The Center for Fiction and Harper's Magazine Present the Art of the Short Story: Jai Chakrabarti, Hernan Diaz, and Gunnhild Øyehaug with Joanna Biggs
Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST February 22, 2023
The Center for Fiction
The Ticket/Voucher option includes 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.
Acclaimed authors Jai Chakrabarti (A Play for the End of the World), Gunnhild Øyehaug (Knots), and Hernan Diaz (Trust) join our stage for a discussion of the ever-versatile and wildly divergent short story form and its craft. Their featured new works include Evil Flowers—Norwegian author Øyehaug’s playfully surreal, madcap collection about love, death, and metamorphosis—and A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness—Chakrabarti’s masterful collection exploring what it means to cultivate a family today, across borders, religions, and race. Joanna Biggs—senior editor at our presenting partner, Harper’s Magazine, and author of A Life of One’s Own—will moderate this insightful conversation. The Consulate General of Norway is sponsoring a reception before the event begins.
Presented in partnership with Harper’s Magazine.
Jai Chakrabarti is the author of the novel A Play for the End of the World (Knopf), which won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction, was the Association of Jewish Libraries Honor Book, and was long-listed for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He is also the author of the forthcoming story collection A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness (Knopf, 2023). His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and has been anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Short Stories, and awarded a Pushcart Prize and also performed on Selected Shorts by Symphony Space. His nonfiction has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Writer’s Digest, Berfrois, and LitHub. He was an Emerging Writer Fellow with A Public Space and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and is a trained computer scientist. Born in Kolkata, India, he now lives in New York with his family.
Photo Credit: Peter Dressel
Hernan Diaz is the author of two novels translated into thirty-four languages. His first novel, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and it was the winner of the Saroyan International Prize, the Cabell Award, the Prix Page America, and the New American Voices Award, among other distinctions. It was also a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of the Year and one of Lit Hub’s 20 Best Novels of the Decade. Trust, his second novel, was the winner of the Kirkus Prize and longlisted for the Booker Prize. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Time magazine, and it was also one of the New Yorker’s 12 Essential Reads of the Year. Trust is currently being developed as a limited series for HBO. His stories and essays have appeared in the Paris Review, Harper’s, the Atlantic, Granta, the Yale Review, Playboy, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Ingmar Bergman Estate. He holds a PhD from NYU, edits an academic journal at Columbia University, and is also the author of Borges, between History and Eternity.
Photo Credit: Pascal Perich
Gunnhild Øyehaug is an award-winning Norwegian poet, essayist, and fiction writer. Her story collection Knots was published by FSG in 2017, followed in 2018 by Wait, Blink, which was adapted into the acclaimed film Women in Oversized Men’s Shirts, and in 2022 by Present Tense Machine. Øyehaug lives in Bergen, where she teaches creative writing.
Photo Credit: Helge Skodvin
Joanna Biggs is a senior editor at Harper’s Magazine. She is the author of A Life of One’s Own: Nine Women Writers Begin Again, which will be published by Ecco in May.
Photo Credit: Sarah Bohn
A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness
By Jai Chakrabarti
Published by Knopf Doubleday
In the fourteen masterful stories that make up this collection, Jai Chakrabarti crosses continents and cultures to explore what it means to cultivate a family today, across borders, religions, and race.
In the title story, a closeted gay man in 1980s Kolkata seeks to have a child with his lover’s wife. An Indian widow, engaged to a Jewish man, struggles to balance her cultural identity with the rituals and traditions of her newfound family. An American musician travels to see his guru for the final time—and makes a promise he cannot keep. A young woman from an Indian village arrives in Brooklyn to care for the toddler of a biracial couple. And a mystical agent is sent by a mother to solve her son’s domestic problems.
Throughout, the characters’ most vulnerable desires shape life-altering decisions as they seek to balance their needs against those of the people they hold closest. The stories in A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness capture men and women struggling with transformation and familial bonds; they traverse the intersections of countries and cultures to illuminate what it means to love in uncertain times; and they showcase the skill of a storyteller who dazzles with the breadth of his vision.
By Gunnhild Øyehaug
Published by FSG
In Evil Flowers, a precise but madcap collection of short stories, Gunnhild Øyehaug extracts the bizarre from the mundane and reveals the strange, startling brilliance of everyday life.
Across twenty-five stories, Øyehaug renovates the form again and again, confirming Lydia Davis’s observation that her every story is “a formal surprise, smart and droll.” The stories converse with, contradict, and expand on one another; birds, hagfish, and wild beasts reappear, gnawing at the fringes. A section of a woman’s brain slips into the toilet bowl, removing her ability to remember or recognize types of birds (particularly problematic because she is an ornithologist). Medicinal leeches ingest information from fiberoptic cables, and a new museum sinks into the ground.
Inspired by Charles Baudelaire, a dreamer and romantic in the era of realism, Øyehaug revolts against the ordinary, reaching instead for the wonder to be found in fantasy and absurdity. Brimming with wit, ingenuity, and irrepressible joy, these stories mark another triumph from a dazzling international writer..
About Harper's Magazine
Harper’s Magazine is America’s longest-running general interest publication, consistently bringing bold and original ideas to our audience since the first issue in June 1850. This is the magazine that broke the scandals of the My Lai massacre and Guantanamo suicides coverup, where Moby Dick was first serialized and “Nickel and Dimed” first lived, the only American magazine to excerpt The Satanic Verses, and among the first to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Harper’s devotes over a third of every issue in some way to books—reviews, excerpts, and analysis—alongside investigative reporting, opinion, photo essays, short fiction, art, poetry, and the inimitable Harper’s Index.
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