The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Big Read supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide reading programs which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Find out more here.
The Big Read: Gabriel Roth & Kristopher Jansma
Monday October 28, 2013
As part of the Center's Big Read for Luis Alberto Urrea's novel Into the Beautiful North, we're presenting a series of events that take inspiration from the book. Gabriel Roth, author of The Unknowns, joined The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards author, Kristopher Jansma, to talk about the history of the coming of age novel.
About The Unknowns
Eric Muller has been trying to hack the girlfriend problem for half his life. As a teenage geek, he discovered his gift for programming computers-but his attempts to understand women only confirm that he's better at writing code than connecting with human beings. Brilliant, neurotic, and lonely, Eric spends high school in the solitary glow of a screen. By his early twenties, Eric's talent has made him a Silicon Valley millionaire. He can coax girls into bed with ironic remarks and carefully timed intimacies, but hiding behind wit and empathy gets lonely, and he fears that love will always be out of reach. So when Eric falls for the beautiful, fiercely opinionated Maya Marcom, and she miraculously falls for him too, he's in new territory. But the more he learns about his perfect girlfriend's unresolved past, the further Eric's obsessive mind spirals into confusion and doubt. Can he reconcile his need for order and logic with the mystery and chaos of love?
Gabriel Roth was born and raised in London and educated at Brown University and at San Francisco State University, from which he received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. For several years he was employed as a reporter and editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He now works as a writer and software developer and lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York. The Unknowns is his first novel.
About The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
From as early as he can remember, the hopelessly unreliable—yet hopelessly earnest—narrator of this ambitious debut novel has wanted to become a writer. From the jazz clubs of Manhattan to the villages of Sri Lanka, Kristopher Jansma’s irresistible narrator will be inspired and haunted by the success of his greatest friend and rival in writing, the eccentric and brilliantly talented Julian McGann, and endlessly enamored with Julian’s enchanting friend, Evelyn, the green-eyed girl who got away. After the trio has a disastrous falling out, desperate to tell the truth in his writing and to figure out who he really is, Jansma’s narrator finds himself caught in a never-ending web of lies. As much a story about a young man and his friends trying to make their way in the world as a profoundly affecting exploration of the nature of truth and storytelling, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopard will appeal to readers of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists and Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize–winning A Visit from the Goon Squad with its elegantly constructed exploration of the stories we tell to find out who we really are.
Kristopher Jansma grew up in Lincroft, New Jersey. He received his B.A. in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia University. His critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, was published by Viking/Penguin in March of 2013. He writes a column for Electric Literature’s blog, “The Outlet” about Literary Artifacts, and loving books in a digital age. His work has also been published in The Believer, Slice Magazine, the Blue Mesa Review, and on The Millions. Currently, he lives in Brooklyn, where he is a Creative Writing Lecturer at SUNY Purchase College.