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In Conversation: Lidia Yuknavitch and Porochista Khakpour

Wednesday July 22, 2015
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

Video

Part 2

 

Photo Credit: Andrew Kovalev (Yuknavitch)

Acclaimed authors Lidia Yuknavitch and Porochista Khakpour came together in conversation to talk about Yuknavitch's new novel, The Small Backs of Children.

 

About The Small Backs of Children

A masterful literary talent explores the treacherous, often violent borders between war and sex, love and art.

 

With the flash of a camera, one girl’s life is shattered, and a host of others altered forever. . .

 

In a war-torn village in Eastern Europe, an American photographer captures a heart-stopping image: a young girl flying toward the lens, fleeing a fiery explosion that has engulfed her home and family. The image wins acclaim and prizes, becoming an icon for millions—and a subject of obsession for one writer, the photographer’s best friend, who has suffered a devastating tragedy of her own.

 

As the writer plunges into a suicidal depression, her filmmaker husband enlists several friends, including a fearless bisexual poet and an ingenuous performance artist, to save her by rescuing the unknown girl and bringing her to the United States. And yet, as their plot unfolds, everything we know about the story comes into question: What does the writer really want? Who is controlling the action? And what will happen when these two worlds—east and west, real and virtual—collide?

 

A fierce, provocative, and deeply affecting novel of both ideas and action that blends the tight construction of Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending with the emotional power of Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children is a major step forward from one of our most avidly watched writers.

 

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water and the novel Dora: A Headcase. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Iowa Review, Mother Jones, Ms., The Sun, The Rumpus, PANK, Zyzzyva, Fiction International, and other literary publications. She teaches writing and literature in Portland, Oregon.

 

Porochista Khakpour's debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was named a New York Times Editor's Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune's Fall's Best and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the First Fiction category. Her honours include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Ucross, and Yaddo. Her non-fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in Harper's, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Spin, Slate and Salon, among many others. Khakpour currently teaches at Columbia University's MFA programme, Ford University and Wesleyan University. She lives in New York City.