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On America

On America: Tim O’Brien on America Fantastica with Rick MacArthur

October 25, 2023

To celebrate the launch of his first novel in twenty years, American literary icon and best-selling author of The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien, joined us at The Center for Fiction, in partnership with Harper’s Magazine, to discuss America Fantastica as a part of our On America conversation series. America Fantastica is a propulsive caper of a book, beginning with a harebrained bank robbery followed by a madcap cross-country chase, abundant with O’Brien’s razor-sharp commentary on the state of American politics and culture. Rick MacArthur, award-winning journalist and president of Harper’s Magazine, joined O’Brien in a conversation about capturing the American reality in fiction, the rapid dissemination of disinformation, and the future of an increasingly divided America.

Presented in partnership with Harper’s Magazine.

In conversation

  • Tim O'Brien author photo - credit Tad O'Brien - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    Tim O’Brien

    Tim O’Brien

    Tim O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction for Going After Cacciato. The Things They Carried was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; it received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and France’s Prix de Meilleur Livre Etranger. In 2005, The Things They Carried appeared on the New York Times poll of “The Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years” and was earlier included among its Books of the Century; in 2021, it was named one of The Center Fiction’s 200 Books That Shaped 200 Years of Literature. In the Lake of the Woods, published in 1994, was chosen by Time magazine as the best novel of that year. The book also received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times. In 2010, O’Brien received the Katherine Anne Porter Award, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a distinguished body of work. He has also received the Mark Twain Award in Literature and lifetime achievement awards from the Dayton Peace Prize Foundation and the Pritzker Military Library. O’Brien has been elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Photo Credit: Tad O'Brien

  • John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s Magazine

    John R. MacArthur

    John R. MacArthur

    John Rick MacArthur is president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine and an award-winning journalist and author. Under his leadership, Harper’s has received twenty-two National Magazine Awards, the industry’s highest recognition. He edited and wrote the introduction (and conducted the last interview) for Graham Greene: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, published by Melville House in 2019. His essays appear regularly in the Spectator (U.K.) and he writes a column (in French) for Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper. In 2017 he was named a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters, an honor bestowed by the French government. His books include Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War and The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, & the Subversion of American Democracy. Mr. MacArthur grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, and graduated in 1978 from Columbia University with a B.A. in history. He lives with his wife and two daughters in New York City.

    Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz