felt a crazy gratitude for the ragged, stunning insight of Charles D’Ambrosio’s new essay collection, Loitering. I gave several days of my life to total immersion in Michelle Huneven’s latest novel, Off Course — one of those books that casts a deliciously addictive spell over the days it occupies, then lingers long afterwards with its questions and insights and strokes of emotional acuity: it kept me racing back to my apartment just so I could curl up with it on the couch again. It’s the story of a woman caught in the thrall of a destructive love affair — the seduction of that compromised intimacy, its price — and the whole thing happens in Huneven’s deftly sketched vision of the High Sierras: a bear smearing his nose against glass windows, boots crunching over pine needles, the abjection of waiting for a phone call. The book made me feel — in the smartest, most graceful way — like it was a lantern held up to deeply interior recesses of my own soul.
For a seminar I’ve been teaching on the art of criticism, I re-read two of my favorite books by one of my favorite writers: Maggie Nelson’s Bluets and The Art of Cruelty, books I love for different reasons: The Art of Cruelty honors a kind of restless thinking that resists conclusions; Bluets honors, among other things, the kudzu quality of loss, how it creeps into everything else.
Another book on loss (was every book on loss?) that blew me away and kept me riveted, absolutely locked in its orbit for days, was Will Boast’s recent memoir, Epilogue, about grief and — in the best, subtlest, utterly un-cloying ways — the possibility of unexpected renewal. There’s a chapter about Boast’s attempt to write a short story about his brother — after his death, giving him life somewhere else — that will stay with me for a long time, a man crafting an alternative narrative to hold what he’s haunted by.
A trip to Sri Lanka on assignment sent me down a rabbit hole of research reading: Gordon Weiss’s The Cage, a chilling account of the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war — its bloody final siege — and V.V. Ganeshananthan’s Love Marriage, a poignantly realized novel about the ripples of that war through the Sri Lankan diaspora community. Back home, I returned to several books of documentary poetry — C.D. Wright’s One Big Self and Mark Nowak’s Coal Mountain Elementary — that witness certain unseen margins: coal mining communities, incarcerated life.
As fall got seriously cold, I started reading Dorothea Lasky’s new poetry collection, Rome, about lust and dissolution, and reckoning with what language can do for either one, and — brilliantly — Diet Mountain Dew. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you: “And what is not / Well I’ll never know / I will quench the thirst of my stomach / And eat the bitter doughnuts / Under the blank sky.” I read her poems on a crowded 4 train during rush hour and still felt completely immersed — which says something about her voice, how it creates what Olaf (the most infamous snowman of the year) might call a personal flurry.
But the book that meant the most to me this year was one I’d already read a few years back — or rather, listened to and been spellbound by, on a long drive across desolate Western states: Charles Bock’s Beautiful Children, a novel about Vegas and the deep longings people bring to its neon jungle. Its account of a marriage under duress is one of the most powerful visions I’ve ever read of what it means to keep showing up for someone you love, even when you feel absolutely disconnected or humbled by grief. But I am no doubt a biased observer, because — as fate would have it — near the beginning of the year I met Bock in a kitchen, and near the end of it, I married him.
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It was late January 2009, and I hadn’t read the news in days. It felt like a wound. In the basement of the Lighthouse Hotel in Galle, Sri Lanka, the business centre was dark. I sat back in my chair, staring at a white computer screen, which was nearly the only light in the room.
My inbox has always offered me an American volume and variety of information no matter where I open it. That night it was full of what was going on in other parts of Sri Lanka, a country in which my parents were born, and I was not. About five hundred kilometers north of where I was a guest at the Galle Literary Festival, the Sri Lankan Army was fighting the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
People were dying in this war—among them, unarmed civilians caught between the warring parties. I knew it; I had arrived knowing it. And they were mostly Tamils. I am Tamil. The hollow curve of nothingness inside me sharpened to a point: I missed home with something bordering on pain or hunger. Home was a place where people would have talked about this openly.
