Sunday, December 25, 2016

Anne Korkeakivi

Anne Korkeakivi is the author of the novels An Unexpected Guest (2012) and Shining Sea (2016), both from Little, Brown.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Korkeakivi's reply:
My reading of late has been much influenced by recent circumstance, both personal and public. Most of the time I live as an expat, under the shadow of a mountain in Switzerland, far from any literary establishment. I read constantly, but not strictly the most current books or ones published in North America.

This autumn, though I’ve been on book tour in the U.S. I’ve spent a lot of time in North American bookstores and around other authors. It’s difficult for me to walk away from either without a new book in hand. At the Miami Book Fair, for example, I came away with three books, including poet Ishion Hutchinson’s House of Lords and Commons. Spanning millennia, thoughts, images, and seas, this collection has made me want to dust off my Ancient Greek texts from college and re-read T.S. Eliot.

I got to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett swiftly, for the practical reason that both have variously been compared to my own new novel. In Homegoing, Gyasi employs a particularly brave writerly technique, as each chapter introduces a new voice, not to be revisited, while the story traces two diverging branches of a Ghanian family over three centuries. The Southern Californian family in Commonwealth also splinters, in this case over a half-century and because of adultery. Generational tales—there’s something in the water.

In the days immediately after the election, however, I needed some classic American fiction. First, I revisited On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros about a young Latina coming of age in Chicago. Next, I re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, about an independent woman of color in the Deep South with three husbands and three lives. The Cisneros is so profoundly its own hybrid of story, vignette, and poetry that it will always be fresh; the Hurston is enduring.

I return to Switzerland soon and have been trying to keep out of bookstores now, so I can manage to get my suitcase on the airplane. Three books are already packed: Nine Facts That Can Change Your Life: Stories by Ronna Wineberg; News of the World by Paulette Jiles; and Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa.

Bookstores in the U.S. are so tempting, though. Even in the airport.
Visit Anne Korkeakivi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue