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Echoes of the Past: Ann Leary on The Foundling and Maud Newton on Ancestor Trouble

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Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT June 9, 2022

The Center for Fiction*
& Online via Zoom

In-person* tickets include a $10 bookstore voucher, redeemable toward the featured event books on the night of the event. All registrants will receive a link to livestream the event.

The burgeoning fascination with genealogy, epigenetics, and the concept of inherited trauma over the past few years points to a desire to understand ourselves through our pasts, and create a narrative of our own lives. The rising popularity of paying to have your DNA tested to trace generations of migration may seem more primed to inspire science fiction but, increasingly, writers have been mining their family pasts to create deeply intimate personal narratives, using both fiction and nonfiction as a means to reckon with the troubling history of their lineages.

Ann Leary was inspired by a shocking discovery about her grandmother to write The Foundling, a novel about a woman who takes a secretarial job at a medical institution under the guise that its purpose is to help women in danger, only to unravel its secret intention to be a eugenics program for women deemed unfit to reproduce. Maud Newton’s Ancestor Trouble traces the evolution of our sociological, cultural, scientific, and religious relationships with our ancestors alongside her research into her own family’s history, uncovering murder, mental illness, racism, and religious fanatacism along the way. Join Leary and Newton in conversation regarding these two fascinating texts, using literature as a tool to contend with personal history, and the circularity of the past.


*Proof of vaccination is required to attend this event in person. Mask wearing is also required throughout the building. Accepted vaccination proofs include:

  • CDC vaccination card (or an image of it)
  • Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus (or a printout of it)
  • A record of vaccination from the healthcare provider who administered your vaccine

Anyone 5 and older is required to show proof of two vaccine doses or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Anyone 18 and older must also present a government issued photo ID.

If you remain unvaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, please contact us at health@centerforfiction.org for assistance or to request a reasonable accommodation.

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In Conversation

  • Ann Leary 2 (credit Scott M. Lacey) - Claire Fennell

    Ann Leary

    Ann Leary

    Ann Leary is the New York Times bestselling author of a memoir and four novels including The Good House. Her work has been translated into eighteen languages, and she has written for the New York Times, Ploughshares, NPR, Redbook, and Real Simple, among other publications. Her essay, “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive,” was adapted for Amazon’s television series, Modern Love. She lives with her husband in New York. Visit her online at AnnLeary.com.

    Photo Credit: Scott Lacey

  • Maud author photo_CREDIT IS Maximus Clarke - Claire Fennell

    Maud Newton

    Maud Newton

    Maud Newton has written for The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, and Oxford American. She grew up in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in English and law.

    Photo Credit: Maximus Clarke