And what was this place? Wasn’t this festival also a place where we made space for important subjects? After some consideration—how empty was the room? how empty did I feel?—my eyes swam. I recalled, as though it had been years rather than minutes, the top floor of the hotel, where I had just left a group of readers and writers talking to one another. The night’s insistent, pulsing beauty. Their voices persisting, the conversation moving through the air by the sea.
Prior to this year’s Galle Literary Festival, which was held last month, I saw that Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky, and some other writers were calling for an authors’ boycott of the event through an appeal publicized and supported mainly by the French NGO, Reporters Without Borders.
“We believe this is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech by attending a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country,” their statement said. They cited the unsolved murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, a prominent newspaper editor, which had happened mere days before my 2009 arrival in Sri Lanka. They also emphasized the disappearance of a cartoonist, Prageeth Eknaligoda, whose work was critical of the government. They cited the deaths and disappearances of a number of other journalists as a justification for their call to writers to disengage with the literary festival.
It is true—and bears repeating—that threats to media freedom and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka have largely met with impunity. To say this horrifies me would be an understatement.
But it is not true that the Galle Literary Festival is “a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country.” Yes, in the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo. But the room itself—the room itself is very important. Talking about writing, art and ideas can be quite a serious business, one that is all the more necessary as freedom of speech is threatened, as writers censor themselves or disappear.
What is it that a literary festival does? Since my book came out in 2008, I have been to a number of them; we talk about books and art and life, and people seem, for the most part, happy.
I was unhappy that night in Galle when I read the news, but I did not begrudge my fellows the happiness of the festival, its victory of joy and art and conversation and ideas in this place that like any other place, deserved and deserves to talk and sing and laugh. Happiness is not an offense against the unhappy, and happiness, too, can be an act of resistance. Happiness is not necessarily a light or unconsidered thing.
To read, to write, to talk: these are small acts of valiance—though certainly not the only ones—in a country where some have died for words, for art. We create and consume art to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and others. So why would you defend freedom of speech by suggesting that people stop talking?
And yet putting people in a room together is not enough either. These people must choose to walk toward each other and have real conversations. This is hard anywhere, but especially in an environment where freedom has been threatened. “Only connect,” E.M. Forster wrote. Writers tend to think of this in terms of craft, but hold it up for a moment, and let the light shine through: it’s a political statement. If you have that room, what will you do with it?
Don’t show up for the literary festival and this will never happen to you:
I wander through a crowd at the festival, and a man pauses before me. He is older than me, and has glasses. An uncle, albeit the kind who is not related.
You’re the author of Love Marriage.
I’m Tamil, from Jaffna, he said. It’s good to see you here.
If you do not go, you will not meet the reader who has been waiting for this conversation with you. Who has questions for you. And you will never realize that you were waiting for him too, with your own questions, with the ever-unfurling scroll of the things you don’t know.
If a country stops people from speaking and no one is there to witness it, does it make no sound?
Meet my students in Galle, where I taught a workshop. The oldest student might have been in his fifties, and the youngest, a girl with skin as smooth as milk, was perhaps as young as ten. I had given them something to read—the short story “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien. They looked and looked and looked at the things people carry with them as they move through conflict. We talked about war and metaphor and burdens and gifts and choice and memory and love.
At the end of the class, the girl pressed her lips to my cheek. Thank you, she said shyly. She spoke English with a Sinhalese accent and was from the Colombo neighborhood of Cinnamon Gardens. Her older brother smiled at me.
If I met them on a street in Colombo I think I would know them, the almost indescribable sweetness of their faces, their good intentions, their unpretentious love of words, and their deep-hearted openness to the places words could bring them, although they were children, and what the story had shown them was both horrible and beautiful.
“What they carried,” they read, “varied by mission.”
I carried the book I had written, which is about a Sri Lankan family that lives inside and outside of Sri Lanka, and its daughter, who must learn her forebears’ political pasts and decide her own future.
I carried the character of Kumaran, a Tamil Tiger, who belongs to this family, who is dying, and who regrets parts of his life even as he remembers wrongs that have befallen him. I carried his siblings, his daughter, his friends, his enemies, and the lives I had imagined for them. The thousand empathies I had tried to invent. I carried what people had said about the book being wrong, or untrue, or tilting too far or unfairly one way or another. I carried letters from people who believed in it, who told me they loved it. I carried my fear. But I went. And people asked me about the story I had written.
