Thursday, 7:00 pm EST February 9, 2023
The Center for Fiction
The Ticket/Voucher option includes a $10 Bookstore voucher, redeemable toward the featured event book on the night of the event. All registrants will receive a link to livestream the event.
The Center for Fiction welcomes Martin Riker (co-founder and publisher of Dorothy, a Publishing Project) for a conversation about his poignant and startlingly original new novel. The Guest Lecture is “a transporting, clever, and inspired work of fiction” (Publishers Weekly) with “a voice as clear, sincere, and wry as any… in current American fiction” (Joshua Cohen). The novel follows a newly jobless academic, lying awake at night and rehearsing a speech on John Maynard Keynes within the rooms of her own consciousness, bringing along a comforting albeit imaginary companion to keep her on track—Keynes himself. Novelist Hilary Leichter (Temporary, shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize) joins Riker for a discussion on his innovative and deliciously fun novel of ideas.
Martin Riker is the co-founder and publisher of the feminist press Dorothy, a Publishing Project, and the author of Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return. He teaches in the English department at Washington University in St. Louis, and his criticism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among other publications.
Photo Credit: Jessica Baran
Hilary Leichter is the author of the novel Temporary, which was a finalist for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Prize, and was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Temporary was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and named a best book of 2020 by NPR, Elle, Vulture, and Publishers Weekly.
Hilary’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, the New York Times, Conjunctions, and Selected Shorts, and her fiction has received a distinguished citation from Best American Short Stories. Her work in Harper’s magazine won the 2021 National Magazine Award in Fiction.
She has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and was the summer 2022 Picador Guest Professor for Literature at Leipzig University.
Hilary teaches at Columbia University where she is the undergraduate creative writing Fiction Adviser. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her next two novels are forthcoming from Ecco.
Photo Credit: Sylvie Rosokoff
The Guest Lecture
By Martin Riker
Published by Grove Press / Black Cat
In a hotel room in the middle of the night, Abby, a young feminist economist, lies awake next to her sleeping husband and daughter. Anxious that she is grossly underprepared for a talk she is presenting tomorrow on optimism and John Maynard Keynes, she has resolved to practice by using an ancient rhetorical method of assigning parts of her speech to different rooms in her house and has brought along a comforting albeit imaginary companion to keep her on track—Keynes himself.
Yet as she wanders with increasing alarm through the rooms of her own consciousness, Abby finds herself straying from her prepared remarks on economic history, utopia, and Keynes’s pragmatic optimism. A lapsed optimist herself, she has been struggling under the burden of supporting a family in an increasingly hostile America after being denied tenure at the university where she teaches. Confronting her own future at a time of global darkness, Abby undertakes a quest through her memories to ideas hidden in the corners of her mind—a piecemeal intellectual history from Cicero to Lewis Carroll to Queen Latifah—as she asks what a better world would look like if we told our stories with more honest and more hopeful imaginations.
With warm intellect, playful curiosity, and an infectious voice, Martin Riker acutely animates the novel of ideas with a beating heart and turns one woman’s midnight crisis into the performance of a lifetime.
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