Artist Talk: Jonathan Lethem
Join us for an evening with Jonathan Lethem as he celebrates the paperback edition of his latest novel Dissident Gardens. Jonathan will read a short excerpt from Dissident Gardens and then take questions from the audience. Portland’s own Sarah Braunstein will moderate the Q & A.
Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Chronic City, The Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn, and of the nonfiction collection The Ecstasy of Influence, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Lethem’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New York Times, among other publications.
About Dissident Gardens:
Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and political comrades with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her equally passionate and willful daughter, Miriam, flees Rose’s influence for the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village. Despite their differences, they share a power to enchant the men in their lives: Rose’s aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her feckless chess hustler cousin, Lenny; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriam’s (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinger husband, Tommy Gogan; and their bewildered son, Sergius. Through Lethem’s vivid storytelling we come to understand that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal.
Dissident Gardens was named A New York Times Notable Book and One of the Best Books of the Year by: Chicago Tribune, Village Voice, The Globe and Mail.
Sarah Braunstein is the author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children (W.W. Norton, 2011; paperback 2012; Italian translation from 66thand2nd, 2012). The novel was a finalist for the 2011 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, and was the winner of the 2012 Maine Literary Award. In 2010 she was named one of “5 Under 35” fiction writers by the National Book Foundation, and she received a 2007 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award.
Stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, AGNI, Ploughshares, The Sun, Nylon Magazine, Maine Magazine, The New Guard, Green Mountains Review, Post Road, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. A play, String Theory: Three Greek Myths Woven Together (co-written by Michael Barakiva and Amy Boyce Holtcamp) was produced in New York City in 2009 and at Vassar College in 2010.
**Photo of the author by John Lucas