“We ask that by your actions you send a clear message that, unless and until the disappearance of Prageeth is investigated and there is a real improvement in the climate for free expression in Sri Lanka, you cannot celebrate writing and the arts in Galle,” says the Reporters Without Borders statement.
Let me tell you about one of the first books I loved. It is called Funny Boy, and its author, Shyam Selvadurai, curated this year’s Galle Literary Festival. Funny Boy is about a young gay Tamil boy coming of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Sri Lanka; it ends with a brutal depiction of the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, a staggering spate of violence in which the government was complicit and in which thousands died.
In one chapter of the book, a journalist goes missing. I won’t tell you what happens to him. You should read it for yourself. You should celebrate this book, which I respect and admire, and think you would too.
Dear Reporters Without Borders: You can’t possibly be saying that talking about art isn’t a political act! But say whatever you want to say. I promise to show up, and to defend your freedom of speech by being one of those who wants to speak to you.
“We ask you in the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, to stand with your brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who are not allowed to speak out,” Reporters Without Borders says.
To those who would have writers from abroad stop going to Sri Lanka: I refuse to disappear. If my brother vanishes, is it an act of solidarity for me to leave the place where he was lost? When I have the ability to be there?
The great traditions of solidarity are built on conversation, long and careful study and thought, and yes, informed travel of the mind and body—not the petition of a moment. This is a long engagement, and must emphasize serious exchange—something that has no chance of happening if the door is closed.
Invite me to Galle again. I’ll go. Let my eyes swim. Let the talk waft around me; it may not be perfect or entire, but it will be ours, and I want to listen to it go as far as it can, to be one of the people who walks toward other people rather than away. I will meet you, my friend, by the ocean; this is solidarity because you will tell me about your place, and I will tell you about mine.
Image used with permission of Galle Literary Festival Sri Lanka
V.V. Ganeshananthan’s first novel, Love Marriage, was published in April by Random House. She lives in New York.Edan Lepucki recommended it last year; I’m going to recommend it this year. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao astonishes me more every time I think about it, every time I discuss it with a friend or a student, every time I flip to a favorite passage again. What delightful nerdery to see how many of the references I get! Beyond that, I enjoy the incredible feat of craftsmanship and passion. The novel does a number of remarkable things. At the moment, I’m appreciating how its structure allows it to deal with ideas of community and belonging. The story, juggled between protagonist Oscar and narrator Yunior, simultaneously acknowledges and undermines stereotypes – as Yunior generalizes (sometimes carelessly, but often affectionately) about his own Dominican communities, he also tells the tale of their singular, beloved misfit: Oscar, who has to constantly insist on his own Dominican identity. I love this epic and I’ll read it again next year, I’m sure.A Perfect Man, by Naeem Murr. When I picked this gorgeous book up, I was stunned by the depth of its world. Murr’s canny, sharp, sympathetic portrayal of children and adolescents kept me riveted.I’m finishing off the year reading A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam. I’m not done with it yet, but I suspect it won’t take me long – the take on the Bangladesh War is great, and telling the story from the widow Rehana’s point of view gives the story a different freshness and sympathy.More from A Year in Reading 2008
The distractions of a good book have been in high demand this year. A quiet corner and a transporting story offered a reprieve from relentless campaign news not to mention cheap entertainment for the many feeling a sudden impulse for thriftiness. 