interviews

Photo credit: Alan Caras

Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 9:43am

In the end, though, I’m not sure presenting the facts is the most important work that fiction can do; in a lot of ways I think a novelist’s job is to give the reader the capacity to empathize with people whose experiences are vastly different from his/her own—and those feelings are a kind of experiential truth that you wouldn’t get from a newspaper article or history text. S. Tremaine Nelson interviews author Sara Nović.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 9:50am

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Stephen O’Connor is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, the author of four books, a professor of creative writing at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, and a husband and father. His short stories “Con” and “Double Life” appear in Issues 07 and 03 respectively of The Common. His new novel, Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, is forthcoming from Viking-Penguin. Melody Nixon talked with OConnor this month while she was in Norway and he in London. They both endured the rainiest of European springs and the crackling of Skype to talk dreams, the unconscious, and the right/ability of white writers to write across identity lines.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 6:00am

A.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee, Scotland. She is the author of 15 books: six novels, six short story collections, and three works of nonfiction. She is a fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Literature. She writes for publications in the UK and overseas and has a blog with The Guardian Online. In addition to author, she is a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV, and film, and a standup comedian. Her new book All The Rage—a collection of short stories—was published by Little A Books in spring 2014. Marni Berger and A.L. spoke about the culture of humor, constructing the landscapes of characters’ minds, and what it means to “write to please.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 8:57am

James Hannaham is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, an MFA teacher, and the author of the novel God Says No, which was a finalist for a Lambda Book Award and a semifinalist for a VCU First Novelist Award. Hannaham’s work interweaves social critique and strong characterization with robust plot, and he was recently praised by The New York Times for the way he makes the commonplace spring to life with nothing more than astute observation and precise language.” Melody Nixon met with Hannaham in downtown Manhattan the day before his latest novel, Delicious Foods, was released from Little, Brown and Company. They discussed place, politics, and racism as a curse.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 7:00am

Brian Sholis is Associate Curator of Photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum. He writes about photography, landscapes, and American history, all of which topics are combined in his essay “Our Poor Perishable World, appearing in Issue 08 of The Common. In this chat with Oregonian S. Tremaine Nelson, Sholis touches on the American West, beauty and destruction, and the similarities between fiction and photography.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - 3:47pm

Jonathan Moody is a poet and professor. His first full-length collection, The Doomy Poems, deals with time and place through persona poems, and is described by Terrance Hayes as having an “innovative funkiness that transcends the ruckus and heartache of our modern world.” Moody’s second poetry collection, Olympic Butter Gold, won the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize and will be published in summer this year. His poem “Dear 2Pac” appears in Issue 08 of The Common, and his “Portrait of Hermes as a B-Boy,” “Kleosphobia,” and “Paranoid,” have all been featured at The Common Online. Melody Nixon caught up with Moody this winter, and between New Zealand and Texas they talked poetry activism, politics, Houston skyscrapers, and the cosmopolitan radiance of Downtown Pittsburgh.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 12:40pm

Diane Cook’s debut short-story collection Man V. Nature was recently published by HarperCollins. The New York Times called it a book of “great beauty and strangeness.” Cook is a former producer on NPR’s “This American Life” and a graduate of the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University. She currently lives in Oakland, California where she is at work on a novel. S. Tremaine Nelson talked with Cook about writing “unnerving stories, her least favorite author, and the many perks of novel writing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 7:00am

Sarah Smarsh has reported on social justice, the environment, culture, and class for Harper’s, The Huffington Post, Guernica, The Pitch, Aeon, and others. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas, and has taught at Washburn University, Columbia, and elsewhere. A fellow of the Center for Kansas Studies, earlier in her career she wrote about her home state for everything from airline magazines to pop-history paperback series. Her essay “Death of the Farm Family” appears in Issue 08 of The Common. Marni Berger and Smarsh discussed the privilege of rootedness in America and what it means to be “often from” a place.

Friday, November 7, 2014 - 10:28am

Benjamin Anastas is the author of Too Good to be True, a memoir described by The New York Times as smart and honest and searching,” and so plaintive and raw it will leave most writers… with heart palpitations.” He has written two novels, An Underachievers Diary, and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastors Disappearance, as well as multiple reviews and essays, one of which, Boys with a Synth,” is published in Issue 06 of The Common. Melody Nixon talked with Anastas about his skepticism for social media, the role of the writer in society, and memoir as fictionwhiny and embarrassing stepchild.” 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 6:00am

Judith Frank is the author of the novel, Crybaby Butch, and a professor of English at Amherst College. She received a B.A. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in English literature and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Cornell. She has been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, and support from both Yaddo and MacDowell. Marni and Judith spoke online about Judy’s new novel, All I Love and Know, and what it means to write about violence in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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