Under the Sun: Chiara Barzini & Christopher Bollen with Frederic Tuten

Wednesday August 23, 2017
06:00 pm

Tags: Event




Things That Happened Before the Earthquake, the debut novel by award-winning screenwriter Chiara Barzini, is a unique immigrant bildungsroman casting 1990’s Los Angeles in a new light, full of cultural clashes, crises, and collisions. Barzini was joined by Christopher Bollen, whose latest novel The Destroyers also features characters transplanted to an unfamiliar place and faced with hidden challenges and dangers. Together with moderator Frederic Tuten (Self-Portraits: Fictions) they discussed the significance of place in fiction, notions of personal and cultural identity, the power of self-invention, and more.


*This event was presented in partnership with Rizzoli Bookstore and took place at their location at 1133 Broadway.*


About Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

Mere weeks after the 1992 riots that laid waste to Los Angeles, Eugenia, a typical Italian teenager, is rudely yanked from her privileged Roman milieu by her hippie-ish filmmaker parents and transplanted to the strange suburban world of the San Fernando Valley. With only the Virgin Mary to call on for guidance as her parents struggle to make it big, Hollywood fashion, she must navigate her huge new public high school, complete with Crips and Bloods and Persian gang members, and a car-based environment of 99-cent stores and obscure fast-food franchises and all-night raves. She forges friendships with Henry, who runs his mother's movie memorabilia store, and the bewitching Deva, who introduces her to the alternate cultural universe that is Topanga Canyon. And then the 1994 earthquake rocks the foundations not only of Eugenia's home but of the future she'd been imagining for herself.


About The Destroyers

Arriving on the Greek island of Patmos broke and humiliated, Ian Bledsoe is fleeing the emotional and financial fallout from his father’s death. His childhood friend Charlie—rich, exuberant, and basking in the success of his new venture on the island—could be his last hope. At first Patmos appears to be a dream—long sun-soaked days on Charlie’s yacht and the reappearance of a girlfriend from Ian’s past—and Charlie readily offers Ian the lifeline he so desperately needs. But, like Charlie himself, this beautiful island conceals a darkness beneath, and it isn’t long before the dream begins to fragment. When Charlie suddenly vanishes, Ian finds himself caught up in deception after deception. As he grapples with the turmoil left in his friend’s wake, he is reminded of an imaginary game called Destroyers they played as children—a game, he now realizes, they may have never stopped playing. An enthralling odyssey and a gripping, expansive drama, The Destroyers is a vivid and suspenseful story of identity, power and fate, fathers and sons, and self-invention and self-deception, from a writer at the very height of his powers.



Chiara Barzini is an Italian screen and fiction writer. She has lived and studied in the United States where she collaborated with Italian Vanity Fair, GQ, XL Repubblica, Rolling Stone Italy, Flair, and Marie Claire while publishing essays in American magazines such as the Village Voice, Harper’s, Vogue, Interview Magazine, Vice, and Rolling Stone. Her fiction has appeared in BOMB Magazine, The Coffin Factory, Noon, The NY Tyrant, Vice, and Dazed & Confused. She is the author of the story collection Sister Stop Breathing (Calamari Press, 2012) and has written a variety screenplays for both television and film. Her most recent film work, Arianna, the coming of age story of an intersex adolescent, won numerous awards at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Italian Golden Globes, 2016. Things That Happened Before the Earthquake is her debut novel.


Christopher Bollen is a writer who lives in New York City. He regularly writes about art, literature, and culture. His first novel, Lightning People (Soft Skull Press), was published in 2011. His second novel, Orient (Harper), was published in May 2015. His third novel The Destroyers (Harper) was published in June 2017. He is currently the Editor at Large at Interview Magazine.

Frederic Tuten is the author of The Adventures of Mao on the Long March, Tintin in the New World, The Green Hour, and Self Portraits: FIctions, among other fiction. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Writing. He lives in New York City.