2008 was a loud year, and this final month seems likely to be only more deafening. The annual shopping frenzy has already ramped up, this year with overtones of desperation and the macabre.Yet in the spirit of the season (though in defiance of the prevailing mood), we offer a month of gifts – collected with the help of many generous friends – to our readers. There will be plenty of lists in the coming days assigning 2008’s best books (and movies and music and everything else you can think of), but it is our opinion that these lists are woefully incompatible with the habits of most readers. As it does with many things in our culture, what we call “the tyranny of the new” holds particularly strong sway over these lists. With books, however, it is different. We are as likely to be moved by a book written 200 years ago as we are by one written two months ago, and a list of the “Best Books of 2008” feels fairly meaningless when you walk down the aisles of your favorite bookstore or library.Being a reader is about having millions of choices, and a lucky reader has trusted fellow readers as her guides. With this in mind, we’ve asked a number of our favorite readers (and writers and thinkers) to be your guides for the month of December, with each contributor sharing with us the best book(s) they read in 2008, regardless of publication date. And so we present to you our 2008 Year in Reading, a non-denominational advent calendar of reading recommendations to take you through to the end of 2008.We’re doing it a little differently this year. The names 2008 Year in Reading contributors will be unveiled one at a time throughout the month as we post their contributions. You can bookmark this post to follow the series from here, you can just load up the main page for more new Year in Reading posts appearing at the top every day, or you can subscribe to our RSS feed and follow along in your favorite feed reader.Stephen Dodson author of Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit, proprietor of LanguagehatNam Le author of The BoatBenjamin Kunkel founding editor of N+1 and author of IndecisionRosecrans Baldwin founding editor of The Morning News and author of You Lost Me ThereHamilton Leithauser lead singer of The WalkmenMark Binelli author of Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!Dan Kois founding editor of VultureAmanda Petrusich author of It Still MovesJoseph O’Neill author of NetherlandRex Sorgatz of Fimoculous.com.Elizabeth McCracken author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My ImaginationJoan Silber author of Ideas of Heaven and The Size of the WorldAnder Monson author of Other ElectricitiesDon Lee author of Wrack and RuinTraver Kauffman of Black GarterbeltBuzz Poole author of Madonna of the ToastEdan Lepucki of The MillionsJim Shepard author of Like You’d Understand, AnywayPeter Straub author of seventeen novelsRachel Fershleiser co-editor of Not Quite What I Was PlanningCharles Bock author of Beautiful ChildrenEdward Champion of The Bat Segundo Show and edrants.comHelen Dewitt author of The Last SamuraiManil Suri author of The Age of ShivaCharles D’Ambrosio author of The Dead Fish MuseumChristopher Sorrentino author of TranceWells Tower author of Everything Ravaged, Everything BurnedLawrence Hill author of Someone Knows My NameJohn Wray author of LowboyEd Park founding editor of The Believer and author of Personal DaysSarah Manguso author of The Two Kinds of DecayKrin Gabbard author of Hotter Than ThatJosh Henkin author of MatrimonyJosh Bazell author of Beat the ReaperBrian Evenson by The Open CurtainCarolyn Kellogg of Jacket Copy and www.carolynkellogg.comHesh Kestin author of Based on a True StoryScott Esposito editor of The Quarterly Conversation and proprietor of Conversational ReadingGarth Risk Hallberg author of A Field Guide to the North American Family: An Illustrated Novella, contributor to The MillionsSana Krasikov author of One More YearSeth Lerer author of Children’s Literature: A Reader’s HistoryLorraine López author of The Gifted Gabaldon SistersAnne Landsman author of The Rowing Lesson and The Devil’s ChimneyMark Sarvas author of Harry, Revised and proprietor of The Elegant VariationBrad Gooch author of City PoetKyle Minor author of In the Devil’s TerritoryChristine Schutt author of Florida and All SoulsTodd Zuniga founding editor of Opium MagazineDavid Heatley author of My Brain is Hanging Upside DownV.V. Ganeshananthan author of Love MarriageFrances de Pontes Peebles author of The SeamstressLaura Miller cofounder of Salon.com author of The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in NarniaDustin Long author of IcelanderMaria Semple author of This One is MineRob Gifford of NPR, author of China RoadJohn Dufresne author of Requiem, MassMatthew Rohrer author of Rise UpMickey Hess author of Big Wheel at the Cracker FactoryGregory Rodriguez author of Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and VagabondsDavid Ebershoff author of The 19th WifeTim W. Brown author of Walking ManPablo De Santis author of The Paris EnigmaHugo Hamilton author of DisguiseJoshua Furst author of The Sabotage CafeKevin Hartnett of The MillionsRoland Kelts author of JapanamericaNikil Saval assistant editor at n+1The Year in Reading RecapBonus Links: A Year in Reading 2007, 2006, 2005