Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Courtney Angela Brkic

Courtney Angela Brkic is the author of the new novel The First Rule of Swimming, Stillness: and Other Stories and The Stone Fields. Her work has also appeared in Zoetrope, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Harpers & Queen, the Utne Reader, TriQuarterly Review, The Alaska Review and National Geographic, among others. Brkic has been the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Whiting Writer’s Award. Stillness was named a Barnes and Noble Discover pick, a 2003 Chicago Tribune "Best Book" and a 2003 New York Times "Notable Book". The Stone Fields was shortlisted for a Freedom of Expression Award by the Index on Censorship. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband and son, and teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University.

Last month I asked Brkic about what she was reading. Her reply:
One of my quirks as a writer is that I find it very hard to read while I’m working intensively on a project. I tend to work – and to read – in bursts and I’ve just recently started picking up books by other writers again.

I just finished Together Tea by Marjan Kamali, which I found lovely. It’s the story of a mother and daughter who have fled Iran after the Revolution and settled in the United States. Darya, the mother, is a talented mathematician who puts her skills to use by making up spreadsheets which, she hopes, will help her daughter (Mina) find a husband. This doesn’t make Mina very happy at all. Kamali does a wonderful job depicting family bonds, particularly in a family that has been uprooted and must find its way in a new country. Marjan and I were students together at NYU and I immediately connected with her writing. And I am so glad that other readers have the opportunity to experience her storytelling, as well.

Currently, I’m reading Cooked by Michael Pollan. I fell in love with The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Pollan is so much more than a food writer, and what he has to say about this most basic – and most complex – human behavior is extremely moving.

Up next are Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard and Last Friends by Janet Gardam (the final book in the Old Filth trilogy). Pritchard’s memoir details his decision to run his family farm in Virginia – a farm whose wonderful produce my family buys at our local farmer’s market! And Gardam is one of my favorite writers.

I’m hoping to work on my next project this summer. But, for now, I’m enjoying life on the other (reading) side.
Visit Courtney Angela Brkic's website and learn more about The First Rule of Swimming.

--Marshal Zeringue