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Elliott Holt and Michael Cunningham

Thursday May 30, 2013
07:00 pm

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Elliott Holt and Michael Cunningham - Part 2

Elliott Holt and Michael Cunningham - Part 3

 

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Elliott Holt and Michael Cunningham came together to discuss Holt's debut novel, You Are One of Them.

 

About You Are One of Them
Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones are best friends in an upscale part of Washington, D.C., in the politically charged 1980s.  Sarah is the shy, wary product of an unhappy home: her father abandoned the family to return to his native England; her agoraphobic mother is obsessed with fears of nuclear war.  Jenny is an all-American girl who has seemingly perfect parents.  With Cold War rhetoric reaching a fever pitch in 1982, the ten-year-old girls write letters to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov asking for peace.  But only Jenny's letter receives a response, and Sarah is left behind when her friend accepts the Kremlin's invitation to visit the USSR and becomes an international media sensation.  The girls' icy relationship still hasn't thawed when Jenny and her parents die tragically in a plane crash in 1985.

Ten years later, Sarah is about to graduate from college when she receives a mysterious letter from Moscow suggesting that Jenny's death might have been a hoax.  She sets off to the former Soviet Union in search of the truth, but the more she delves into her personal Cold War history, the harder it is to separate facts from propaganda.

You Are One of Them is a taut, moving debut about the ways in which we define ourselves against others and the secrets we keep from those who are closest to us.  In her insightful forensic of a mourned friendship, Holt illuminates the long lasting sting of abandonment and the measures we take to bring back those we have lost.
Elliott Holt's short fiction has appeared in Guernica, the Kenyon Review, Bellevue Literary Review, and The Pushcart Prize XXXV (2011 anthology). She is a graduate of the MFA program at Brooklyn College, where she won the Himan Brown Award, and was the runner-up for the 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award. A former copywriter who has worked at advertising agencies in Moscow, London, and New York, Holt now lives in her hometown, Washington, D.C. You Are One of Them is her first novel.

Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), and Specimen Days. His latest novel is By Nightfall. He lives in New York.